Outline and discuss the value of contingency approach to change?

There are many kinds of change management approaches to organisation change which are variation and flexibility. For instance, one of kind the contingency approach to management is based on the idea that there is no one best way to manage and that to be effective, planning, organizing, leading and controlling (Gale 2006; Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009). Moreover, the best–developed change contingency approach is associated with the work of Dexter Dunphy and Doug Stace. They published their book – Under New Management in 1990 and renewed the book the following years. Based on a sample of 20 Australian organisations, they research their approach. They had drawn up figure (figure 1) for their model which argued the style of change such as collaborative, consultative, directive, or coercive; as well as the scale of the change (fine-tuning, incremental adjustment, modular transformation, or corporate transformation) has to be matched to the needs of the organisation.

Figure 1: Implementing Change – Change Management, Contingency, and Processual Approaches

Figure 1 

Source: Dunford & Akin (2009, p230)

In their model, they made five main change approaches such as developmental transitions, task-focused transitions, charismatic transformation, turnarounds and coercive/directive change. And these approaches standards different paths of change, they took the organisation to adopt at different periods of time. In addition, they had some suggestions. For instance, the consultative and directive change management styles are likely to use by medium-to high –performance organisations; fine-tuning/Taylorism are most time to be unsuccessful. Even though this, they still keep improvement the model to be in the prevailing circumstances (Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009). 

As well, another contingency approach appears in the work of Huy that includes four types of approach such as commanding change intervention, engineering intervention, teaching intervention, and socializing intervention. For these approaches, every type has its limitations. For instance, the teaching approach is very individualistic; it may not be aligned to corporate strategic objective. Although they are limited, the some organisations use them (Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009).

In addition, the contingency approaches are not dominant currently; there are many reasons for this. For instance, in 2001the article by Pettigrew, Woodman & Cameron (Academy of Management Journal) indentify five reasons for the relative lack of ‘voice’ given to contingency approaches. At the first, the Leppitt argues the problem ‘fitting’ for an organisation change program. Second, it needs to compare the ‘off-the-shelf’ neatness and simplicity; the managers need to decide which avenue to pursue for changing situation. Third, the main focus of contingency approaches is on the specific style of leadership, compared to the scale of required change, rather than on a specific set of change action steps. Fourth, the ‘paths of change’ step raises the problems because it arranges changes among different styles of leadership, different time and different behaviours at the same time. Then the last one, there is problem changes, sometimes the organisation just need to change apart of problem but, actually it changes all parts (Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009; Hofler 2009). Therefore, this is why contingency approaches are not dominant.



Gale 2006, Contingency Approach to Management, viewed on 23 September 2009, http://www.bookrags.com/research/contingency-approach-to-management-eom/

Hofler D 2009, Contingency Approach to Management, viewed on 23 September 2009, http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/management/Comp-De/Contingency-Approach-to-Management.html

Palmer, I, Dunford, R & Akin, G 2009, Managing organisational change: a multiple perspectives approach, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill/Irwin, Boston, MA


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