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From panoptical to polyphonic approaches

Franois Pichault

INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................4 1. A PROCESS TO BE DESCRIBED: PURPOSES, LEVELS AND TEMPORALITIES OF CHANGE .....6 1.1. WHAT IS BEING CHANGED? ..........................................................................................................................6 1.1.1. Organisational change ...........................................................................................................................7 1.1.2. Cultural change....................................................................................................................................11 1.1.3. Change of strategy ...............................................................................................................................15 1.1.4. Change of HRM policy .........................................................................................................................17 1.1.5. Technological change ..........................................................................................................................20 1.1.6. On the use of ideal types ......................................................................................................................24 1.2. THE SCALE OF CHANGE ..............................................................................................................................26 1.3. THE QUESTION OF TEMPORALITIES ...........................................................................................................29 2. A PROCESS TO BE EXPLAINED: THE DOMINANT APPROACHAND THE OTHERS ..............31 2.1. AN INITIAL TYPOLOGY ...............................................................................................................................34 2.2. THE PLANNING APPROACH (RATIONALISM) ..............................................................................................37 2.2.1. The vagaries of planned change...........................................................................................................37 2.2.2. Main characteristics of the approach ..................................................................................................38 2.3. THE POLITICAL APPROACH ........................................................................................................................41 2.3.1. Major conflicts .....................................................................................................................................41 2.3.2. Main characteristics of the approach ..................................................................................................41 2.4. THE INCREMENTAL APPROACH .................................................................................................................46 2.4.1. A change project following on from other projects ..........................................................................46 2.4.2. Main characteristics of the approach ..................................................................................................47 2.5. THE CONTINGENT APPROACH ....................................................................................................................48 2.5.1. A necessary adaptation ........................................................................................................................48 2.5.2. Main characteristics of the approach ..................................................................................................48 2.6. THE INTERPRETATIVE APPROACH .............................................................................................................50 2.6.1. Communication by denigration ............................................................................................................50 2.6.2. Main characteristics of the approach ..................................................................................................51 2.7. TOWARDS AN INTEGRATING MODEL..........................................................................................................53 2.7.1. Is description separate from explanation?...........................................................................................53 2.7.2. The stakes of a plural explanation: the five forces model....................................................................55 3. A CHANGE TO BE EVALUATED .........................................................................................................58 3.1. FROM THE FIVE FORCES MODEL TO A MULTIDIMENSIONAL EVALUATION OF CHANGE ...........................58 3.2. FOUR CONTRASTING CASES OF CHANGE ...................................................................................................60 3.2.1. Modernisation of HRM at a public administration (case no. 1) ..........................................................61 3.2.2. Strategic restructuring of a media group (case no. 2) .........................................................................63 3.2.3. Towards a culture of social responsibility at an air freight company (case no. 3) .............................67 3.2.4. Change of information system at a press agency (case no. 4) .............................................................71 3.3. MULTIDIMENSIONAL EVALUATION OF FOUR CASES OF CHANGE..............................................................74 3.3.1. Taking account of stakeholders expectations .....................................................................................74 3.3.2. From consideration of expectations to a multidimensional evaluation ...............................................77 4. A PROCESS TO BE ANTICIPATED ......................................................................................................80 4.1. THE PREDICTIVE CAPACITIES OF THE FIVE FORCES MODEL.....................................................................80 4.2. SCENARIOS OF EVOLUTION ........................................................................................................................85 4.2.1. Perpetuation or adaptation ..................................................................................................................86 4.2.2. Dissidence or innovation......................................................................................................................88 4.3. IS CONGRUENCE NECESSARY? ..................................................................................................................93 5. A PROCESS TO BE MANAGED .......................................................................................................... 100 5.1. FROM THE FIVE FORCES ANALYSIS TO POLYPHONIC MANAGEMENT .....................................................100

5.2. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF POLYPHONIC CHANGE MANAGEMENT .................................................................105 5.2.1. Characterising the influence system in force .....................................................................................109 5.2.2. Locating informal communication circuits ........................................................................................110 5.2.3. Identifying the main stakeholders ......................................................................................................111 5.2.4. Analysing internal and external mobilisation capacities ...................................................................113 5.2.5. Anticipating the means of action likely to be deployed ......................................................................114 5.2.6. Identifying a translator.......................................................................................................................116 5.2.7. Mobilising and enrolling spokespeople for the different stakeholders ..............................................118 5.2.8. Formalising a common objective .......................................................................................................119 5.2.9. Abandoning the myth of the predetermination of tasks and reform of current practices ..................121 5.2.10. Avoiding the search for consensus and favouring compromises .....................................................122 5.2.11. Promoting unforeseen innovations and appropriations...................................................................126 5.2.12. Making relevant use of the power of the joker .................................................................................130 5.2.13. Identifying key actions and monitoring indicators...........................................................................132 5.2.14. Evaluating the process continuously................................................................................................135 5.2.15. Communicating constantly about the process under way ................................................................138 5.2.16. Socialising new entrants...................................................................................................................140 5.2.17. Summary...........................................................................................................................................143 5.3. CAN WE IMPORT A POLYPHONIC MANAGEMENT STYLE? ....................................................................144 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................................... 151 REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................................... 155

INTRODUCTION Where does organisational change come from? According to the texts we refer to, it would appear to result from the implementation of major strategic decisions (Chandler, 1962), from a transformation of structures and internal modes of operation (automation of processes, increase in size, restructuring, etc.) or from an adaptation to environmental variations (vagaries of the markets, regulatory changes, etc.). However, we acknowledge that these three poles are often in close interaction. Strategic decisions are themselves influenced to a great extent by environmental variations and in turn lead to structural modifications. They can also contribute to shaping the external and internal context of the organisation, by modifying certain characteristics and/or components. The origin of change is therefore often multi-faceted, made up of a set of interrelated variables. Most managers nowadays believe that they are permanently immersed in situations of change : according to them, it would be wrong to believe that corporate life consists of periods of change alternating with periods of greater stability. The globalisation of exchanges, the massive irruption of information technologies and crises in the financial system now require organisations to adopt flexible ways of working that enable them to constantly adapt to background fluctuations. Seen this way, being involved with change, means being involved with the organisation itself, since change has become a routine there. How can we resolve these debates, which have both theoretical and practical aspects? Initially, we need to clarify the subject that we are discussing. The first chapter presents a set of tools that are available in management science to describe changes, their nature, scale, temporality etc., drawing on various case studies of change in the areas of organisation, strategy, technology, HRM, etc. 1 We will then attempt to explain these changes, drawing on various theoretical approaches (planning-based, contingent, political, incremental and interpretativist models) articulated within a single analytical framework, with a view to proposing an integrated model called the five forces. The same case study will serve as an empirical illustration of these various approaches. This is the subject of the second chapter. The third chapter considers how we evaluate a change process by immersing ourselves in the reality of four contrasting case studies. We will take a look at an attempt to individualise human resource management policy at a public administration; the adoption of a new cost leadership strategy at a media group; the launch of a social responsibility approach at an air freight company; and the updating of the information system at a press agency. These four cases will enable us to draw up a multidimensional evaluation chart based on the five forces

1 Except where otherwise stated, most of the case studies presented refer to research interventions carried out by our research team, the LENTIC. These generally lasted several months and combined the following techniques: interviews with dozens of key players, participative observation and document analysis. We were responsible for writing up the case studies per se, taking care to ensure that, for ethical reasons, the research intervention from which they were derived had finished long enough ago to enable us to maintain a certain distance from the organisation and players concerned.

model: we will thus be able to take a new look at evaluating the success or failure of a change process. Based on these case studies, the fourth chapter invites us to consider change as a process to be anticipated, using several more or less probable scenarios. The five forces model, applied to the case studies presented above, will in fact help us to formulate a certain number of predictive hypotheses on the probable evolution of change processes, which will include the central role of management style. Two categories will be proposed with regard to this: the panoptical style (seeing all, controlling all) and the polyphonic style (several voices in dialogue). The fifth and final chapter, dedicated to change as a process to be managed, shifts from the analytical register which has been favoured until now to the normative register and proposes, on the basis of the hypotheses formulated in the previous chapter, concrete courses of action drawing on the various theoretical approaches articulated within the five forces model. Two new research intervention cases will be presented. The first will act as a starting point for defining concrete courses of action connected to the polyphonic management style; the second will show how an external party can refer to such a management style when assisting with a change process. This work thus intends to propose a structured approach to change (describe, explain, evaluate, anticipate, manage), which serves as a basis for teaching, research and managerial practices. The alternation between theoretical comments and case studies will hopefully help to grasp the full complexity of the phenomenon, while making it accessible to everyone.

We would like to thank our colleague and friend Jean Nizet for his careful proofreading of the manuscript, France Bierbaum, for her meticulous help with the final formatting of the text, and the whole team at the LENTIC (HEC-Management School of the University of Lige), which contributed greatly to the empirical parts of the work through its many research intervention activities.





In this chapter you will find the tools needed to describe the change process, that is: - its purpose and aims (is it a change of organisation, culture, strategy, HRM policy, production technology, information system, etc.?); - its scale (is it a change of strategic, managerial or operative importance?); - its temporality (how can we define the start of the process, its key stages, its end date?)

Has change become a commonplace phenomenon in the life of contemporary organisations? Has change management not become synonymous with management itself? Indeed, the managers who talk about change as a routine present us with a picture of change which no longer has anything specific about it. To try to frame an answer to these questions, we first need to engage in a systematised description of the process in question, based on a few methodological and conceptual distinctions that will help us to approach change as a specific phenomenon, which therefore merits special attention. 1.1. What is being changed? From the outset, we need to agree on what phenomenon we are talking about. Change can just as well be intentional (or deliberate) and thus the subject of a programme, temporal sequencing, communication actions, etc. as it can be created gradually throughout the organisations life cycle (emergence of new ways of carrying out the work process, for example). However, it is agreed that it is most often the result of a managerial intention and can therefore be considered to be programmed most of the time (Wilson, 1992). The purpose or aim of change is an initial area of differentiation: is it a case of changing the way the organisation functions, its HRM policy, business strategy or information system? These various purposes are undoubtedly linked, yet the fact remains that the very nature of change in other words, the starting point of the process must be clearly identified insofar as it refers to players representations of the nature of the process under way: they must therefore be understood as accurately as possible. In this respect it may be useful to take an ideal-typical approach, which in some ways makes it possible to give a shape to the change process. We should remember that this approach consists of developing imaginary tables based on elements from real life taken to the extreme limit of their coherence, which then serve as a yardstick for its exploration. Here we will content ourselves with illustrating some of the purposes of change, using relatively well-documented typologies: organisational structure, culture, strategy, human resource management, production technology and information system architecture.

1.1.1. Organisational change If the change process essentially consists of modifying organisational functioning (the way people work, how the organisation is divided into units, the level at which decisions are made, hierarchical structure, etc.), we can make use of the classic distinction between mechanical and organic structures, established by Burns and Stalker (1961). Nowadays the distinction appears as a pioneering work, insofar as the two extreme forms still seem to constitute the obligatory reference point for management theorists when they contrast old and new, stable and unstable, fossilisation and dynamism. Another more elaborate distinction refers back to the different configurations defined by Mintzberg (1982, 1986). By synthesising the typologies presented by this author (Nizet and Pichault, 2001), it is possible to identify five types of configuration: the entrepreneurial configuration is a young, small organisation which employs unskilled staff. It is coordinated by direct supervision, leading to a centralisation of power in the hands of the strategic apex; the machine configuration is a form of organisation where operators work is highly divided, vertically as well as horizontally. Coordination is achieved by formal mechanisms: at the level of the operators and standardisation of procedures or results; and at the level of units, planning of activities or performance controls. The organisation is old and large in size. System goals generally prevail over mission goals. This configuration has two variants, depending on whether there is an owner with a strong influence over the organisation (we then refer to an instrument, with a high degree of centralisation of decision-making in the hands of the strategic apex and their analyst allies), or whether such a presence is absent (we then refer to a closed system, with greater decentralisation of decision-making and more conflicts between rival clans); the missionary configuration is characterised by the predominance of one or more missions. Coordination is achieved by standardisation of values. Insofar as the players are loyal to these missions and values, they are able to exercise a certain amount of power, at least over managerial or operative decisions. However, strategic decisionmaking remains quite centralised; the professional configuration involves highly skilled, hyper-specialised operators (strong horizontal division), who achieve coordination by standardisation of qualifications. They pursue specific goals and have a significant influence on decisionmaking, in an environment characterised by stability; in the adhocratic configuration, which also involves skilled operators, coordination is achieved by mechanisms that call on interpersonal relations: mutual adjustment at operator level; liaison posts, project groups etc. at unit level. The adhocratic configuration is departmentalised by products or markets. Strategic decisions remain centralised in the hands of the strategic apex but hinge on managerial and operative decisions which are themselves decentralised within teams encompassing operators, the middle line, analysts and logistical support.

