BPR and Organisational Culture
This chapter summarises and compares the findings of the literature research and the preliminary survey research, as well as identifying areas for further research.
Using contemporary books and articles, this paper, in chapter 2, defined BPR as "the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes". Using McKinsey's organisational model it showed that a full BPR programme impacts 6 out of 7 of the organisational dimensions, and that it is driven by the 7th, Strategy. It then inferred, that a full BPR programme will involve significant change. Because McKinsey places Shared Values at the heart of an organisation it was also inferred that a full BPR programme will involve significant organisational culture change.
In chapter 3, culture was shown to be complex and subject to widely varying views of what it is. A model proposed by Rousseau was used to describe culture's various elements. These ranged from visible artefacts and behaviour patterns to invisible behaviour norms, values, assumptions and beliefs. Basic tenants varied as to whether culture is a root metaphor embedded deep within an organisation's beliefs and values, or an external, almost uncontrollable, variable, or as an independent variable that can be manipulated. Management's view was that culture directly impacted performance and was therefore a variable to be controlled and aligned to strategy. Others highlighted the anxiety reducing value of culture to the individual and the sense of belonging it gave. A number of post-modern writers supported this individualistic view and argued about the ethics of trying to change people's values and beliefs. Where there was a belief that culture could be changed, it was noted that techniques varied according to which layer of the model was emphasised. They ranged from the 'excellence school' that promoted creating visible artefacts through to the organisational development school which promoted group and individual therapy. This therapy school aimed to help people recognise the basis of their inner beliefs and values as a preliminary step to changing them. All these various views were summarised in the form a diagram. Finally it was noted that some writers see power and politics being far more a determinant of change than culture.
Chapter 4 looked at how the various proponents of BPR view culture. Most were management consultants who generally advocate a systematically implementation of BPR, yet their role for culture varied. Some view cultural aspects as an enabler, to be directed towards the organisation's new goals, whereas others see culture as an inhibitor, to be neutralised, for example through forced or coerced redundancies. Academics were seen to take a broader view. The antagonists among them see failure to consider the human dimension as the reason for the supposedly high failure rate of BPR. Whilst some also see culture as an inhibitor, they argue that this is a natural part of a human social system, and something to be seen in a positive light. Between these views, a more middle stand emphasises the need to equally manage the system and human aspects within what are seen as complex change management situations.
From a number of issues that the literature research highlighted, one issue was chosen for further investigation by means of some preliminary research with a management perspective. Chapter 5 defined the chosen issue as a hypothesis: that organisations attempt to change their culture by manipulating internal environments (e.g. artefacts) rather than by trying to change employee's inner assumptions and beliefs. Specific issues addressed were: does management think organisational culture can be changed; what culture levels do they try to change; what type of techniques are used; and how effective do they think these techniques are?
Questionnaires were received from 33 organisations, mostly financial institutions, representing over 25% of the UK organisations that have declared themselves to have undertaken BPR.
Chapter 6 reported on the findings, which because of the small sample must be regarded as tentative. Respondent organisations are implementing BPR together with significant organisational restructuring. They are changing both their organisation's type of structures, predominately from traditional hierarchical to process, as well as changing their management style, mostly from role to directive. Management in these organisations firmly believe that employees beliefs and values can be changed. They use a range of techniques across all the layers of the defined culture model. There is an emphasis towards the harder techniques, especially those of a coercive nature and those emphasising management to employee communications and direction. Over half of the organisations did not report high levels of employee improvements but those that did tended to use a larger number of cultural change techniques and these always include hard techniques. Those declaring most improvement are also using soft techniques. However, group organisational development and individual therapy techniques were hardly used.
The survey suggests that management do in-fact concentrate primarily on techniques associated with changing behavioural patterns. However, it was not proven that these are promoted by management consultants, or that they were chosen for being more visible, or for producing quicker results. Management do believe that the inner elements of values and beliefs can be changed but there was little consensus over the barriers to change other than it takes a long time. No respondent expressed concern over the ethics of trying to change employee's values and beliefs.
Based on this preliminary research and tentative analysis, organisations wishing to maximise employee behaviour as a result of implementing BPR would be advised to consider using a range of cultural change techniques involving both hard and soft techniques. This could well have implications for management behaviour and style, which may in turn may require management training and education as well as a change of attitude.
Appendix 12 summarises the above findings and identifies a number of detailed questions for possible further research. Major issues for possible further research are outlined here.
This research has been of a preliminary nature based on a small sample. Further research should be undertaken to validate the finding. This would require a more focused, deeper and controlled investigation, probably on a few selected organisations that met a particular profile. Secondary research could be used to identify those context variables that may have some influence within the context of BPR and organisational culture change. These could be, for example, industry sector, organisational age, size, and the combination of 'old' and 'new' management structure and style. The type, mix, sequence, and intensity of the techniques used would need to be controlled in order to measure the outcome in terms of employee behavioural changes. Agreed measures and methods would be needed to measure these behavioural changes. In-depth interviews with management would seek to understand the reasons why particular techniques were or were not used, as well as expectations as to outcomes. Nether-the-less, with the need to research within the real world (as opposed to a controlled laboratory), and with so many variables, many being of a subjective nature, such research may only be indicative rather than absolute.
This preliminary research has been from the single management perspective. Employees at the receiving end have not been consulted and employee views appear to be non existent in the literature. Further research is needed into employee attitudes, feelings and responses to the use of these techniques by management.
Research could also be usefully undertaken into the effectiveness of the mix of these various cultural change techniques, especially combining hard and soft techniques. Whilst techniques associated with behavioural patterns appear to be most used and, in time, delivering results, there could well be other factors (variables). In particular researchers should consider Pettigrew's assertion that context is a key variable. There is a need to assess the impact of the current recession and the consequential pressures on employees to perform or be made redundant. Management must be ready to adapt its mix of techniques when the recession ends and when employee mobility exists once again.
Finally, research could identify why management appears to be under-utilising the use of group OD and individual therapy techniques as advocated by Schein and others. These researchers assert the importance of self-assessment and self-realisation as a prerequisite if people are to change their inner attitudes, values and beliefs.
To Chapter 8 Conclusions
[Front Page] [Executive
[Content] [1 Introduction]
[2 BPR] [3 Culture]
[4 BPR & Culture]
[5 Preliminary Research] [6 Findings] [7 Summary] [8 Conclusions] [Appendices] [Bibliography]
Original report: January 1995 This page created: March 2000 © Managing Change 1995,96,97,98,99,2000 www.managingchange.com
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