Change in a public-recreation organization : a multiple-case study
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This research examines the planning and implementation of a far-reaching transformation initiative in a public recreation organization. Utilizing a mixed-methods longitudinal multiple-case study approach, the present study demonstrates differences in individual and group level perceptions of what constitutes ‘major’ changes and challenges, despite organizational leadership’s attempts to advance a uniform and limited change agenda. To further differentiate between change agent and change recipient experiences, I employed a bricolage lens that allowed for repeated analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from various theoretical perspectives. Specifically, I focus on change readiness, paradox management, the attention-based view of the firm, and identity work. In the first results chapter of this study, I describe how employees differ in their readiness for change based on their hierarchical level within the organization. Lack of readiness occurred when participants focused their evaluations of change on readiness dimensions tied to concerns for personal benefits and change processes. These concerns were most prevalent among members at lower levels of the organization. High levels of readiness were driven by a strong belief in the need for change, which in turn was emphasized by change agents and upper management. In the second results chapter, I discuss how the organization’s division manager at times successfully utilized paradox management strategies that emphasized the value of embracing uncertainty to help change recipients work through change-related concerns. The impact of these communication strategies depended on the paradox experienced by employees. In the third results chapter, I use the concept of attention-based sensemaking to show how the search for and acceptance of change-related solutions not only depends on how the change is being communicated but on institutional and structural factors that determine what issues and resolutions are considered as potentially viable. Finally, in the fourth results chapter, I analyze how public service employees react to the imposition of a mandatory dress code as a matter of identity regulation and how these processes affect other change processes.