Table 1: Organisational configurations

entrepreneurial Division of labour Coordination mechanisms Differentiation between units Liaison between units Concentration of power informal direct supervision low non-existent strategic apex (managing director) high

machine high vertical

missionary Indeterminate

professional high horizontal

adhocratic low

standardisation standardisation of standardisation of mutual adjustment of values qualifications procedures/result s high vertical high horizontal high horizontal high horizontal planning and control analysts socialisation, mobilisation strategic apex, analysts liaison agents, permanent committees skilled operators project groups, matrix structure skilled operators

Centralisation high intermediate low low for operative of the decisiondecisions making process Priority goals mission goals + system goals take mission goals take varied concepts of mission goals + survival take priority priority the mission efficiency take priority priority Market hostile/simple stable/simple stable, complex, stable/complex unstable, complex, characteristics non-hostile hostile, heterogeneous (based on Nizet and Pichault, 2001)

Organisational transformation at Club Vacances Club Vacances was founded in 1950 by a group of friends led by Grard B. Initially, the association was set up to provide group holidays in unusual places. The members were mainly young people who liked sport and especially the sea. The first village, made with tents, was a campsite in the Balearics. After four years trading, Robert T. was made Director and is now considered as the real founder of Club Vacances. Robert T. joined the Club via his family-owned tent-making business, which was an important supplier to the Club. In 1981, Club Vacances already managed 90 villages in 40 different countries and five continents. As well as its main activities, it has expanded into other areas of activity so it can offer a wide range of services: this diversification makes its internal management considerably more complicated. As a result of the expansion, today over 1,600,000 people stay in Club Vacances villages compared to 2,300 in 1950. To finance this expansion, Robert T. decided to go public and float the company on the New York Stock Exchange: the operation was carried out in 1984. Various financial, private and institutional groups from France and abroad thus bought a share in the

companys capital and gradually become more and more involved in its management. However, Robert T. kept the majority share and stayed at the head of the company until 1997, alongside his son Julien from 1993 onwards. Every season, all the members of staff responsible for activities organisation (known as GOs, short for gentils organisateurs or kind organisers) must be moved from one village to another, and are assigned to different areas. This has been a principle of the Club since it was formed, meaning that no-one stays on one site or is engaged in one activity for more than six months: this rotation is designed to create a family spirit within Club Vacances while regularly exposing the GOs to new work environments. The village leader reports directly to the managing director. The village leaders are practically SME managers, and behave like internal customers of the central departments (one for each geographical area). The role of the central departments is to provide them with the right resource at the right time. Every time there is a change of staff, the village leaders find themselves in charge of a village with a team they do not know. They are therefore demanding and closely monitor the actions and deeds of their GO, by supervising them directly in their daily work. Since the GO team changes every six months, a kind of book of facts and rules is left on-site so that the following team can more easily understand the methods and procedures which are specific to the village. This book is not really a way of homogenising practices, rather, it has become a collection of anecdotes on the behaviours of the village leader, the tips and tricks to know when organising an excursion, etc. Most of the time, each new team has to start from scratch, with a new budget and new guidelines from central management, which the village leader is responsible for putting into operation. This gives the village leader considerable discretionary power. The concrete organisation of the GOs work depends directly on the leaders personality and experience. The central head office has a marketing and sales director and other managers in the support functions, such as accounting, finance and tax. In fact, the structure of a village reflects the structure of the central head office. Robert T. leads the business in the same way the village leader leads their village. This trend has been reinforced since the arrival of Julien T. at the head of the company. Of course, the structure developed in 1976 (which prevailed until 1997) ended up causing the opposite problem to the one it was meant to solve: in fact, from 1993, Julien T. directly managed a hundred or so village leaders as well as 8 product directors and 14 country directors, who all reported to him from all over the world. Therefore there was an obvious information overload at his level. This problem became even more worrying as time went by, for Club Vacances grew and doubled its capacity every five years. When the company was founded, GOs from all over the world met in Paris every six months to be assigned to another village. These were big events where all the staff gathered together to talk with the managing director about any problems they had. They could also meet friends who worked in other villages, exchange their impressions of other countries, etc. Apart from their concrete implications in terms of staff allocation, these meetings were essentially special events for group celebrations, during which

everybodys commitment to the Club spirit was rekindled. However, as GO numbers grew, it became increasingly hard for them all to attend at the same time. Apart from these organisational difficulties, the pursuit of a policy of growth at all costs started to pose serious financing problems. A shareholder restructuring programme began in 1995, with a capital increase and a takeover of the family interests, which were by now in the minority, by new partners. Robert and Julien T. left their positions as cochairmen and a new Chairman was appointed by the shareholders, with the mission of getting the company back on track to achieve profitability. The recovery project (underpinned in particular by triennial and annual plans) was followed by a brand redeployment programme, with an expansion of its product range. Some directors criticised the loss of the original spirit but others stressed the fact that this was the price of saving Club Vacances. The re-launch efforts seemed to bear fruit in the two years that followed, with slightly positive results. However, with the unexpected crisis that rippled through the travel sector after the events of 11 September 2001, the results went back into the red: 2003 saw a loss of 94 million euros. In the end, the leading European hotel group became the main shareholder of Club Vacances, with a share of around 30%. It brought in a new control strategy, consisting of rigorous annual budget programmes. In its heroic yearly years, the many demands made of the GOs were offset by the family spirit that reigned within the Club. The permanent party spirit and holiday atmosphere continue to attract young people, as on-spec applications come in every day. A unique aspect of the GOs life lies in the fact that Club Vacances takes care of all their needs. Clothes are provided and washed, meals are always ready, accommodation is provided free of charge, etc. Everything is provided to ensure their full devotion to the Club. However, the advantages offered by the GO role end up seeming like a golden prison. Especially since the early family spirit seems to have been abandoned in favour of a wild race to profitability, which has been speeding up since the financial difficulties of the 90s and especially since Julien T. was replaced as head of the group. Under these conditions, the total commitment of the staff is becoming increasingly problematic. The proof is in the growing number of employees who go to employment tribunals to claim payment for overtime. In this case, change is linked to an evolution of the organisations life cycle. Originally, the way Club Vacances worked was similar to the elements of the entrepreneurial configuration (high level of direct supervision of village leaders by Julien T., and of staff by their village leaders, in the absence of formalised procedures; high level of centralisation at the strategic apex; threats to the survival of the organisation) and the missionary configuration (standardisation of values in the sense of devotion, predominance of the mission and family spirit, many socialisation activities). The growth of the activity and scope of Club Vacances is marked by the arrival of international shareholders and the progressive formalisation of activities via the annual programme and budgetary controls. The change experienced by Club Vacances can thus be described as a gradual shift from an entrepreneurial configuration with certain features of the missionary configuration to what is largely a machine configuration of the instrument type. Such a change is accompanied by multiple tensions revealing the loss of power by certain players (strategic apex, middle line and original GOs), and the increase in power of others (owners and analysts).


1.1.2. Cultural change Since the 80s, several authors have advocated the need for investment in the area of corporate culture, aimed at encouraging employee behaviour in a particular direction (customer focus, the need for flexibility, ethical frameworks or other fundamental values, etc.). Culture thus becomes a real managerial project (Peters, 1988; Reitter et al., 1991; Champy, 1995), designed to offset the hyper-differentiation caused by the increasing segmentation of social ties by using sophisticated integration mechanisms (Louart, 1994). Some do not hesitate to lambast the instrumentalisation which underpins a number of actions carried out in this area, arguing that culture is not a variable that can be manipulated to suit managerial intentions (Aktouf, 1990). The fact remains that many initiatives are launched with a view to moving away from old habits and forging a common identity, presented as desirable: socialisation rites, mentoring of new entrants, celebratory events, promotion of signs of belonging, organisation of extramural activities designed to encourage team bonding (Ehrenberg, 1992), etc. How do we characterise these managerial investments, which are not always based on the same values? The typology proposed by Boltanski and Thvenot (1991) identifies various conventions based on a certain number of orders of worth our polities. Below is a summary, reworked by Nizet (2002). The first type of reference point, the first component of the convention consists in the statements produced within the context of the organisation. First and foremost this applies to the more official statements, those found in business reports, promotional documents, etc. However, the theory of conventions invites us above all to take a look at the statements in which players justify the behaviours they adopt and the actions they carry out. Based on various statements that we encounter in a given situation, it is generally possible to identify one (or a few) of the more abstract principles called common principles which can serve as a kind of summary of the convention specific to the organisation (depending on the case, it may be to shorten delivery times, be attentive to sick peoples needs, or keep the organisations human dimension, etc.) A convention is not only made up of verbal statements, it also consists of more implicit references that relate primarily to people. A convention is thus characterised by the presence of people with characteristics such as age, sex, professional qualification, etc. These people obviously adopt behaviours and attitudes. These can be closely related, can correspond to the superior principle that governs the situation; they can also deviate from it or even contradict it. In the first instance, we say that people are great with regard to the principle in question; in the other case, they are described as small. Moreover, the people involved are not isolated from each other; from the outset they have very specific links with each other (of seniority, authority, complementing each other in the performance of certain tasks, etc.). Another category of reference points also implicit on which individuals base their decisions is made up of objects. This term has a very broad meaning: a particular building, laid out or decorated in a particular way, a particular machine, accessory, software program, rule, form etc. Among these objects, some have more characteristics, more potentialities with regard to the superior principle(s) that govern(s) the situation; others present these


characteristics or potentialities to a lesser degree. In other words, the former are more apt to fulfil the principle (great), the latter less so (small). Thus, with regard to the principle that consists of reducing delivery times, a particular order management software program will be greater than a particular book where these same orders are processed manually. A final set of criteria that make up a convention relate to space on the one hand, and time on the other. All social situations, especially organisational situations, are characterised by a certain organisation, a certain arrangement, and more abstractly by a certain concept of space conveyed by the individuals that constitute it. This space can be large or more restricted, organised around a central location or more homogeneous, closed or open, etc. Alongside this, all social situations are characterised by a certain organisation, a certain concept of time: emphasis on the here and now, on the moment, or on the contrary on the long term; orientation towards the past or the future, etc. These various reference points allow us to identify a certain number of orders of worth or polities, presented in table 2. A situation of cultural change can therefore be analysed using these various conventions. Initially, it is a case of identifying the convention or conventions that mainly characterise the existing organisational culture: the convention can refer to a single principle, but frequently includes several; in other words, it already takes the form of a compromise. Secondly, the indices of the new convention are identified, which introduces suspicion and criticism to the original convention(s). Thirdly, the initial convention reacts, either by resisting the suspicion, or by dealing with with the new convention and reaching a new compromise; in some cases the original convention may also disappear and give way entirely to the new convention. Cultural transformation of maintenance activities for a TGV (high-speed train) company Pgase was formed as a result of close cooperation between several national railway companies still with public status which were keen to operate a high-speed railway link (TGV) between several European capitals. The business, which was founded over ten years ago, enjoyed commercial success and exponential growth. As well as making use of sub-contractors (in particular for on-board services), Pgase has entrusted certain activities to partners with whom it has no contractual or hierarchical link. Such is the case with train maintenance, which is provided by a unique specialist workshop integrated into one of the three national railway companies that holds shares in Pgase. Maintenance constitutes a critical aspect of providing a quality service under optimal safety conditions, while maximising the train usage rate. In the old culture, explains one of the managers at Pgase, the networks were organised amongst themselves to carry out maintenance work following their own rules, with the consequences that you might imagine. Pgase came at the bottom of the chain and received the number of trains that were not assigned to technical operations and maintenance. We completely shook up their ways of thinking. We managed to say to them: you must not perform maintenance for maintenances sake and then see what is left for passenger transport; rather the opposite, you need to try and see what customers needs are, while


following the safety rules that are of crucial importance. According to customers needs and the time when these are expressed, lets see how we can carry out maintenance, while staying as close as possible to the companys basic missions. In concrete terms, this means that for a maximum number of trains to be made available during the day, maintenance must mainly take place at night. This is now the fleet optimisation principle that is meant to guide the maintenance activities. Alongside improved tools in the workshop and computer programs for maintenance planning, we have brought in officers in charge of day-to-day liaison with Pgases operational centre, to deal with all the unpredictable aspects of train circulation in a permanent way. While maintenance activities were mainly part of the industrial polity until recently (organisation of activities according to technical constraints, primacy of engineers and the logic of security, presence of a highly sophisticated set of tools, division of the workshop into secure areas, use of dashboards and planning programmes, etc.), a reversal gradually took place in favour of the market polity (organisation of activities according to operating constraints, primacy of salespeople and the logic of customer satisfaction, liaison officers to increase interaction with Pgases operational centre, multifunctionality of the work space, the need for an immediate reaction to the technical problems that arise, etc.). It is clear that the industrial polity has not totally disappeared but the new culture in force in the workshop now gives priority to the market polity, and presents itself in the form of a compromise between the two polities.


Table 2: Typology of polities according to Boltanski and Thvenot (1991), reworked by J.Nizet (2002)
Inspiration polity Common principle Leaving free reign to creativity and originality Those who are driven by the need to create Civic polity Pursuit of the common good and the general interest Industrial polity Control of people and things with a view to carrying out effective actions Domestic polity Respect for people and the hierarchical social order that connects them Market polity Fame polity Being known by as many people as possible Those who seek to be well-known

People who have their place

Personal enrichment through the purchase and sale of goods and financial transactions Those who work Those who, due to Those who are Those who are for a cause relating their role or connected by natural involved in trade to the general function, collaborate hierarchical relationships interest; also people to deliver an action relationships who are the or project relating to the guarantors of generations, institutions that seniority, etc. preserve this general interest Person who is disinterested, who puts the collective cause ahead of any other consideration/perso n who is motivated by personal interests, especially material and/or financial ones Person who presents professional and human qualities that make them useful, effective/person who has no productive qualities or is in a situation of illness, disability, unemployment, etc. Person who has adopted the behaviours that befit their place in the hierarchy (benevolence or self-effacement depending on their position)/person who, in an elevated position, crushes others, or, in a low position, does not know their place High degree of Objects that equipment: many consolidate machines, computer relationships (gifts, systems, announcement of regulations, births or marriages, methods, etc. for etc.) and/or mark the measuring, place that one evaluating and occupies in the coordinating hierarchy Highly structured, Valuing the interior, separating, enables the centre as people to coordinate opposed to the the various periphery, the components of the outside world, action and/or which are various stakeholders threatening; valuing the top as opposed to the bottom Person who wants to possess and manages to seize opportunities, strike deals and enrich themselves/person who is poor and does not have the means or abilities to escape from material poverty

Quality of great/small

Person who is creative, imaginative, unexpected, original/person who is unimaginative, banal, predictable, orderly

Person who shines, is famous, who is talked about and seen in the media/person who is obscure, unknown to people, discreet, hidden

Objects that have their place

Low degree of equipment: objects and technical systems in fact risk hindering creativity

Laws, regulations, technical systems, etc. that prevent individual interests prevailing over the general interest

Objects that enable and/or facilitate trade: currency, bank card, financial institutions, markets, stock exchanges, etc.

Objects that contribute to fame and reputation: logo, brochure, badge, website, newspaper, radio, TV, etc.


Valuing the individuals inner self, in particular their resources and non-rational abilities: their feelings, imagination and subconscious

Valuing the public space in which the general interest is expressed to the detriment of private space; the space is broad, planetary, because collective causes are too Valuing the long term, as collective action with a view to the common good is generally a long-term process

Very broad, without Removal of the limit or distance private inner space, which is fully absorbed by the public space; nothing must be hidden


Valuing the unexpected, rupture, questioning things

Valuing the future, which is controlled using dashboards, programmes, plans, calendars, etc.

Valuing constancy, permanence, tradition; the past is valued and must carry on into the future.

The present time: when the deal presents itself and must be seized

The ephemeral: celebrity is shortlived


1.1.3. Change of strategy To characterise the strategy options of an organisation, the management literature provides us with a certain number of typologies, the most famous of which are undoubtedly those of Miles and Snow (1978) and Porter (1980). These authors distinguish between two main types of strategy: differentiation aimed at making the product particularly attractive, by innovating systematically and/or by working on its brand image and presentation (prospector in the work of Miles and Snow); cost leadership, which looks for economies of scale and seeks to minimise expenditures of all kinds to remain competitive (defender in the work of Miles and Snow).

