Organizational Change Theories

Organizational Change Theories
A Synthesis

© 2008 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"As Demers notes, organizational change is becoming a major field of research inquiry, encompassing an increasing diversity of theories. The three parts of the book place this topic in historical context, and reflect three key debates within the field: adaptation versus selection; transformation versus evolution; and natural evolution versus social dynamics."


While there are thousands of books on change management that adopt a normative perspective and numerous conceptual works that present one author's perspective, this unique book offers a synthesis of major organizational change theories. Author Christiane Demers gives a unique guided tour of the field of organizational change providing readers with a historically framed, comprehensive synthesis of organizational change theories. Organizational Change Theories: A Synthesis exposes readers to the variety and richness of North American and European scholarly literature.

Key Features:

  • Presents a historical framework: This historical perspective provides a comprehensive synthesis that situates different theoretical approaches and highlights their links over time.
  • Covers literature from World War II to present day: A comparative summary of each period's important theories identifies the major dimensions, key concepts, and questions that characterize the different perspectives.
  • Offers a balanced evaluation of each theoretical approach: By comparing each perspective in terms of major contributions and limits, students can develop their critical thinking skills.
  •  Provides a wide-range review of current literature: While the focus is historical, the book includes recent theoretical perspectives to offer an up-to-date review of emerging research and trends shaping the evolution of the field.
  • Includes extensive references: A fantastic bibliographic resource for scholars and students to further investigate issues of change in organizations.

Intended Audience

This text is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses such as Organizational Development, Organizational Theory, and Organizational Change in the departments of business & management, political science, and public administration. It is also an ideal resource for academics, researchers, and scholars interested in organizational change.

The Field of organizational Change: An Historical Account  
Focus of the book  
Organization of the book  
Part I Adaptation or Selection?
Do Organizations Really Change?  
Chapter 1 - Adaptation and Growth Perspective
Rational Adaptation Approaches  
Organic Adaptation Approach  
Life Cycle Approach  
Chapter 2 - Selection and Imitation Perspective
Population Ecology  
The "New" Institutionalism  
A Look for the Outside  
Part II - Transformation or Evolution?
Is Transformation Always Revolutionary?  
Chapter 3 - the Configuration Approach
Momentum and Revolution: The Punctuated Equilibrium Model  
Design Archetypes: From Punctuated Equilibrium to Theories of Stability and Change  
Chapter 4 - The Cognitive Approach
Organizational Change as Reframing  
Reframing as a Change of Knowledge Stucture  
Reframing as a Social Interaction Process  
Chapter 5 - The Cultural Approach
Culture and Change: Functionalist and Interpretive Perspectives  
Cultural Change Processes  
Differentiation Studies  
Fragmentation Studies  
Chapter 6 - The Political Approach
Power and Change: From Resistance to Renewal  
A Look From Above  
Part III - Natural Evolution or Social Dynamics?
How do Organizations Renew Themselves?  
Chapter 7 - The Natural Evolution Perspective
The Behavioural Learning Approach  
The Evolutionary Approach  
The Complexity Approach  
Chapter 8 - The Social Dynamics Perspective
The Radical and Postmodern Approaches  
Discourse About Change  
Discourse Changing Over Time  
Change as Practical and Social Performance  
Looking to Change From the Inside  
Looking for an Elusive Object  
Culmination or Dissolution?  

"Demers gives a unique guided tour of the field of organisational change providing readers with a historically framed, comprehensive synthesis of organisational change thoeries."

Times of India
Times of India
Times of India

"Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty collections."

M.L. Nathan
Lynchburg College

"An outstanding review and synthesis of The Theoretical and empirical literature."

Thomas M. Young, Ph.D.
Widener University

As the course was rather practice-oriented, this book was ideal for students who wanted to learn more about theory.

Ms Agnieszka Paruzel
Faculty of Psychology & Sport Science, University of Bielefeld
December 8, 2014

Too advanced for our students in present HRM-programme. We are renewing our programme and this text is still under consideration, but for 2017

Mr Roger Holmberg
Psykologi och Organisationsstudier, Institutionen för Individ och Samhälle
December 10, 2014
Key features
  • Reflects the field of OC's rapid growth and success into a far more diffuse and complex study than it was just a few decades ago.
  • Provides a good synthesis, which discusses different theoretical perspectives and resulting implications.
  • Puts theories into a historical and contextual perspective.