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Title: Veranderen en macht is van alledag. Een onderzoek naar macht binnen veranderingstrajecten
Authors: Bol, APJM
Issue Date: 15-Dec-2014
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Change and power are a part of daily life “A study of the power within change processes” Abstract Change processes occur in many organisations. Literature research shows that approximately 70% of such change processes does not succeed (Boonstra, 2000). Scientists are investigating why so many change initiatives fail. A key reason seems to be that power dynamics within change projects are underestimated (Boonstra & Bennebroek Gravenhorst, 1998; Boonstra & Steensma, 1996; Dobbinga, 2001; Homan, 2005, 2006, 2013). Scientists appeal for more research into the nature of change processes within organisations. Personally, I am interested in the combination of change processes, social actions by people involved in these change processes, and power that is exercised. My personal interest and the appeal by scientists for more research into change processes have led to this study. The purpose of the study was to gain more insight, and to further develop and supplement existing knowledge in the field of power in relation to social actions in a change project. From a social and economic perspective it is important that change processes do not fail. This study has collected information to be used to enhance change projects in general, and in particular at the Nationale Polite (Dutch National Police Force) since this study was carried out in this organisation. The research problem definition is: What power sources impact social actions in a change process? In order to find an answer to the research problem, literature research was performed into the concepts; changes, planned changes, social actions, and power sources. I reached the following theoretical conclusion based on said literature research: Change is a continuous social process that takes place among people. It is a process in which knowledge, experience and opinions are shared and assessed in a dialogue; and new meanings emerge from these processes. These are adopted in return and propagated. That is how changes are effected. In case of planned change, it is assumed that organisations are engineerable. Social actions are all human actions that are aimed at clarifying a specific purpose, and those actions will be aimed at behaviour of others. The intent of social actions between people may either be aimed at the most efficient actions with a paramount pursuit of one’s own interests and targets, or at actions with a view to mutual understanding and achieving a joint framework that is mutually acceptable. Power is an asset and an ability that may be used. Power is perceived as a type of behaviour, but also as a feature of a person or a group. The features of relationships existing among persons or groups determine the balance of power between them. Besides literature research, qualitative research was performed by means of a case study. The case host organisation was Nationale Politie; unit Zeeland-West-Brabant. Two methods of data collection were used in the case study; interviews and document collection. These two methods were chosen to enhance the reliability of the research project. Research results have led to the following conclusions: Both supervisors and employees exercise various power sources. Power sources provide individuals and groups with the ability to exert influence during social actions. Power strategies of supervisors depend heavily on their personal style. In this respect, it is relevant to what extent supervisors are focused on management by exercising control and discipline, or rather by management based on trust. As employees are more dependent on supervisors or feel that they are more dependent, power exercised by supervisors over employees increases. A decisive factor is the way in which supervisors deal with an ‘increased’ power level. Supervisors formally possess ‘legitimate power’ but as they increasingly exercise power in their position, it may lead to opposition from employees. In their turn, employees may also demonstrate their power. As employees deploy power sources, supervisors will experience mutual dependence. And mutual dependence results in mutual influence. Change initiatives lead to changes in power sources. As a result, employees may gain access to a power source that they did not have access to before. Consequently, power is not a static element but rather subject to change. Some power sources are more effective than others. Falbe’s and Yuckle’s (1992) theory demonstrates that personal power is more effective than position power. Results of this study have shown that personal power is not often exercised. It may be concluded from the study that some differences are detectable between nationwide instructions as on how to effect changes, and the way the change process towards employee participation is executed. This study shows that change projects towards employee participation are brought about based on local interactions, in which experience, opinions and knowledge are shared and assessed. This leads to new meanings that are subsequently shared. Power sources play an important role in the entire process. Though this role has not been addressed in documentation (sources), it still has an impact on change processes. Based on the conclusions, three recommendations for further research have emerged. Firstly, it is recommended to perform continued research into finding effective methods for supervisors based on personal power sources during the implementation of employee participation. Secondly, it is recommended to conduct further research into effective deployment of the expert power source, since supervisors and employees appear to be in dire need of knowledge and expertise in the field of employee participation. Finally, it is recommended to conduct further research to investigate why reference power is rarely found and how it may be deployed as yet, since it is an effective power source.
Appears in Collections:MSc Management Science

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