By referring to the conceptual work carried out by Miller (1986), we can relate the first type to strategies that concentrate on product and service quality in order to increase customer satisfaction by constantly improving the production processes, and strategies of organisational flexibility, which tend to adapt constantly to the diversity and specificity of the needs of the market. On the other hand, the second type can be connected to strategies of numerical flexibility, which are intended to deal with sudden variations in demand by resorting to using temporary staff (temporary workers, fixed-term contracts) and avoiding committing to a structural increase in wage costs. Change of strategy at Comptapro Comptapro is a division of the consulting agency ProConsult, based in Luxembourg. Its main activity is the provision of accounting and financial services to banking and investment establishments. The Luxembourg employment market is characterised by a very severe shortage of labour. This, combined with intense peaks of recurring activity (at the end of every month in particular), leads to excess workloads and administrative delays at banking establishments. One of the directors of ProConsult, keen to quickly develop a profitable business, decided to exploit this niche by creating Comptapro. The company was soon a runaway success: its staff count rose from 10 to 125 people in three years. Comptapro offers accountancy and/or administrative support services to companies on the Luxembourg financial marketplace. The company mainly takes on missions in the areas of general or specific accountancy, back office, securities management and reporting. Exceptionally, it also takes on interim management missions. This fairly specialised niche business concerns a large number of customers, whose needs are quite easy to anticipate in terms of their nature and evolution. For most of the missions that are entrusted to them, Comptapros employees were meant to apply the knowledge acquired during their accountancy training. Nonetheless, the method of executing tasks was explained in detail in the contract signed by each customer and the senior staff member in charge of the mission. Paradoxically, while demanding skilled staff, most customers acknowledged that they mainly entrusted Comptapro employees with missions that they described as administrative or repetitive. Many Comptapro employees said that they did not put their initial training to use much during their missions.


In general, the staff turnover rate at Comptapro was 35-40% per year. Departures were mainly due to employees joining the customers organisation, where they found better salary conditions and real career opportunities. The situation was not experienced as a negative thing by the current manager of Comptapro, as the company took a large intermediary commission, which considerably increased its profits. It could also be seen as a sign of customer satisfaction, again according to the manager. However, the founder of Comptapro judged that the high staff turnover risked having an adverse effect in the medium and long term. At that point, Comptapro was no longer the only company to provide administrative and accounting support to the world of banking: other large consulting groups, who had spotted the same market opportunities, were also starting to offer this type of service alongside their consulting activities. According to the founder, a fall in activity could be anticipated, and the first effects of this were already starting to be felt. The need to stand out from the competition by using a more skilled workforce, involved in more complex missions and providing more added value, was more and more perceptible. The manager was very sceptical about such an approach. For him, Comptapros niche business still had a great future, given the steady growth in the number of customers, which showed how the company was responding to a real need. The crisis that affected the whole sector after the attacks of 11 September 2001 and the bursting of the Internet bubble would bring things to a head and enable the founder of Comptapro to win the argument. A drastic company plan was negotiated, involving making a third of all staff redundant. Under these conditions, the manager also handed in his resignation and ended up starting a competing company, based on the economic model in which he believed, i.e. support missions for third parties. The company was taken over directly by the founder. It now only recruits young graduates, and develops highly profitable missions with high added value. In the meantime, the number of employees fell considerably, to around 70 people. A truly personalised competence management structure was put in place, under the leadership of an HR manager. Correlatively, the staff turnover rate dropped sharply and the company was integrated more and more clearly into the general strategy of ProConsult, becoming one of its operational units. Comptapros initial strategy was clearly aimed at numerical flexibility: it offered customers from the banking world the option to deal with peaks of activity without having to hire new staff. The high turnover of staff, who were finally lured away by customers, did not worry them as long as the market was growing and Comptapro benefitted from a niche effect. A few years later, the situation had changed: other competitors appeared on the same market, which was an argument in favour of a strategic change of course. The founder of Comptapro then intended to practise a differentiation strategy by focussing on a quality service offer with high added value, but he came up against opposition from the manager, who wanted to maintain the old strategy, which he still felt was relevant. A change of context would enable him to impose his own strategic vision. Incidentally, we should note that such a change of strategy was accompanied by a change in human resource management; in other words, a certain coherence seemed to be emerge between the new strategic orientation and the adoption of an HRM policy focussing on skills development.


1.1.4. Change of HRM policy While the change process concerns human resource management practices and policy, it can be approached using a series of distinctions proposed by the literature: between traditional and innovative activities (Arthur, 1994; MacDuffie, 1995; Dyer & Reeves, 1995), or between practices limited to staff administration and practices focussing on human resource development (Warnotte, 1997). The former favour a collective vision of the working relationship, based on respect for rules and contracts. The latter develop a more individualistic concept of the working relationship, based on valuing the skills of each employee.
Table 3: The distinction between staff administration/human resource development STAFF ADMINISTRATION Focus on management of the employment contract Primacy of rules, procedures, collective agreements Priority customers: unions, staff High staff numbers Predominance of formal places of cooperation Principle of internal equity HR DEVELOPMENT Focus on skills management Primacy of tailor-made itineraries Priority customers: general management, hierarchy Reduced staff numbers Predominance of project management Principle of external equity

Another famous distinction is the one between hard and soft HRM models (Storey, 1987; Truss et al., 1997). The first model insists on the close integration of HRM policies and practices into the business strategy. From this viewpoint, the internal consistence of the practices and their coherence with strategic objectives are presented as the keys to success in terms of organisational performance. It is logical that in such a model, the person appears as a resource whose contributions are being optimised in a planned manner. This model is also characterised by the predominance of quantitative tools (staff count planning, evaluation charts with scoring, salary benchmarking, etc.). The second model, while continuing to place the emphasis on integration into the business strategy, underlines the importance of the human component i.e. staff involvement, valuing their skills, their participation in organisational choices, their motivation and communication with them in improving company performance. Several attempts have also been made with a view to offering a more precise ideal-typical framework, combining the HRM models with the organisational configurations described above (Begin, 1993; Pichault and Nizet, 2000). We can also discern an arbitrary HRM model, characterised by the discretionary power of a leader in the absence of any explicit criteria in this area; an objectivising model, where uniform criteria are defined for all staff members or divided into broad categories; an individualising model, where criteria are negotiated between each employee and their line manager; a conventionalist model, where criteria are the subject of debates between peers, and a value-based model, where criteria are once more implicit, but this time refer to the organisations fundamental values.
Table 4: HRM models HRM

ARBITRARY OBJECTIVISING little planning anticipatory management of

INDIVIDUALISING anticipatory management of

CONVENTIONNALIST collegial validation

VALUE-BASED selection based on


(JOINERS) dismissals on the spot


staff numbers, importance of recruitment social plans, early retirement,


on the job, internships

highly institutionalised, focussed on skill and the short term permanent, standardised criteria (rating scale) impersonal (based on seniority) determined a priori (job description or classification of functions) uniform and regulated


informal, intervention in private life intuitive appraisals on a random task basis, differences hard to justify no differentiation between working time/free time non-existent

skills, importance of selection outplacement, spinning off, redeployment, redeployment actions, etc. highly institutionalised, focussed on interpersonal skills and the long term a posteriori, negotiated criteria (MBO) based on merit or performance variable part determined a posteriori (performance)

rare, under peer pressure

managed by professionals

socialisatio n to the mission exclusions caused by failure to conform to the values collective internalisation of values

peer recognition

tacit and consensual


by elections (mandates) determined a priori + permission to work externally

based on loyalism displayed question not really legitimate in relation to the pursuit of values no differentiation between working time/free time non-existent (often avoided)



adapted (flexible beyond hours) institutional control


principle of representation

principle of principle of direct expression professional defence (based on Pichault and Nizet, 2000)

We therefore have several useful typologies to characterise changes initiated in the area of HRM. However, these changes can also concern the personnel department itself, by leading it to fulfil different roles. The famous model by Ulrich (1997) thus proposes four main roles which may be assigned to the HR function: the administrative expert (thorough command of company legislation, regulations and pay regimes), the employee champion (spends a lot of time listening to employees and their representatives, in negotiations, etc.), the change agent (in charge of steering the main organisational projects, not necessarily HRM) and the strategic partner (legitimate point of contact with the other directors, takes part in developing the business strategy, demonstrates the added value of their actions using dashboards, etc.). These four types of missions in an HR department can be represented in a diagram based on two axes: the first distinguishes more process-focussed HR missions from ones which are more people-focussed. The second traces a demarcation line between missions oriented towards everyday management and those oriented towards achieving more long-term strategic objectives.


Figure 1 Typology of roles for the HR department Figure 1: Typologies of roles in the HRD

The transformation of HRM at the Paturabel company Founded in 1935, the Paturabel company started as a family-run dairy butter trading business. In the early 60s, its founder became aware of the possible boom in this new product, and decided to commit himself to developing the Anhydrous Milk Fat sector, which enabled him to conquer the European market and set up production and sales units all over Europe. From 1985 onwards, the company produced and sold a complete range of products tailored to the tastes and needs of the end user (light butter, butter low in cholesterol, etc.). A family business since its foundation, the company soon became a division of the French group, Union Beurrire. The business currently has a staff count of just under 400 people. A function classification system has existed for factory workers at Paturabel for some ten years. The introduction of this system required a careful analysis of the various positions. This was not achieved without clashes: in response to union demands, some functions were re-evaluated and thus obtained the same classification as the foreman functions without requiring the same degree of versatility. Other adjustments were made at the margins as time went by, which later gave rise to a feeling of discontent among the factory workers, who felt that this classification system was no longer relevant, that it had not taken account of technological changes and that it no longer reflected the degree of technical complexity of the various functions concerned. The workers pay was calculated on the basis of an hourly salary set by the function classification system. Moreover, certain positions benefitted from the allocation of a variable bonus, in principle calculated according to the level of production achieved by the operator. Some workers complained of the lack of transparency in the rules used to calculate these bonuses. They also questioned the variable aspect of these bonuses: they had more in common with a top-up payment granted to some operators rather than a real productivity bonus. Most training organised at Paturabel was designed to help staff learn the job. Training took place on the job, according to the workload and availability of each person. In fact, it was only when a production line broke down or functioned at a reduced pace that the operators

(based on Ulrich, 1997)


and labourers usually assigned to this line would have the possibility to accompany the operator of another line, for half a day or a whole day, and observe their methods of work in order to learn the operations to be performed. At Paturabel there was no official evaluation procedure for factory workers. Individual interviews had been introduced once a year, in order to set out each persons objectives. However, they were soon abandoned as they seldom had any effect. The former management team, certain members of which have remained in place, attempted to maintain the current HRM model at all costs, convinced that it guaranteed peace within the company. The union representatives lobbied for greater clarity in the rules of the game, and in particular for a standardisation of HRM practices within the company. In this area, they were joined by the dynamic production manager, who could not tolerate the current indeterminacy of staff-related policies. The managing director, a graduate of a Parisian Grande Ecole of management, who was appointed by the French shareholders, as well as the young human resources director, who wanted to join the management committee soon, had a quite different view of the situation. Keen to put in place a modern HRM system in this traditional company, in order to deal with the quality and flexibility challenges that awaited it, the HRD organised many seminars presented by external consultants on the subject of participative management, corporate culture, skills management, etc. His first major project consisted of putting in place a flexible working time system, which would be negotiated between each worker and their team manager. Until now, despite its structural changes and certain initiatives in the direction of the objectivising model (classification of functions), this company had remained largely dominated by an arbitrary HRM model (on-the-job training, unjustified salary differences, lack of formal evaluation, etc.). The whole issue consists of agreeing on the target towards which the HRM system should evolve: the unions and the production manager argued in favour of setting up an objectivising model, while the new managing director and the young human resources director, keen to position himself as a change agent, wanted to introduce an individualising model, which they felt was better suited to the companys future situation. Here we see the benefit of working to produce a precise description of the change in question, which makes it possible to ensure that there is a sufficient level of consensus on the project itself.

1.1.5. Technological change The technological variable has been the subject of many studies that enable us to categorise the various modalities. Historically, works have concentrated first and foremost on industrial production technologies. We can thus refer to the famous distinction formulated by Woodward (1965), relating to the manufacturing industries. Based on the technical specificities of their production process, Woodward classifies the firms she has observed into three main categories: firms with unit-based production technology (production by the unit, in short runs


according to specific orders, making a prototype, making heavy equipment); firms with mass production technology (large-scale production, especially on an assembly line); firms with continuous production technology (process automation, such as can be observed in the area of chemistry, energy, glass, etc.).

Woodward notes that specific organisational forms correspond to each of these technological variables. Thus, with unit-based production technologies, human intervention remains quite high, as the work is mostly organised into small teams, who proceed by mutual adjustment and/or direct supervision. Here, the organisational structure tends to be very flexible. With mass production technologies, human intervention is reduced to fragmented, repetitive tasks (high level of vertical and horizontal division, standardisation of procedures) and team size increases considerably. The machine structure is the most common here. With continuous technologies, human intervention is virtually removed: operators are confined to process monitoring tasks and must only intervene in the event of difficulties. The most commonly used coordination mechanisms are standardisation of qualifications and mutual adjustment. Unit size at the first level of supervision is once more reduced, as a small number of operators are now able to monitor the whole production process, thanks to an advanced degree of automation. The organisational structure is flexible, with growing interpenetration between operational positions and functional positions. Some evolutions may of course be observed among these various categories: a unit-based technology can be progressively replaced by a mass technology, a continuous technology can be complemented by a unit-based technology, etc. While the change process is more relevant to information systems, we once more have a wide range of typologies to describe. We can therefore make use of the distinction proposed by Castells (1999) between four main types of architecture: centralised, scattered or deconcentrated, integrated and open, based on their strictly technical characteristics and the organisational modalities that are usually associated with them3. These architectures may be presented as so many logical stages of a single evolution process, even though in reality they may interpenetrate each other to a large extent. Many works have been able to demonstrate that the development of computing has greatly favoured the introduction, in the administrative sphere, of a method of work organisation that had already proven itself effective in the industrial sector: taylorism. In addition, most of these works (Ball and Peaucelle, 1972; Jamous and Grmion, 1978; Pastr, 1983; Pav, 1989) have placed the emphasis on the excesses of technocratic and hyperfunctionalist computing systems. The introduction of computing in the administrative sector corresponds to a phase of centralisation of cyclical or repetitive activities: accounting, management, pay.
3Elsewhere (Pichault, 1990, pp. 75-97) we find a more detailed description of the first three stages, described as moments in the computerisation process.


