Understanding the divide between the theory and practice of organisational change

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Julien Pollack


This paper reviews the different ways that academics and practitioners write about and discuss change management, to develop an understanding of whether there is a divide between the theory and practice of change management. This research used scientometric research techniques to compare three corpora: one based on the most cited research in the general management literature on change management; one based on the most cited research in specialist change management journals; and one based on interviews with practising change managers.

It was found that the general management literature emphasised an abstract understanding of knowledge management and the learning organisation, while the change management literature focused more on issues associated with value, culture and social identity. The practitioners emphasised issues at the individual, project and team levels, the need for the effective use of targeted communication to achieve organisational change objectives, and the value of rapidly identifying key drivers in a new context. This research found significant differences between these three corpora, which lends support to other researchers’ claims of a divide between theory and practice in change management.


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