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Organizational Change: Transition and Transformation
Fall 2000 (90-809)

Professor Denise M. Rousseau
Carnegie-Mellon University
Heinz School of Public Policy and Management
Campus phone: 268-8470 Fax: 268-7036
Home phone and fax: 487-6639
E-Mail: rousseau@andrew.cmu.edu

Organizational change occurs in many forms from minor transitions to transformations and upheavals. Effectively managing change involves different activities depending on the scope of change and the organization's readiness for it. Special attention will be given to managing disruptions from transitions and the inevitable losses that change brings.


  • Strategies for Accommodation (minor changes) versus Transformation (major upheavals)
  • Change processes
  • Diagnosing readiness for change
  • Building support and legitimacy
  • Managing transitions
  • Communicating to critical constituencies (e.g. employees, clients, boards, and the general public)
  • Support for change recipients
  • Creating permanent change (making it last)

    *Course Pack 


Although there are no formal course pre-requisites, this course builds upon organizational behavior concepts and theory presented in Performance Management (90-808) and Human Behavior in Organizations (45-792). Students who have not completed one of these courses should obtain preparatory readings from the instructor.

Behavioral Norms

(1) Individual Participation: You are expected to come prepared to ask questions that add to your understanding of the course materials as well as that of your fellow students.

(2) "New Business": Each class will begin with a poll of new business items. These are brief ("sound bite") reports on events (in the news--front page, business, or sports section; Heinz; your personal experiences) pertinent to organizational change. I expect each class member will make at least one contribution to New Business during the mini term.

(3) Readings: You are expected to read all the materials and in your reading, you should continually ask yourself the following two questions:

(a) Do I understand the theory and/or principles of this material?

(b) So what? What are its implications? How would I apply this as a manager?

You are asked to actively participate by raising these questions as well as others during our class time.

All assigned readings should be completed prior to the class for which they are specified. Readings will be briefly reviewed to check for understanding at the beginning of each class. Be prepared to answer questions regarding the readings and more importantly to ask them.


Your grade will be determined based upon:

Reading log: One paragraph summary of insights from each assigned reading (turned in within one week of assignment): 30%

Group Project #1 (Global Multi-Products Chile): 30%

Group Project #2 (Organizational change analysis): 30%

Individual participation: 10%

Reading Log

For each (non-case) reading assigned you will receive two points for turning in a one page summary of your thoughts and insights.

If you agree with the reading, tell us with what. If you dispute the author, indicate how and why.

What practical applications can you identify from the reading?

You will receive two points for each successfully completed summary. Previous students have benefited from using the reading logs to retain a permanent record of the useful ideas each reading offers.

Note: Reading logs are to be turned in only on ARTICLES read, not on case analyses which serve as a basis for class discussion.

Term Papers

Two group* papers (maximum length 7 pages) are required in this course. Their purpose is to give you an opportunity to apply class concepts in the solution of practical problems.

 Paper #1: Global Multi-Products Chile

    What changes were made at Multi-Products Chile? Why were these changes made? What is your evaluation of these changes — do they make sense or not? Think about these questions in relation to the company’s strategy.
    What are the barriers to change that Bob Thompson faces?
    In Bob Thompson’s position at the end of the case, what would you do and how would you do it?

Paper #2: Organizational Change Analysis


October 26 Week 1: Introduction/Syllabus

Basic Issues in Change Management


Types of change: Drift, Accommodation and Transformation

A basic model: Four essential conditions


"The challenge of change"

Rousseau (ch 6) "Changing the psychological contract"

Case: Riverview Hospital

November 2 Week 2: Beginnings--Vision


  • Creating a felt need for change
  • Communication strategies

    Imagery and message sending


      Case: Bob Galvin and Motorola (A)

    (1) What impact do you think Galvin's offer meeting speech will have?

    (2) What should Galvin do next? What should Human Resources do next?

    (3) Is Galvin's leadership philosophy and practice a model of "Visionary Leadership"?

    Readings: Spector: From bogged down to fired up: Inspiring organizational change

    Jick: Vision thing (A and B)--both should be summarized in a single reading log

     November 9 Week 3: Change Agents--Building Support


  • Building credibility
      • Getting resources and political support

        Who makes the best change agents

      Case: Peter Browning and Continental White Cap and Global Multi-Products Chile


  • Jick: Implementing change
  • Nadler and Tuschman Organizational frame bending: Principles for managing reorientation

    Beer, Eistenstat and Spector: Why change programs don't produce change

    Paper #1 due November 13

    NOTE: No class on November 16 or November 23

    November 30 Week 4: Managing Losses


        Outcome Fairness: Remedies, Substitutes

    • Procedural justice
      • Escalating contract violation

      Case: Rick Miller (A and B)

    (1) What does it feel like to be sold? How have Miller's life and career been affected by each of the two ownership changes?

    (2) How would you have reacted differently if you were in his shoes?

    (3) What would you do now if you were Miller? How and when should he meet with his staff? What would you say to them? (Be prepared to role play)

    (4) How would you advise him to cope with these circumstances personally?

    Readings: Rousseau (ch 5) "Violating the psychological contract" *

    December 7 Week 5: Recipients of change

      One-page proposal due

      Case: Donna Dubinsky

    (1) Why was Dubinsky initially so successful at Apple?

    (2) Why did she respond the way she did to the JIT proposal? (put yourselves in her situation, intellectually and emotionally)

    (3) What do you think she should have done differently? Be specific.

      Readings: Jick: Note on recipients of change

    December 14 Week 6: Making it last -- Institutionalization

      Making change last

      Permeating the organization

      Integrated change into "systems" (e.g. HR, operations)

    Readings: Goodman: Why Productivity Programs Efforts Fail: Reasons and Solutions

      Case: The Computational Finance Center

    The FAST educational technology has been introduced throughout the world. While there was a lot of enthusiasm about adopting this new technology in Mexico, two years after the planning for the introduction of FAST, the system was not really operational.

    Assignment Questions:

    1. Why was this FAST implementation unsuccessful?
    2. What role did cross-national factors play?
    3. What challenges are there to institutionalizing changes in a university environment?

      Sound bite on your case.

    Paper #2 due December 14

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