By definition, these are discontinuous, however, once they are centralised, they reach such a volume that their discontinuity disappears, at least formally. They can then be broken down into a continuous flow. Moreover, as the cycles are different and complementary (week, fortnight, month, quarter, year), their centralisation enables them to distribute the workload more evenly and optimise the occupation of the agents. Centralisation requires equipment that is capable of treating a large quantity of information in a minimum amount of time. Centralisation has plenty of adverse effects: technical vulnerability (sensitivity to breakdowns), vulnerability of the company (a handful of operators can completely paralyse the whole organisation), rigidity and failure to adapt to the diverse demands of the context, etc. Another stage emerges at the opposite end of the spectrum from the taylorian diagram: this is the deconcentration stage. The initiation of such a movement is based on technological progress (widespread use of micro-electronics applications, miniaturisation of equipment, simplification of software), and on the considerable drop in the cost of components. The new computing solutions no longer necessarily involve centralising processing. More and more diversified applications are being created, which are better adapted to the multiplicity of local situations: word processing, processing statistics and graphics, local file management, document databases, etc. They represent a shift away from the field of strictly cyclical activities and are also more user-friendly. A similar movement can be observed in the field of the organisation of work, with attempts to expand and enrich tasks on the local level, the formation of semi-autonomous teams, increasing responsibility given to the worker, etc. This is described as the Scandinavian model of work organisation. This can also have its fair share of adverse effects, in particular in a form that computer scientists describe as computing anarchy: many organisations see a proliferation of initiatives, each unit is equipped with its own hardware, acquires its own software and increases the amount of effort made. All the conditions are there to reach a third stage, known as the integration stage. On the one hand, there will be increasing emphasis on compatibility between equipment, pooling of knowledge (shared databases, etc.), integration of applications (ERP-type software packages), PC networking (local networks, intranet). On the other hand, the new forms of work organisation will increasingly promote corporate culture, total quality and versatility: these are all means, inspired by the Japanese model of work organisation, to bring the various units out of their isolation, to try to make them share in the companys overall objectives (customer satisfaction, fundamental values or the pursuit of a mission). However, alongside this, the rapid development of the Internet is making the borders of the organisation more and more porous, making it difficult to identify one single organisational group. This then paves the way for a fourth stage, which can be described as the opening stage. The applications that are developed are still aimed at integration but now connect several entities (EDI, extranet, electronic commerce, CRM, etc.) or allow remote forms of cooperative work (virtual platform, groupware, etc.). On the managerial level, attention is increasingly focussed on redefining the borders of the company, with the success of concepts such as the virtual business or networked business, as well as the appearance of new institutional arrangements between economic agents supported by information networks (Malone et al., 1987). The term Californian model is used with reference to the media coverage enjoyed by companies in Silicon Valley who take this approach.


Table 5: Types of information system architecture 1. Centralisation Central unit with centralised data entry pool or distributed terminals 2. Deconcentration 3. Integration 4. Opening EDI, Extranet, electronic commerce, CRM, virtual platforms, groupware

Increased number of local Local networks, intranet, applications for PC, shared databases, ERP compatibility problems

Migration of information systems at the university hospital This hospital is very closely linked to a large university training centre. Its facilities, which are used for teaching, research and practical hospital experience, are technologically very advanced. The hospital is subdivided into forty different departments, all very specialised, several having acquired an international reputation. Each department enjoys a high level of autonomy in terms of management, and is placed under the authority of a specialist professor. Little by little, the different departments acquired their own computer hardware. Initially it was certain doctors who acquired new equipment, convinced of their scientific possibilities (statistical calculations on the occurrence of certain diseases, diagnostic assistance, medical research, etc.) Soon, others imitated them, less out of conviction than out of the wish to avoid falling behind. Finally, in a totally independent and uncoordinated way, over 29 departments ended up developing specific applications for patient admission and medical and administrative follow-up, as well as management of analytical laboratories, medical instrumentation and scientific research. These applications were installed on several dozens of servers and PCs, all of different brands and incompatible with each other! No standardised system of registration, admittance or invoicing could be developed: in the case of one patient going from one department to another, the whole identification process had to be started again at each stage. In addition, many recoveries or duplications appeared from one application to another, noticeably in the administrative domain. Faced with this situation, and under pressure from the board of governors, the hospitals administrative officers called on the services of a consultant. Very soon, the latter produced a report emphasising the extent to which the computerisation of the various services was often the business of one man, the head of the department, who was responsible for managing the system, with no coordination at the level of the hospital as a whole. In a way, each person acted as a maverick. The consultant recommended changing to a common system, which would put an end to the current situation. The hospital management team decided to acquire a single system, taking advantage of the hospitals relocation to another site. The system architecture consists of a central server, managed by an external service provider, connected to PC clusters (of 2 to 5 PCs depending on the size of the department) which can share a certain number of local applications (word processing, diary management, management of special departmental files, etc.). On the other hand, patient records management (computerised medical records), invoicing procedures and staff administration are now hosted on a central server.


In this case, the change of information system may be characterised by a move from the deconcentrated stage (anarchic juxtaposition of multiple applications) to the integrated stage (interconnected PC clusters on a server, with shared applications and differentiated hosting solutions: local for some applications, central for others).

1.1.6. On the use of ideal types Let it be understood: here we are arguing in favour of a heuristic use of ideal types, which have the potential to help us specify the nature of the changes under way, without necessarily subscribing to the implicit theories that underpin them. We can thus characterise a change process by showing that it consists of moving from an entrepreneurial configuration to a machine configuration, that it is based more on an attempt to individualise HRM; that it reflects an evolution of strategy towards greater flexibility, etc. The use of ideal types is less useful for what it is intended to explain than for its contribution first to a reading, then to a possible transformation of the positions held by the various actors. Insofar as this reading is worked on collectively, it becomes a key element of change in itself. The qualification of the purpose of change constitutes a key aspect of change management, as we shall see. All too often, this stage is considered as self-evident, and no collective work is carried out on the subject. This is precisely why we are arguing in favour of using ideal types, which make it possible to clarify the final aims or at least the direction of change.


The adoption of a shared language in a changing industrial company This company, a producer of special alloys for the cement industry, experienced a long period of growth, marked by successive buyouts throughout the world, and the acquisition of a leadership position on its market, under the guidance of a charismatic managing director. In the early 90s, it undertook a major restructuring programme, following an audit that concluded that its products were excellent but that its factory prices were totally uncompetitive. Although it was agreed that the company should continue with the quality strategy that had prevailed until that point, the Management Committee simultaneously adopted a cost leadership strategy, which amongst other things led to the professionalization of human resource management in the group. It seemed that the recently appointed HRD hesitated on what path to take. As the company had been managed in a family-run, paternalist way for a long time, should he favour the introduction of a structured HRM model, based on standardised instruments such as job descriptions or salary scales, or should the company evolve towards a progressive individualisation of its tools? After being called on by the companys HRD to conduct a survey of the organisational climate among its senior executives, we arranged to present the HR committee, made up of the groups main managers in the area of human resource management, with a theoretical paper setting out the different types of HRM models. Our aim was therefore to provide help with decisionmaking, by delivering an intermediary product that clearly identified the main terms of the choice to be made. Several group meetings were necessary to reach an agreement on the orientations that the company should favour: the company finally chose to favour the individualising model, with a few concessions to the objectivising model. It was only on the basis of this enlightened collective choice that we were able to ascertain the very purpose of the change. The main players in the HR function now have access to a common framework for engaging and evaluating the actions that are carried out. The example we have just described shows how the ideal types can be used in a concrete way as part of a change process. Ideal-typical constructions appear first as a way for the various protagonists to adopt a common language with a view to decoding the present situation. This collective decoding process makes it possible for people to accept positions which until that point have been considered extreme or unacceptable, by reconstituting their underlying rationality. Once this decoding work is done, it is easier to consent to an investment in this or that solution, whose fundamental principles now appear more legitimate because they are interpreted communally. Ideal-typical constructions thus become a plausible basis for negotiation on which compromises can be reached, and change projects can be defined, where applicable. We should stress that in our opinion, this recourse to ideal types is valid in the case of scheduled changes as well as changes induced by internal and/or external processes. In the latter case, it makes it possible to qualify the changes that are observed and/or felt more clearly.


1.2. The scale of change Still taking a descriptive approach, it is also helpful to specify the levels at which the change process is situated; in other words, to determine its potential scale. Various criteria may be chosen in this area: the significance of the changes consequences for the organisation, the hierarchical levels where the change originates, or the duration of the change. On this basis, the change process may be situated at three different levels: the strategic level, where the major orientations that fundamentally mark the life of the organisation are defined (the nature of its activities, its objectives, its target audience, how it is structured internally, etc.); the managerial level (or coordination level), where new orientations can be formed in terms of resource allocation, staff management, procedures to follow, ways of performing controls on the work that has been done, etc.; the operative level, where changes may affect the concrete modes of functioning that mark the organisations daily life.

In principle, a process of strategic change will have effects on other levels, but in some cases it may only affect them in a very marginal way. On the other hand, such a process may be launched at the managerial level (introduction of new accounting software) or at the operative level (improvement of certain working procedures), without affecting the strategic level. From the outset it is important to locate the level where the anticipated change is to be situated. In this respect, the current tendency to present all changes in the strategic mode is worrying: it creates expectations that cannot be fulfilled and is potentially a source of frustration. It seems preferable to clarify the scale of the anticipated change from the outset, in order to create realistic expectations about it, even if this means readjusting our aims along the way, according to interrelations observed in concrete terms. Such an effort also makes it easier to determine the priority choices to be made and the support measures to be taken, given that change rarely takes place in isolation and often overlaps with other changes on a different scale. Towards total quality at an industrial company undergoing restructuring Glassor is a glass production company and a subsidiary of a multinational. It has been based in the region in question for several years. The workforce is relatively old, with a high degree of seniority, and the degree of qualification is quite low among the operators (a significant proportion of them are illiterate). During the 80s, the manufacturing process was entirely automated, increasingly reducing operator intervention to the role of monitoring and intervention in the case of problems (breakdown, glass plate breaking, abnormal furnace or tin bath temperatures, etc.).


This automation obviously translated into severe staff cuts particularly among unskilled workers and an intense policy of professional redeployment. The new work organisation made room for operator autonomy in the area of decision-making: when a problem occurred on the production line, it was down to the operator to take all the necessary initiatives. Mutual adjustment mechanisms were thus put in place an operator performed the required intervention while the other momentarily replaced their colleague, as well as carrying out their own monitoring tasks that clearly indicated a tendency towards increased staff versatility. Nonetheless, for safety reasons in particular, operators had to continue to carefully follow a certain number of procedures, set out in the folders that were always available to them. The positions remained highly specialised and hinged around the various technical phases of production: composition (mixing of raw materials for manufacturing), furnace, float (forming of the continuous glass plate upon removal from the furnace), lehr (glass cooling), cutting, transport and warehouse storage, and delivery. Following this major change, a new director was appointed by the Paris head office: in particular he was charged with promoting a total quality programme at Glassor, with a view to obtaining ISO 9002 certification, which has become an essential standard in the sector. Cross-functional groups were therefore created, where certain executives were assigned new functions relating to the quality programme. Thus, a safety department executive was made responsible for quality information/communication policies: he was responsible in particular for setting up quality information corners in the various departments of the factory, as well as organising staff information sessions about the instructions to follow and the previous months performance (number of customer complaints, etc.). Ideally, such sessions were meant to lead to exchanges where everyone could have their say. As the manufacturing director pointed out, If people learn to express themselves, put forward suggestions and give their viewpoint, this helps to improve the quality of our products, strengthen the companys brand image, and without fail this is reflected in our customer relations. Two department heads set the pace for this new approach and invested personally in putting together attractive quality corners, where they would regularly gather their employees together. However, most department managers were not very enthusiastic about changing the way they related with their team, in a context that despite everything remained very hierarchical and where there was little room for autonomy. The operators seldom showed any interest in an approach that above all seemed to contribute towards increasing their daily workload. Such a situation also led the quality communication manager to require that at least one hour-long meeting be held every month, with compulsory written minutes to check the extent to which everyone was participating. Paradoxically, this requirement to communicate, which has resulted in new procedures being put in place, is more in keeping with a traditional HRM model. This model is in fact implicitly supported by management (even though the official discourse speaks of encouraging initiative-taking and greater responsibility for staff) and perpetuated by the executives, who have been redeployed as quality managers against their wishes. It is also worth noting that while the introduction of the total quality programme was in principle meant to favour informal, collegial, ascending and lateral communication


flows, it is in fact the formal, tightly codified flows that are observed the most often. Thus, when a problem is spotted on the production line, the operator is invited to fill in a form called an error cause removal request. If this turns out to be quite a large-scale problem, and its solution involves the intervention of several departments, the form becomes a corrective action request: this is normally meant to lead to the creation of an interdepartmental group with a view to solving the problem posed. In this company, the introduction of total quality obviously corresponds to a change of managerial type, designed to stabilise the gains of the previous restructuring programme. Although total quality is often presented as a strategic change, we should note that the actions encouraged by the new management team (quality information corners, compulsory meetings, problem-solving groups, etc.) have more to do with HRM systems and concrete procedures to follow than with major reorientations in the life of the organisation. In reality, in this particular case the strategic change was process automation. As for total quality, in management terms it follows on from this major organisational restructuring programme. If the change is at the strategic level, there is a good chance that it will concern the whole scope of the organisation, at least where the organisation has clearly identified borders, within which the managers may react to the vagaries of the change process and take the appropriate initiatives. If it is at another level, its scale will undoubtedly be limited to part of the organisation: units, business areas, specific staff categories, etc. It is obviously a very different question when the change is taking place in a more open context, where classic organisational borders are removed and the company predominantly functions as a network, based on the implementation of interorganisational partnerships. Under these conditions, we should consider the possibility that any group of actors may succeed in carrying out actions that are likely to influence the course of change. Interesting typologies, like those of Heitz (2000) or Rorive (2005), can once more shed light on our reflection. In the case of networks marked by a high level of asymmetry in the power relationships between ordering parties and suppliers, the question of scope, while now encompassing several organisations, may be considered in similar terms to a traditional organisation: the change initiated by the ordering party may be at the strategic level and thus be likely to concern the whole envelope formed by the different entities in the network; or it can be situated at other levels (managerial, operative) and be limited to just some of these entities. Here, without too much difficulty, we can use the descriptive categories mentioned in the previous sections to describe the issue of change management, whether it is an emergent or deliberate process. The problem becomes more complex in cases where there is greater symmetry in the power relationships between stakeholders in the network. Momentary forms of association between companies (the confederate network in Rorive, 2005) and the assembly of various specialisations by a single coordinator (the pivot firm or broker in Miles & Snow, 1986; the nucleic network in Rorive, 2005) lead to the emergence of looser change processes, whose origins and key players cannot be clearly situated. The very concept of change management probably begins to fade away in such cases


1.3. The question of temporalities If we do indeed accept that contemporary organisations are constantly changing, when can we say that a change process is triggered and from what point can we assert that it produces certain results? We propose to deal with this question by recognising from the outset that we do not have any objective criteria at our disposal in this area: it is more a case of basing ourselves on players representations of the key moments in the process. At the methodological level, a few accounts from different parties will generally suffice to situate the pre-change, i.e. the period during which the early warning signs build up: preliminary reform projects, increase in the number of local initiatives, metamorphosis of certain business partners, regulatory changes, etc. This period will be distinguished by the beginning of the change per se, which is usually signalled by a key event to which most of the players refer. Next comes the question of the different stages in the process. Certain stages may seem central to the management team (appointment of a new managing director, change of shareholders, adoption of a strategic plan, etc.) yet these may not necessarily be the moments that appear decisive to the employees. The latter experience a psychological transition process at the end of which they can more or less deal with the new situation. Bridges (1991) identifies three main phases in this respect: the first is marked by a feeling of loss in relation to the past, the second becomes a neutral area between the former reality which has now gone and the new reality that is being born, and the third constitutes a new beginning. Thus, a strategic plan will only really become tangible for employees when they are directly confronted with its consequences (redundancies, relocation to a new site, etc.): only then will the initial loss stage begin for them, whereas in the eyes of the management team, the change started a while back. It is essential to distinguish between these two types of temporality as they each correspond to distinct fragments of the same reality. It is a case of not being trapped in a temporal vision of just one part, but integrating the important subjective stages for each of them into change management. Later on we will see that managers interventions may be modulated according to the phases of psychological transition experienced by the employees: the initial loss which first and foremost requires listening and empathy; entrance into the neutral area, requiring more reframing actions; the new beginning involving efforts to provide support, stimulation and clarification (Nizet & Huybrechts, 1998, pp.120-123). Finally there is the question of when the process will end: we believe that this must be a matter of methodological decision, or of opportunity. Most of the time, the manager, advisor-analyst or assessor will agree to set an end date at a given time, after a certain period has passed, while acknowledging that the process inexorably pursues its course at different levels. The period in question must be long enough to give oneself the chance to observe the anticipated effects of the change and evaluate them, even if they do not always happen as planned. However, it cannot extend indefinitely, or there is a risk that the change under analysis will be diluted by other simultaneously occurring processes, and it will no longer be possible to tell the effects of the former from those of the latter. Moreover, this question leads us to the problem of multi-temporality that characterises all change processes. As we have already stressed, while the process which was initially under consideration continues to unfold, other events inevitably interfere with it. The change per se therefore takes shape in a constantly remodelled connection with these multiple temporalities.


What should we remember from this chapter? During this chapter, we have stressed how diverse the purposes of change can be. The analysts first task will therefore be to identify its aim: is it a change in the way the organisation works, its culture, business strategy, HRM policy, production technologies or information system? We have demonstrated the usefulness of ideal types with regard to this. They can be helpful tools for description as well as for creating a shared meaning around the change process. Change can be situated at different levels: strategic, managerial and/or operative. It can take place within the confines of an organisational group or as part of an interorganisational partnership. Any clarification of this subject can help us to remove any ambiguities about the process under way and locate the actions to be initiated in a judicious way. Finally, we must specify the temporal boundaries of the change that we are observing: start of the process, key stages, etc. We have insisted on the fact that it is important to take account of the representations of the various players concerned, not just the management team. The question of its end date is a matter of methodological decision: however, a long enough period should be allowed to pass so that the process can be analysed and, if applicable, evaluated.


2. A PROCESS TO BE EXPLAINED: THE DOMINANT APPROACHAND THE OTHERS In this chapter you will find: - an introductory case study demonstrating the complementary character of the various explanatory approaches, detailed below; - a systematic presentation of the five main explanatory approaches to change (planningbased, political, incremental, contingent and interpretativist approaches); - a reflection on the interrelations between the conceptual categories used to describe change (chapter 1) and explain it (chapter 2; - an integration of the various explanatory approaches into a five forces model, which will become the main thread of this work. Once it has been systematically described, the change process must be decoded using various explanatory approaches. Each of these can be applied to give an account of changes that have been observed in concrete terms, referring back to inevitably different conceptions of the ongoing transformations. They are not just a matter for analysts who attempt to model the change process but, by virtue of their capacity to shed light on a multi-faceted reality, can also become frames of reference for managerial action, promoted by management schools, consultants, and all kinds of publications. As a consequence, these approaches are both analytical tools that inspire diverse research practices in terms of methods as well as tools, and world views that are likely to structure the actions and positions of the various actors concerned by the change. As an introduction to the reflection, below is a case study of change at a telecommunications company, which will serve as an illustration for this whole chapter. Brief history of an anticipated change In less than 10 years, the COM 2010 company, one of the European public sector telecommunications operators, has made radical changes to its operating method. These changes were preceded by various reform projects during the previous 30 years, with relatively limited results. The business was hit hard by a big financial scandal a few years before, which involved its managing director and led to an excessive formalisation of control procedures. Various local initiatives were put in place as time went by, on an informal basis, to streamline the functioning of the structure (decentralisation of certain branches, beginning of customer segmentation and adaptation of the pricing policy, etc.). The current reform is clearly part of the general trend among European public sector operators following the privatisation of British Telecom and the publication of the Green Paper on Telecommunications by the European Commission. However, the main factor that prompted the changes at COM 2010 was the introduction of a law on public sector companies, the most important elements of which were the distinction between operational functions and regulatory functions, the signing of a management agreement and a business plan including a new statute for staff. It represented a shift from functioning as a conventional administration, heavily influenced by its structural legacy (the company was


founded in the 30s) and by its monopolistic position, to functioning as an autonomous public sector company, in competition with other operators. Most of the staff seem to agree that this reform was necessary and useful. The main arguments were over the importance of benefiting from more autonomy to be able to react quickly to European and international competition. We should also note that the unions hoped for an improvement in staff management and greater independence from the political powers (recruitment, public sector orders, etc.). Everyone agrees on the drawbacks of the old structure: bureaucratic complexity linked to following the rules to the letter; few possibilities for employees to take the initiative and therefore little interest in customer needs; excessive centralisation of decision-making (structuring by main technical functions), in spite of its territorial organisation being decentralised into different areas; dominance of technical concerns with a lack of concern for sales, etc. A management agreement was soon signed, creating the autonomous public sector company COM 2010, and a new staff statute was put together and negotiated with the unions. In terms of internal skills, until that point the telecommunications operator was characterised by a pyramid-shaped qualification structure, with most staff having few qualifications (over nine-tenths), and a contrasting shortage of highly skilled staff. Following the change of company statute, the new management team launched an in-depth redefinition of its qualifications structure, with a view to reducing the proportion of staff in the less skilled categories, and reinforcing the top of the pyramid by hiring university graduates as contract employees and following an intensive skills development policy. A substantial part of the operation involved the departments which, for over 60 years, had carried out earthworks and laid the cables that connected telephone network subscribers. Until that point, the staff employed to do this were assumed to belong to the companys operational centre, with no further discussion. The management team, however, deemed that these were no longer core missions and announced its intention to outsource them, faced with a new global competitive environment that required it to focus its efforts on providing quality telecommunications services. Despite furious reactions from the staff concerned, it stressed the fact that the service offer was increasing exponentially, with technologies evolving at a fast pace: it was therefore not the time to be dispersing its efforts in peripheral activities. However, the overall outlook after COM 2010s first ?? of existence remained rather gloomy: the silo structure still predominated, decision-making remained excessively centralised, and the increasing number of procedures to follow extinguished any vague attempt at customer-oriented initiatives. During this period, the only things to be systematised were Business Theatre type training operations (a series of sketches parodying the old behaviours now to be rejected and holding up the new behaviours as examples, shown to all the employees in a conference room). These were supported by a large-scale internal and external communication programme: company newsletters showing the companys new logo, newsflashes, magazines with information for customers, heavily publicised visits by the managing director to the different areas, festive events during which the key messages were delivered by management to all the staff, prestige operations (sponsorship, receptions, etc.), a move to new, luxurious buildings to make a clean break from the old-fashioned style of the old infrastructures, etc.


However, these initiatives, put together by veritable battalions of consultants, remained essentially top-down in nature. Moreover, they developed in a context of fierce conflict between the management organs of the new company (Board of Directors and Management Committee), as the regulatory framework was sorely lacking in precision on the subject of how competences should be shared between them. These conflicts accentuated the feeling of a gap between the lower ranks and the people at the top, especially following several revelations about the princely lifestyle of the management team. A considerable proportion of staff at the bottom believed that the real problems that is, strengthening the operators competitive position, the structural reforms and the imprecisions of the new staff statute had not been dealt with or even considered. They also did not respond well to the declarations made by the Chairman of the Board of Directors in a public address, where he pointed to the lack of qualifications among staff as the cause of COM 2010s uncompetitive situation. The staff felt that they were being held responsible for the companys difficulties in adapting, whereas they felt that these problems were linked to the burden of supervision and politics, the negligence of the managerial team, and above all the failure to question the bureaucratic operating method that prevailed. Following a governmental reshuffle, a new supervising minister came into power with the intention of cleaning up, to ensure that what he called the strategic consolidation of the operator in other words, partial privatisation would take place. The former management team (Management Committee and Board of Directors) was dismissed and a new managing director was appointed, with the mission of tackling the necessary structural reforms as soon as possible. The big media campaigns became rarer and the emphasis moved to redefining concrete working methods, the new departmentalisation (business units constituted according to customer and market types), and HRM policy (massive hiring of contract employees for the new sales department, more highly skilled in the areas of management and marketing, etc.). The management agreement and the business plan turned out to be the ideal instruments for the desired transformation, with quantitative objectives to achieve in the short, medium and long term. These would quickly produce tangible results, especially as part of the LAST project (reducing the time taken to connect to the telephone network). These results were achieved through a real reengineering of the sales, technical and administrative processes concerned. Everyone agrees that the changes at COM 2010 are now entering a new phase. The partial privatisation of COM 2010 has been finalised, with several foreign companies acquiring a stake in the operator, including North American and Asian firms. The stakes are high as it is a question of helping to offset public sector budget deficits by selling highly profitable assets, as is the case in most western countries. The unions might have been expected to put up fierce opposition to these changes. However, the very powerful social partners seem to have played the cooperation card rather than the conflict card, from the start of the reform. Given the potential profitability of a company in a growing sector, they deemed that the change would be beneficial for staff, especially with regard to the salary benefits and promotion opportunities offered by the new staff statute. Such a climate of cooperation has done nothing to bridge the growing gap between the new management team and the rest of the organisation, and the emerging tensions between the new skilled professionals salespeople and consultants who often benefit from special salary conditions and the professions that have dominated until now (technicians and administrative staff) and are now increasingly under threat. This tension was palpable following the launch of a big plan to reduce staff numbers, called LPS, which was meant to lead to over 6,000 redundancies: this was aimed mainly at the relatively unskilled jobs in the


technical and administrative fields. Although this plan was accepted by the unions, it was a new shock for the many employees who had had a job for life until that point. This embodied the change in their eyes, far more than managements speeches about the strategic consolidation of the company. In such a context, ten years or so after the reform was officially launched, most of the staff do not fully support the process, relying in particular on the influence of the existing structures and the institutions past history to justify their extremely reserved attitude to the reforms carried out by the top management. 2.1. An initial typology Referring to the abundant literature on change strategies, we can see that most of the studies fit in with one paradigm or another, which they develop and/or illustrate using empirical analyses. In order to clarify our reflection, here we refer to two interesting typologies, presented by Johnson (1987) and by Mintzberg et al. (1999). classifications considered here enable us in particular to establish the distinction between the analytical and normative levels of reasoning. This distinction seems crucial to us, in order to avoid any confusion between theoretical propositions and orientations for action. The analytical level refers to the observation and explanation of the strategic decisionmaking mechanism. The observation is an attempt to describe the reality that is being studied, by breaking it down into a certain number of variables using statistical tools, monographs, typologies, etc. The explanation per se consists of proposing and then testing hypotheses for relationships between these variables. The normative level recommends a certain number of principles that should be followed to achieve the objectives that have been set (effectiveness, performance, etc.), ideally supported by the analytical level. Unfortunately, many contemporary management manuals merely offer a collection of more or less standardised recipes, refraining from setting out the theoretical bases for their reflection, which are considered somewhat irrelevant, or even inappropriate, for a person of action. Despite the similarities that exist or should exist between the world of research per se and the world of organisational consulting, the two levels that we have just identified are separate and must remain so: in effect, their statuses and objectives are different. This is why we will cover them in different chapters. The typology proposed by Johnson (1987) hinges around an opposition between the rationalist t pole, based on the structured analysis of objective facts about the environment, and the interpretative pole, where this same environment is constructed by the playerss, in particular those in management: There is indeed a very considerable difference between the idea of strategic management as an essentially analytically driven process in which rational managers optimize performance by establishing facts about a knowable environment, and evaluate options against clear objectives; and the idea of managers manipulating organizational symbols in the enactment of organizational ideologies (1987, p. 58).


Based on this opposition, Johnson presents a continuum of models relating to the formation of strategies of change, ranging from rationalism to symbolic interpretativism (Schein) through logical incrementalism (Quinn), political incrementalism (Pettigrew), and cognitive interpretativism (Weick). Logical incrementalism is based on explaining decision-making as a permanent process of trial and error, faced with an ambiguous and uncertain environment, through which the strategy progressively takes shape. Political incrementalism sees it as a process of negotiation and trading between different interest groups that each defend a particular option. Cognitive interpretativism presents strategy as the result of a mental construction, both individual and collective, about the organisation and its environment. Finally, symbolic interpretativism refers to managers capacity to lead the organisation using a set of beliefs and symbolic values relating to the organisation and its context. As for the typology formulated by Mintzberg et al. (1999), this is also structured around two epistemological poles, which can be respectively described as methodological individualism and determinism. The individualist approach is based on the decision-makers intention and the rationality of their behaviour in defining strategic orientations. Conversely, the determinist explanation is essentially interested in the influence of factors beyond peoples individual control on the strategy formation process. The classification by Mintzberg et al., more detailed that Johnsons, identifies and orders no fewer than ten ways of thinking, presented in the table below. As we can see, the first three schools of thought are normative in nature: they concentrate on showing how strategies should be formulated ideally, rather than describing how they actually develop. The others are closer to the analytical level. Thus, as we move down the list, we move away from the level of the individual decisionmaker to take account of the forces that influence and even determine the decision-making process: cognitive and emotional limitations (cognitive school), the complexity of the environment, in which it is hard to control things completely (learning school), the set of power relationships (political school), the influence of values and ideologies (cultural school), the constraints of the environment to which one has to adapt (environmental school), etc.
Table 6: Ten schools of thought in the area of strategy SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT STRATEGY design conceptual process planning formalised process positioning analytical process entrepreneurial visionary process cognitive mental process learning emergent process political conflictual process cultural ideological process environmental passive process configurational episodic process (Mintzberg et al., 1999)

These two typologies have a certain number of points in common, as we can see from table 7, but their divergences have led us to make a certain number of adjustments.


Table 7: Comparison of the typologies of Johnson and Mintzberg et al. in the area of the formation of strategies of change


MINTZBERG et al.s TYPOLOGY design planning positioning entrepreneurial cognitive learning political cultural environmental configurational

cognitive interpretativism logical incrementalism political incrementalism symbolic interpretativism

We have found it useful to create separate groups for the first three types and the culturalist trend in the typology of Mintzberg et al., or, if you like, for Johnsons categories of rationalism and symbolic interpretativism: these different schools of thought are fundamentally derived from the same rationalising vision of the strategic decisionmaking mechanism and, more generally, the functioning of the organisation4. As Johnson says: Both Draft (1983) and Abravanel (1983) point to different levels of symbols in organizations. Daft points to instrumental symbols as serving a rational purpose, to convey information or meaning that will achieve some rational need for the organization (Daft, 1983, p.202) and which are likely to pertain to well understood organizational phenomena (p.204). Abravanel (1983) uses the term operational to describe the same phenomena. Whichever term is used the implication is similar; they are symbolic systems of the organization, which can be identified as the more formal aspects of control (1987, p. 49). Johnsons typology hardly refers to the influence of the environment. Mintzberg et al.s typology does refer to it, however we find it a little reductive to group trends as diverse as contingency theory and population ecology together under the same environmentalist label. Granted, they both discuss the influences of the environment, but they do this in very different terms. The former emphasises the adaptation processes in which the organisation can engage to adjust its multiple components (strategy, structure, technology, human resources) to external conditions. The latter moves the analysis and explanation to another level, the population of organisations, within a particularly long temporality: the environment is then understood as being the decisive factor in the creation, maintenance and disappearance of a given organisational form. This last trend alone seems to belong to a conception in which, as Mintzberg et al. put it, strategyformation is seen as a passive process. We shall not pay much attention to this here, as the level of analysis it involves is hardly relevant to the study of concrete ways of managing changes within organisations.

On this subject, see the excellent chapter by Wilson on programmed approaches to organisational change (1992, pp. 92-119).


Finally, two schools seem to occupy an unjustified position in Mintzberg et al.s typology: the entrepreneurial and configurational schools. The former had its heyday in the era of industrial capitalism, where intuition and the adventurous spirit of certain captains of industry were valued (Schumpeter), and has recently been the focus of renewed interest, with the increase in the number of start-ups linked to the widespread use of the Internet. However, beyond the mobilising character of the theses developed by this school, we must admit that its explanatory potential remains relatively limited: simply calling on managers visionary talents is not enough to build the foundations of a convincing analysis of the strategy formation processunless we bring in elements from one of the other schools (rationalism, cognitive interpretativism, etc.). We then describe a leader capable of conceiving of themselves, planning, positioning themselves, etc. As for the configurational school, which in fact encompasses all the work done by Mintzberg himself and his close collaborators (Miller and Friesen, Hardy, etc.), it seems to suffer from the usual fault of classifications proposed by an author seeking to position themselves in relation to the dominant trends in literature. We are not sure that it constitutes a school in its own right, for two essential reasons. Firstly, its globalising ambition has led it to try to incorporate the other schools, by assimilating them into the different stages of an organisations life cycle, rather than developing a specific point of view. Finally, the works of Mintzberg seem to fundamentally belong to a contingent conception of the life of the organisation: in fact, this is the reason why we will be explaining them in this context. For the next part of our reflection, we therefore propose to retain five fundamental currents in the analysis of the formation of strategies of change: rationalism sensu lato (including symbolic interpretativism in the works of Johnson, or the cultural school of Mintzberg et al.), which we will describe as an approach to planning; the political paradigm (political incrementalism in the works of Johnson); incrementalism (logical incrementalism in the works of Johnson; learning school in the works of Mintzberg et al.) the interpretative perspective stricto sensu (cognitive interpretativism); the contingent approach.

In the next part of the paper, each of these explanatory approaches will be considered in two parts: first we will propose a decoding of the change process observed at COM 2010 according to this approach; then we will identify its fundamental characteristics. 2.2. The planning approach (rationalism) 2.2.1. The vagaries of planned change From the moment the law on the reform of public sector companies was passed, the management team at COM 2010 would strive to obtain the status of autonomous public


sector company and implement the expected changes by formalising them using the management agreement and the business plan. The latter set out the quantitative objectives to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. Tangible progress was thus recorded, for instance the reduction in telephone network connection times (LAST project). In order to win the support of all the employees for the project, hard-hitting actions were undertaken, such as recourse to the Business Theatre: when these had ended, the employees were no longer supposed to express any diverging viewpoints on the nature of the change to be made. Moreover, most of the staff seemed to agree on the need for and usefulness of this reform. Only the pace of change left something to be desired, as the project did not move ahead as fast as planned. However, thanks to the LPS plan, launched at the instigation of the new management team, the pace of change would accelerate, with the massive departure of several thousands of employees whose skills were no longer suited to the new business demands of the company. 2.2.2. Main characteristics of the approach Planning is undoubtedly one of the most frequently used approaches in management literature when discussing change processes. As the standard approach at many management schools, widely disseminated by professional reviews and used by consulting firms, planning falls into the category of an ideal vision of the decision-making process. Information plays a major role here: it enables the decision-maker to take a sequential, thoroughly measured approach, in which the different steps to follow are broken down, analysed and, as far as possible, quantified. Prior to making any decision, the decisionmaker has access to complete information about all the solutions that can be applied to the problem facing them, and the possible consequences of its application the exhaustiveness principle and they are able to choose the best solution the optimisation principle. Moreover, the decision-maker has access to effective evaluation tools to help them oversee the satisfactory completion of the process the control principle and consequently revise their objectives, the resources allocated to solving the problem or the decision itself the feed-back principle. Finally, planning does not really accommodate a wide variety of viewpoints. On the contrary, it assumes that all the parties involved (managers, middle line, analysts and programme designers, etc.) fundamentally share the same values and objectives. Once these objectives are incorporated into the plan, they are not discussed again and remain unchanged from formulation to implementation and control (principle of invariability of objectives). The rational diagram of the decision-making process is summarised in figure 2. It applies to strategic decisions as well as operative or managerial decisions.
Figure 2: Rational diagram of the decision-making process


From such a perspective, strategy formation is understood as a sequential process in which the decision-maker has full control over the decision-making process, from the problem definition stage onwards, before proceeding with its implementation, which is monitored using sophisticated evaluation tools. If there are problems at the implementation stage (resistance to change, for example), it means that they have not been dealt with properly at the conception stage and that the preliminary analysis of possible solutions has not been carried out properly. In principle, as we said earlier, all members of the organisation are meant to support the decision-makers objectives. It is easy to understand that such a decision-making process can only take place in a relatively simple (i.e. analysable and formalisable) environment, often reduced to the sector of activity. In the area of organisational change, this means that managers decisions necessarily come ahead of changes to the structure. Depending on their rational analysis of the situation, either internal or external, the managers are in fact the ones who define the new orientations to follow. A great deal of research contributes to this school of thought. Examples include seminal works by two authors who seem to clearly illustrate the rationalist perspective, while each placing emphasis on specific things: Ansoff and Porter. All the works of Ansoff from Ansoff (1965) to Ansoff and McDonnel (1990) assimilate strategic decisions into long-term planning, based on complex techniques developed by specialists whose function is to guide the decision-maker in their choices. A


strategic decision must be unique, explicit and rational. It is essentially aimed at profit optimisation. The name of Porter (1982, 1986), is associated with the firms strategic position in a sector of activity. Decision-makers will base their choices on an examination of external potentialities on the one hand, and a reasoned analysis of internal strengths and weaknesses on the other. Beyond their specific positions, all planning theorists consider that the decision-making process unfolds in a quasi-linear manner, following a series of separate, sequentially ordered stages. This vision is rather normative in nature. Here, it is not a case of describing practices as they can be observed in the field, but of providing managers with the tools and concepts to improve their decision-making processes. In certain cases, however, the authors aim to improve practices based on observing what successful businesses do, hence the vocabulary of theorised practice attached to this type of approach. Moreover, insofar as such writings directly inspire managerial practices and influence the terms of their implementation, they may form a useful frame of reference for providing an account of practices that can be observed among managers. On the methodological level, the planning approach logically leads to the development of codified techniques and tools that generally fall within the remit of project management: definition of the project (objectives, expected results, length, schedule, etc.); analysis of the current situation (processes, operations, etc.); detailed conception and validation of solutions (including related indicators); implementation and monitoring of results; and any remedial actions. Such structured project management tools, often developed by consultants, are highly prized by management teams, as they support their planning-based vision of change5. It goes without saying that this approach turns out to be particularly unsuitable for induced changes which are not underpinned by any managerial intention. For a long time, the empirical literature on change has helped to show the limits of the planning approach. Here we must mention the famous diagram presented by Mintzberg and Waters (1982, p.466), in which a large part of the initially intended change is never achieved as such, whereas the change that actually occurs, to a greater or lesser extent, appears as the result of emergent processes, which can consequently be incorporated into the analysis. Each of the approaches considered below will enable us to define different aspects of these emergent processes.

There are many similarities from one firm of consultants to another, as noted by Werr et al. (1997).


Figure 3: Deliberate/emergent change

Deliberate strategies Realised strategie s

Source: (1982) d Mintzberg and Waters strategies




2.3. The political approach 2.3.1. Major conflicts Despite the attitude of benevolent cooperation shown by the unions at COM 2010, we could not help being struck by the growing divide between the new management team and the rest of the organisation. This divide was reflected in the opposition shown by a growing proportion of the staff, whose interests were increasingly threatened (for example, staff working in earthworks and cable laying). We also noted the growing opposition between the new professionals (salespeople, consultants, etc.) and the old dominant casts (technicians and administrative staff), which were also increasingly under threat. These tensions became particularly tangible upon the initiation of the LPS plan, which led to 6,000 redundancies. There was also another conflict within the organisation, this time concerning the management authorities (Management Committee and Board of Directors), given the lack of precision in the law with regard to the distribution of competences between these two bodies. It gave rise to a tough intervention by the supervisory authority to replace the management team. The extent to which these divides intensified as the change process unfolded is striking. They led to an attitude of withdrawal developing among most of the staff. 2.3.2. Main characteristics of the approach Once we move away from the normative observe the life of organisations more closely, we soon realise that the latter is very ill-suited to delivering clarity and transparency, and reducing sources of uncertainty. The works of Allison (1971), Cyert and March (1963), Crozier and Friedberg (1977), Pfeffer (1981) to name just a few of the main representatives of the political approach show the extent to which the life of an organisation is affected by a contradictory set of different rationalities, depending on the coalitions that are formed between players with a view to defending a certain number of interests. Advocates of the political approach work on the basis of an initial observation: the rational diagram of the decision-making process and, more generally, the planning-based vision of the organisations, are incapable of providing an account of the concrete ways in which individuals behave within the groups to which they belong. Despite the indisputable tendency towards rationalisation in the life of organisations, favoured in particular by the


development of management methods and technological progress, players behaviour is often underpinned by rationalities that are specific to them and often turn out to be in opposition to each other. The political approach is thus poles apart from the planning approach. The explanation provided by theorists of the political approach is expressed in terms of power relationships, defence of interests, and control of areas of uncertainty. Alongside the organisational diagram and the official structure organisation, it sets out an informal structure, made up of games, trade-offs and negotiations (Friedberg, 1993). It introduces the important concept of the actor, ignored by the rationalist diagram that considers the management team and the specialists assisting it as the only legitimate decision-makers. Here, the player is defined as the member of an interest group, capable of influencing other actors and consequently deploying the appropriate strategies (defensive or offensive). Its power is defined by its control over the relevant organisational resources . Such a conception obviously has important implications for the way we analyse decisionmaking in organisations. Instead of considering the latter as a sequential process which is objective and structured, the political paradigm highlights the influences likely to be exercised at each stage: during the processes of defining the problem, listing possible solutions, and actually choosing the solution and how to execute it. Seminal texts that take the political approach include the works of Crozier and Friedberg (1977) and Pfeffer (1981), although there have been many developments in this approach since then. We should however note the nuances that exist between these authors, which are undoubtedly linked to the specific features of the European and North American research traditions. While the research by Crozier and Friedberg seems to place more emphasis on the permanence of power phenomena in the life of the organisation, Pfeffer activity does not necessarily develop in all contexts and can even be attenuated under certain conditions. The fact remains that the political paradigm leads to a very particular conception of the processes of change. For Crozier and Friedberg (1977, pp.325-347):

change is systemic, i.e. linked to the concrete action system which it develops and to which it applies; for there to be change, the action system needs to transform itself and there must be a collective learning of the new relationships between actors, the new rules of the game; however, most change projects take the form of a reduction of areas of uncertainty and a rationalisation of the life of the organisation. This exposes them to defensive or offensive reactions from different groups whose interests are potentially under threat, and in most cases leads to dissolution or failure pure and simple; in this perspective, the real change i.e. learning new games can only take place in the context of a crisis, a break from the old regulatory mechanisms.

The same tone is found in the works of Pfeffer, who believes that powerorganisation (1981, p.289). The sources of this stability are, according to this author:


the players commitment to ensuring that decisions are adopted and strategies are constructed. Given the cost of such a commitment, individuals tend to maintain their position much longer than necessary. Even in the event of a failure or mistake, they will continue to defend their arguments, for acknowledging their mistakes would most often entail a loss of legitimacy and therefore the risk of losing power.

the legitimacy of practices and beliefs This legitimacy is based on the institutionalisation of practices and beliefs, which gives them an objective quality and therefore makes them difficult to change.

the tendency towards perpetuation and self-renewal of power This is a classic observation in organisational theory: all power that is acquired reinforces itself.

The combination of these three factors makes any organisational change very difficult and can delay the organisations adaptation to its environment (inertia), even to the point of threatening its survival (1981, p.326). We must admit that in this perspective, the possibilities of system evolution are slim and that existing structures are likely to survive in one way or another. Furthermore, it has to be noticed that the majority of research carried out in this field refers to situations of failure, detailed with care. The existing structures seem to be reinforced as a result of a zero sum game, during the course of which the contradictory strategies of the different stakeholders eventually counterbalance each other 6. Referring to research carried out in organisational theory on the impact of technological change, Keen concludes: [Such analyses] imply, however, that signals from the top often get diffused, defused, and even lost, as they move down and across units whose linkages are tenuous. The more complex the organization, the less likely the impact of technical change; homeostatic, selfequilibrating forces in loosely coupled systems are a major explanation for the frequency of failure of large-scale planning projects (1981, p. 25). The political approach therefore defends the idea that no change process will succeed in making the life of the organisation more transparent and less conflictual, even if it is very elaborate in terms of management technologies. Deep down, the panoptical temptation (Pichault, 1990; Segrestin, 2004) that continues to characterise most change processes today,

With respect to this, let us refer to the famous decision-makers dilemma described by Crozier and Friedberg (1977, pp.335-338). Whilst the manager plans a structural reform of one sort or another, he endeavours to obtain a progressive adjustment of the strategies of the different parties concerned. However, he condemns his attempt at reform as being weakened in the entanglements of these strategies, each group wanting to orientate the project according to its own limited rationality. On the other hand, if he decides to avoid the organisational game and to impose the desired reform without preparation, the manager exposes himself to a pure and simple dismissal, to a graft which is rejected: a situation characteristic of numerous enterprises where the change process has been imposed from above, without consulting the staff categories concerned. Whatever the solution adopted, the risk of change will be minimal.


whether they are ERP-type integrated management software programs (Lui & Chan, 2008), reengineering (Sarker, Sarker & Sidorava, 2006) or New Public Management (Thomas & Davis, 2005; Pichault, 2007), is condemned to clash with the opacity of organisational life. Regardless of its method of implantation, a change process is in effect a way of dealing out the cards again between the different groups of players present, and simultaneously provoking reactions in different directions. Whether they are defensive or offensive, such reactions nonetheless take on a highly strategic character. In particular, when the change process means that players face an intensification of their pace of work, a threat to their status or employment, or a restriction of their room for manoeuvre, it is not surprising that it should become a particular target for multiple uncontrolled practices of diversion and appropriation. In such a context, it is understandable that the objectives initially set for a change project in terms of increased productivity, in particular are unlikely to be achieved, at least not in the way intended by the projects promoters. Even without access to the tools needed for a detailed appraisal of the effects on productivity of a change process, we can see that a gap appears between the amount of resources used (investments in hardware and software, human mobilisation through training, redeployment, etc.) and the results effectively obtained. In fact this gap is the cause of a certain awareness among project managers of the role of conflicts in change management. In an article with a revealing title, after conducting a series of interviews with computer project managers , Grover, Lederer and Sabherwal (1988) go so far as to propose a typology which in fact is very interesting of the games that players are likely to engage in when faced with the new system, according to the interests they seek to defend. In the area of information systems, the importance of the political aspects has been the focus of analysts attention for a long time (Leiser, 2007). Yet does this necessarily mean that outside of exceptional crisis situations caused by the brutal modification of an exogenous factor (sources of funding drying up, new competitors arriving, a new partner taking control, etc.), no change process can lead to a substantial modification of the action system in force within the organisation? In other words, when we take power perpetuation? A certain number of authors defend the idea that the action system can evolve. Alter (1990, 2000) thinks that conflicts can lead to innovation. Yet he seems to link this possibility to the informational logic of the modern business which, while benefiting from the contribution of information technologies amongst other things, is said to escape the vicious circle of selfreproduction, a characteristic of bureaucratic businesses, by increasing the number of areas of uncertainty in the organisational game. However, we feel that such a conception is a return to the premises of technological determinism: with old technology, the game ends; with new technology, the game begins... The conceptualisation proposed by Salerni (1979) seems to offer another answer, an original and interesting one. Although it relates to technological innovation, and not change in general, it seems to provide another perspective on conflictual phenomena.


According to Salerni, the social history of technologies may be seen as a series of cycles, connected as follows7: 1. during the first phase of socialisation, the operators familiarise and adapt themselves to the specific constraints of the new technical base (procedures to recognise, processing methods to apply in each particular case, orders to comply with in the event of a breakdown, etc.), as these are defined by the analysts; 2. during the second phase of socialisation, the operators progressively discover the possibilities of deviation away from the official work procedures and standards of production, as well as the scale of sanctions with which they are associated; 3. A genuine counter-organisational system emerges, within which the turnover decreases, the costs of production increase and control proves to be totally ineffective; 4. then a feedback phase begins during which the acting managers become aware of the discrepancy between the pre-fixed objectives and the actual achievements of the system and are driven to devise, and then to introduce, a new technical base as a provisional solution to this discrepancy; 5. the new technical base is implemented and a new socialisation . Salerniprogressively incorporated into the technology, are just as important in constituting the conditions necessary for innovation. In so far as these constraints are perceived, and sometimes even anticipated by the managerial group, they feel the need to continuously put new solutions into action, following a learning process (Sgrestin, 2004). The social constraints are thus both a hindrance to the initial rationalisation project and a stimulus for innovation. There is no doubt that practices of and appropriation create obstacles to the full accomplishment of managerial objectives, but they also directly contribute to the renewal of technical bases. In reality, we find ourselves poles apart from the perpetuation: in this case, it would be more appropriate to speak of the innovation principle. It will therefore be a case of examining the conditions under which conflicts may lead to a dilution of the change process and a logic of perpetuation (phase 3 of Salernis cycle) or, on the contrary, give rise to a genuine process of innovation (phases 4 and 5 of Salernis cycle). On the methodological level, the political approach raises the following questions: what groups of actors are involved (stakeholders)? what is at stake in their dispute? to what assets do they have access? what alliances are being formed between them? what means of action are they consequently deploying?

It is effectively a case of identifying the stakeholder groups who are explicitly attempting to influence the process under way, in order to orient it to suit their own objectives. These include internal stakeholders, who are an integral part of the organisation being studied

We have changed the authors presentation slightly, in the interests of clarity.


(management, middle line, analysts, salespeople, operators, etc.) as well as external stakeholders who are attempting to defend certain strategic interests, using their capacity for mobilisation (unions) or allocation of financial resources (owners) in particular. The stakes of the dispute represent the way each stakeholder group perceives the change that is under way, and the risks or opportunities that it may bring. The premise here is that the group is aware of its interests and the majority of its members are acting with full knowledge of the facts. The assets to which the stakeholder groups have access are their sources of power, in a way. Taking inspiration from the works of Crozier and Friedberg (1977) and Pfeffer (1981) in particular, we shall pay close attention to: control of specific expertise, which is all the more crucial as it represents an important skill which will be hard for the organisation to replace; control of relationships with the environment (marginal-secant), which are a major area of uncertainty for the organisation; control of one of the circuits of communication and certain formal or informal communication flows; control over how rules are made and/or applied; in principle, rules are designed to reduce unpredictable behaviour, however they can also be a constraint for line managers insofar as their own authority is subject to narrowly defined limits; control of financial resources, which maintains a crucial level of dependence in the life of organisations insofar as it often affects the ability to access other sources of power.

Strategic alliances are the social bases on which strategies are built: most of the time, these are temporary alliances between groups who have different basic interests but choose to unite to fight for a shared cause. Finally, the means of action are the behaviours and attitudes adopted by the stakeholder groups once they feel that the cost of an action is offset by the importance of the stakes. Means of action are formed in specific ways in each organisational context. They range from slowdowns to straightforward boycotts, through increases in the number of clandestine practices, excessive quality, etc. The political approach emphasises the fundamentally unstable character of social imbalances: todays compromise may be called into question tomorrow following the arrival of new stakeholders who bring new stakes, have access to new assets, are able to deploy new means of action and form new alliances. A change process is therefore fundamentally unpredictable: it is punctuated by blocks, steps backward, junctions, etc. Another approach insists on the non-linear nature of change processes and is a useful addition to the political approach: this approach is called incrementalism. 2.4. The incremental approach 2.4.1. A change project following on from other projects


Given its history, COM 2010 may be considered a mature organisation with a strong bureaucratic element (high level of division of labour and hierarchical organisation), essentially based on technical skills, with a tendency towards centralised decision-making at the level of the supervisory authority. During the 30 years that preceded the reform in question, COM 2010 was the subject of many restructuring projects, all more or less abortive. It still lived with the scandal of a big financial scandal that had happened years before, which led to a tightening of control procedures and increased centralisation of decision-making. Such a context undoubtedly did not stop a proliferation of unofficial initiatives from the local units, in response to customers increasingly pressing demands. The fact remains that the current reform is inevitably affected by the limited success of the previous restructuring initiatives. 2.4.2. Main characteristics of the approach Just like the advocates of the political approach, the authors who claim to belong to the incrementalist school start from a point of view which is radically opposite to rationalism. They study decision-making processes and attempt to demonstrate that it is not the formal planning methods (setting objectives, planning, selection, evaluation) that are predominant, but on the contrary, it is most often a process of continuous development, largely fragmented and iterative and incremental in nature (Lindblom, 1959). In this process, moreover, formulation and implementation do not appear as separate moments in time that follow on from each other (I decide, then I implement) but are far more likely to be inseparable (the moment when the strategy is formulated is inseparable from its implantation). Far from considering such a state of affairs as contrary to the exercise of reason, they do not hesitate to take a normative attitude to it. In short, if the real decision-maker does not behave the way the rationalist authors suggest, this is not only usual but is in many circumstances desirable (Quinn, 1980). Take a budget allocation process for example: this is rarely results in an examination of all the items every year. It more commonly results in the a posteriori adaptation of a limited number of items where a change is required. This approach questions the idea that decision-makers have total freedom when it comes to choosing which decisions to implement. Indeed, managers actions are largely dependent on choices that have been made previously; their room for manoeuvre is therefore highly circumscribed. The result is a picture of organisational change that can only be incremental, as each new situation is modelled on a previous situation which it is only marginally different from, following an ongoing process of trial and error. The objectives that are effectively pursued are defined on the basis of this process. From the same perspective, various authors have thus developed the thesis of path dependency: the more organisational stakeholders follow a particular path, the more they tend to keep to this path and not turn back. This explains the tendency towards inertia in organisations. As Sydow, Schreygg & Koch (2005) remind us, in an interesting contribution assessing the use of the path dependency thesis in management sciences, this theory makes it possible to understand the way change processes unfold in connection with organisational learning processes (Nooteboom, 1997), mergers and acquisitions (Karim &


Mitchell, 2000), information technologies, the establishment of interorganisational partnerships, etc. According to this approach, the significance of the past, culture, current projects and earlier decisions often intervenes in the management of a change process, in a crucial way. The life of many organisations is indeed characterised by short periods of radical change where the cost of failure to adapt to environmental variations becomes too high compared to the cost of internal restructuring alternating with long periods of incremental change where the cost of failure to adapt to the external environment is not thought to be high enough for the organisation to undertake an in-depth restructuring programme. We therefore understand that one of the major challenges in any change process consists of combining the temporality of the project in question with the temporalities of the organisations other projects. The latter may interfere significantly with the current project and affect its course. On the methodological level, the incremental approach consists of identifying the main temporal dynamics at work in the organisation and evaluating the extent to which the current process is able to connect with them. It is therefore especially attentive to decisions made earlier on and their effects on the current change process. This insistence on the significance of earlier choices and their temporalities paves the way for another approach, which is more focussed on the role of context in explaining the change process. This is the main issue for the contingent approach. 2.5. The contingent approach 2.5.1. A necessary adaptation COM 2010 has to deal with a worldwide shift towards deregulation and must therefore adjust its structures in response to increased competition (end of the national monopolies). This shift is reflected in European Union directives and consequently forms a restrictive context that must be conformed to. The law on public sector company reform, which prompted the change of structure at COM 2010, is part of this perspective. It aims to give the operator greater autonomy and separate the operational functions from the regulatory ones. Such a change of status also corresponds to a tendency, observed in many European states, to privatise highly profitable public assets in order to reduce growing budget deficits. This follows the historic example of the privatisation of British Telecom, long seen as a model by many European states. 2.5.2. Main characteristics of the approach One of the fundamental principles of the contingent approach consists of showing how organisations conceive and develop specific structuring methods according to the environment in which they operate (Donaldson, 2001). The main ideas of the contingency approach are as follows:


organisations are open systems that need to be carefully administered in order to meet their internal needs while helping them adapt to their environment and its modifications; there is no one way of organising the work. It all depends on the type of task or type of environment one is dealing with; managers must above all succeed in making the right adjustments. Various methods may be necessary within a single organisation in order to carry out different tasks, according to the specific environments to which they correspond.

In other words, the contingency theory basically comes down to considering that organising requires research and coherence, and that an organisation can only be effective insofar as there is compatibility between strategy, structure, techniques, members needs and the environment. Therefore there is no optimal, universal solution here. Managers are no longer seen as omniscient figures here, able to optimise their decisions whatever the circumstances: they must above all succeed in adjusting their organisation to the characteristics of the context in which it operates. If they do not do this, they condemn it to poor performance. The diversity of organisational forms therefore results from more or less successful processes of adaptation to the diverse conditions (constraints and opportunities) of the context. These conditions are external (a particular type of market, national culture, technology, etc.) as well as internal (age, size of the organisation, its strategy, etc.) Thus, Lawrence and Lorsch (1989) show that the shift to an organic type of configuration constitutes an adequate response to a market that had become dynamic, complex and heterogeneous, while the change to a machine configuration turns out to be more justified when dealing with a market that is stabilising and simplifying. The works of Hofstede (1991) emphasise the influence of national cultural characteristics on organisational variables. If, for example, an organisation wishes to expand to a country with a high degree of individualism (like the United States), it must adopt working methods based on achieving results and decentralisation of decision-making. However, if it is establishing itself in a culture where there is greater distance from authority (like in France), a structure with a high level of vertical differentiation will be a wiser choice, along with greater centralisation of decision-making. According to Woodward (1965), the more the technical system hinges around mass production, the greater the tendency towards formalisation and bureaucratisation of the structure; on the other hand, the more sophisticated it is (continuous technology), the more skilled the staff becomes and the more flexible the structure tends to become. A change of technical system therefore has significant potential effects in organisational terms. The contingent approach emphasises the influence of context, internally as well as externally, on the life of the organisation. In this approach, the context is an exogenous variable, over which managers have little control: the market, technology, national culture and the size and age of the organisation are essentially seen as restrictive factors whose


consequences must be managed by adapting the work organisation, HRM, strategy, information systems, etc. to their evolutions in an appropriate manner. An important trend in the literature on change thus defends the thesis of strategic alignment: a business performance depends on its managements ability to ensure coherence between its position on a given market, and the development of an adequate structure in terms of organisational processes as well as deployment of information technologies to support the strategic choices that are made and the ongoing adaptation of these choices to contextual transformations. Based on the characteristics of the context, it is therefore a case of aligning the business strategy and the HRM policy (Tichy et al., 1982; Dan-Shang & Chi-Lih, 2008) or the business strategy with the information system (Henderson, J.C & Venkatraman, N., 1999; Sabberwal & Chan, 2001; Fimbel, 2007). According to Fimbel (2007), the application of the strategic alignment model can be divided into two complementary areas: a first level of alignment, known as strategic alignment, which expresses the necessary coherence between the strategies externally-oriented and the internal organisational infrastructure; a second level of alignment, known as functional integration, that involves ensuring compatibility between the different types of strategy (business strategy and information technology strategy, for example).

On the methodological level, it is above all a case of adequately characterising the context in which the organisation is evolving: once more, an ideal-typical approach, as used by the main authors of the contingent approach, can prove useful when carrying out this monitoring work. The managerial actions to be carried out follow on from this logically. Nonetheless, the context in which the organisation is evolving does not only constitute a restriction on the actions of its members: it can also be mobilised by the latter, as emphasised in the interpretative approach. 2.6. The interpretative approach 2.6.1. Communication by denigration The change at COM 2010 was certainly supported from the outset by a collective representation of the environmental threat (competition, deregulation, etc.). On this point, a consensus was quickly reached: from the supervisory authorities to the unions through the management team, all agreed on the need for radical reform at the company, a shift from the engineer culture to a more commercial approach. A certain number of media operations were put in place by the management team to win support for this change of principle: adoption of a new logo, recourse to the Business Theatre, creation of a company newsletter, moving to a luxurious building that was very different from the buildings occupied previously, prestige expenditures designed to attract customers, various promotional actions, etc. It was above all about breaking away from the old image of a bureaucratic, complex and slow structure, impervious to the evolutions of the market. However, instead of capitalising on an initial situation that was a priori favourable, the communication strategy progressively turned into an attempt to erase the past and start from scratch. Several managers including the Chairman of the Board of Directors did not hesitate to clumsily stigmatise


the inability of the old structure and its agents to deal with the new context. The impression of denigration was reinforced by the mass arrival of consultants, who involuntarily became accomplices in delivering a message that useful skills could not be found internally. The straightforward negation by the management team of earlier experiences (public service, technical culture) in favour of an all-powerful management principle was clearly not going to offer an interpretation of the change that would be collectively acceptable. 2.6.2. Main characteristics of the approach Contrary to the literature that examines the impact of environmental constraints on the life of the organisation, here it is the organisation, defined as a socially constructed system of common meanings, which actively constructs the environment. The organisation and the environment are created together through social interactions that play out between the members of the organisation. Thus, the interpretativist approach is mainly concerned with underlining the importance of processes such as perception, conceptualisation or sensemaking, in understanding the organisational phenomena. One of the most interesting conceptual patterns in this perspective is undoubtedly that developed by the psychologist Weick (1979, 1995). Other authors have continued in the same direction: Pondy (1983), Huff (1989), Smircich and Stubbart (1985). Weick describes the organisational processes in terms of resolving the equivocality inherent in complex problems. Individuals face a set of difficult, unpredictable and equivocal problems which are impossible to solve and interpret individually. These uncertainties are resolved organisationally by collectively processing information. In a way, the organisations constitute social systems which are constantly striving to resolve the equivocality of the world that individuals experiment with, with the essential problem to be solved being that of giving meaning to the surrounding world. The four components of the organisational process are the constant changes of the surrounding world, enactment, selection and retention. Changes and enactment Changen the course of the experiences in which the individuals are engaged. These differences may stand out or attract attention because of their equivocality, and consequently invite meaning to be given to them. This is achieved through a mental operation that Weick calls enactment. The activity of enactment can only occur when unknown signals appear, dissimilar to anything the individual or organisation have seen before. It is enactment that establishes segregation between the environments to which the organisation is trying to attribute a meaning and the ones that it does not know about. Moreover, enactment is closely linked to changes. In effect, changes provide the enactable environments, i.e. the basic material which may or may not set in motion the process aimed at giving it meaning.


Weick insists on the fact that the enactment phase does not necessarily take place in all circumstances. The stakeholders are in reality more tempted to make a selection, i.e. to confirm the meanings that they attribute to the situations (drawing on the enacted environments, see below) rather than questioning them. This freezing of the enactment phase is based in particular on a process called avoided test: individuals set limits on their interpretation activities, based on a presumption of failure rather than concrete experimentation. Selection Selection consists precisely of applying various structures to equivocal signals8 in order to make them more intelligible. These structures are formed of interrelated variables, constructed during earlier experiences which, superimposed on the signals, will either make things more confusing and therefore be rejected, or will provide a reasonable interpretation of them. This comes down to saying that the members of the organisation tend to choose the explanations, interpretations and meanings that enable the new enactments to fit in with the old enacted environments, resulting from the retention process (see below). There is therefore a mutual reinforcement process during which the current decisions are made on the basis of past experience and, conversely, where the past experience is confirmed by the present action. Let us refer to Johnsons presentation of this very important characteristic of organisational life: Whilst managers may possess theories of action that is, espoused theories of how they would behave in a situation they tend not to act according to those theories but according to discernible theories in use. Decisions are typically made by individuals seeking to relate new experience to such theories in use; in effect by interpreting new experience according to pre-determined patterns. Moreover these theories in use that guide action are, demonstrably, very difficult to change. Even when owners of these theories are able to spell them out and recognize the need for changing them, it is still very difficult for them to do so. Individuals seek, rather, to confirm and reinforce their theories in use by searching for solutions to problems or behaving in ways that are in line with them (1987, p. 40). Retention Retention covers the storage and memorisation of the patterns that help make sense of things. Weick calls these patterns enacted environments. The organisational environment is therefore not identified with the organisations physical surroundings. It is also not a perceived environment, a concept indicating that reality is perceived selectively because of the cognitive limits and/or power relationships at work in the organisation. The concept of the enacted environment takes away the physical environmentorganisation: in reality, the environment is constructed by the members of the organisation. For Weick, it is by acting that stakeholders arrange the variables, set an order for them and create constraints themselves. In other words, it is individuals that construct, rearrange, simplify and destroy the many objective elements of their environment.

Weick observes that signals are not equivocal in the sense of being devoid of meaning or liable to cause confusion, but in the sense that multiple meanings may be superimposed on them.


An important consequence of the interpretative paradigm is that organisations are only capable of formulating their strategy after having implemented it, and not the other way round. To imagine otherwise would be to ignore the fact that meaning is always attributed following an event or action. In such a context, the managers role takes on special importance: they favour certain signals coming from the environment and negotiate a collective interpretation according to the stock of accumulated experiences (patterns) that exist in the organisation. How acceptable the proposed interpretation is to the members will depend on how skilled they are at enactment. They therefore play a role of facilitation, translation and integration, which most often consists of confirming pre-existing theories, but which can lead to the introduction of new schemas of reference during periods of organisational crisis. We must therefore remember that the environment does not act mechanically on the organisation: the same context may give rise to very different interpretations among stakeholders; it is liable to be seen as a threat as much as a stake. On the methodological level, we should be attentive to such a diversity of interpretations and see it in relation to the role of sensemakers played consciously or unconsciously by managers (Weick, 1995; Rouleau, 2005), in the way they manage the disruption of patterns that is inevitably linked to the change process. Convention theory (Boltanski & Thvenot, 1991) is a conceptualisation developed from a similar perspective. This theory helps us understand how a certain convergence eventually emerges between individuals faced with situations of uncertainty, i.e. complex situations which have many different facets evolving in ways that individuals are unable to understand exactly. This uncertainty means they are unable to make a rational decision, i.e. make a decision by defining what their interests are, calculating the costs and benefits linked to each possible alternative, and choosing the most advantageous one for them. In such a context, individuals need reference points on which to base their decisions. Some of these reference points are stated explicitly but most of them take on more implicit forms that reveal conventions (see above, section 1.1.2). A situation of change is characterised by the interaction of several conventions. These differ from each other, firstly at the level of form: following the proposals of Gomez (2006), we can thus identify them by the material base that underpins them (terms of contact between stakeholders of the same convention, degree of technical intermediation, degree of tolerance in interpreting the rules) or their level of complexity (number of behavioural rules corresponding to the various situations that agents may face). However, they are also different in terms of content: see the typology by Boltanski & Thvenot (1991) above. One of the key roles of the management teams will then be to carry out various legitimisation and communication activities to create convergence between old and new conventions when the change process takes place. 2.7. Towards an integrating model 2.7.1. Is description separate from explanation?


At the end of this review of the main approaches to change, the reader will surely be struck by the fact that most of the categories used to describe the change process are in reality incorporated into specific approaches that help to explain it, especially where these are of a hypothetico-deductive nature. Thus, the strategy types identified by Miles and Snow (1978) and Porter (1980) logically fit in with the vision of change steered by an enlightened general management team (planning approach). Mintzbergs (1982) various organisational configurations or Woodwards (1965) types of technology are particularly useful in underlining the influence of certain contextual elements on the change process (contingent approach). As for the orders of worth of Boltanski and Thvenot (1991), these clearly reveal all their analytical potential when we seek to decode the different meanings that a change process may have for its stakeholders (interpretativist approach). These approaches share a hypothetico-deductive conception of explanation, using theoretical constructions as a basis to explore empirical reality9. The descriptive categories they provide are therefore not neutral since they refer back to a particular, preferred approach. On the other hand, it is not surprising that more inductive approaches like the political approach or the incremental approach, which are based on the concrete action systems or particular histories of each organisation do not propose descriptive categories at the outset.

We should nonetheless stress that proponents of the interpretativist approach are far from being in agreement on the possibility of characterising a priori the register of the different interpretations that are likely to appear.


2.7.2. The stakes of a plural explanation: the five forces model After discussing the specificities of each of these explanatory approaches, we are now able to propose an integrated, multidimensional model with which to analyse the change process. The particularity of this model called the five forces model is that it combines the different explanatory approaches by exploiting their complementary nature, with a view to offering a global understanding of the change processes. This model fits in with the contextualist research tradition developed by Pettigrew (1987) and his team in the study of change processes. Contextualism is not an explanatory approach strictly speaking: rather, it proposes a general analytical framework which different approaches may fit into. It places the emphasis on three key concepts and their interrelations: content, context and process, respectively. The contents are simply the area concerned or the target of the change. These contents and their evolution may be described using the concepts set out above (see chapter 1). The contexts are the factors liable to influence the contents and their evolution. In a fairly classical way, Pettigrew distinguishes between factors specific to the organisation itself and those relating to its environment: in other words, internal contexts (work methods, size, age of the organisation) and external ones (market, social regulations, etc.). As for the processes, these relate to the power relationships that develop between actors, based on their defence of their specific interests, and the initiatives that they consequently implement when faced with the change process (some seeking to move the situation in a particular direction, others seeking to stabilise it). These three variables are closely interrelated, as shown in figure 4. From a contextualist viewpoint, we consider that stakeholders games are at least partly constrained by the contexts, but at the same time that they construct and thus transform them.
Figure 4: The interaction of content-context-process



context process The paradigmatic openness that characterises the contextualist analytical framework leads us logically to a general model that includes the different approaches set out earlier.


Change is first of all content, i.e. an object that will be subject to change, most often reflecting the intentions of a management team in terms of its target, rhythm or expected results (planning approach), but which may also result from the unintentional evolution of certain variables. This change may not be understood correctly without being seen in relation to the context it is meant to be implanted in (contingent approach), which in this regard represents as many constraints as it does opportunities. Its introduction process proves crucial: how stakeholders are positioned in relation to the content (political approach), how they are affected in these positions by the organisations history and legacy of past decisions, each of which has a specific temporality (incremental approach), and how they enact the contextual elements to integrate them into the content in a meaningful way (interpretativist approach).
Figure 5: The five forces model Project design, CONTENT key stages and expected results (planning approach) Processus de changement Constraints and opportunities of the context (contingent approach)

Lgitimit et signification commune du projet (approche interprtative)

This model takes the multiple dimensions of a change process into account. In the case of

COM 2010, attention will be paid as much to the fulfilment of the business plan and the management agreement as to the context of liberalisation that prevails in all the European states and which, to a certain extent, influences the conviction among all the stakeholders that things have to change; to the multiple conflicts that will occur when the reform is introduced; to the legacy of previous initiatives and their limited success; and to the suspicion introduced by the new convention towards the old convention that was in force until that point.


Our reasoning will therefore be structured by a few key concepts: business plans and objectives (planning approach), evolution of the internal and external context (contingent approach), self-reproducing or innovative conflicts (political approach), connection of the current process to actions undertaken previously (incremental approach ), legitimacy and shared meaning of the change (interpretativist approach). One of the risks of the explanatory approach that we propose is that of integral relativism. In this analysis we will strive to carefully reconstruct the specific trajectory of each change process using the five forces model. We will thus be able to show that in one case, the directions of change are affected above all by the combined forces of a visionary management team, capable of uniting around a coherent project, a favourable economic context and pacification of the internal games linked to the domination of service unionism; whereas in another case, the process is affected more by the accumulation of earlier failures of similar initiatives, the rigidity of the management team in a planning-based vision of change, the bureaucratic character of the organisational structure and the divide between pro- and anti- change. However, further along (in chapter 4), we will show how this model enables us to anticipate some possible scenarios of evolution, to a certain extent. This should go some way towards countering the accusation of integral relativism.

What should we remember from this chapter? After attempting to classify the analytical works on the formation of strategies of change, we identified five main explanatory approaches in this area. The planning approach which conceives of change as a sequential process in which the development of a strategy precedes its implementation remains the dominant approach in management literature. However, it is undermined by other, more analytical approaches: the political approach, which insists on the pre-eminence of power games between stakeholders with different rationalities; the incremental approach, which underlines the influence of earlier decisions on present actions, in effect limiting managers room for manoeuvre; the contingent approach, which emphasises contextual evolutions, internally as well as externally; the interpretativist approach, which is attentive to the way the organisation actively constructs its environment and the role the management team plays in this construction process, which may determine how acceptable the meaning given to it will be. We then connected these various explanatory approaches together in an integrating model known as the five forces model, which offers a global, nuanced vision of the change process.


3. A CHANGE TO BE EVALUATED In this chapter you will find: - an initial exploration of the consequences of each explanatory approach in terms of evaluation of change; - a presentation of four case studies illustrating the contrasting modalities of change processes (modernisation of HRM at a public administration, strategic restructuring at a media group, a socially responsible approach at an air freight company and a change of information system at a press agency); - a systematic application of evaluation methods derived from the various explanatory approaches to these cases (first the political approach, then the other approaches) with a view to operationalising a multidimensional evaluation framework for the change processes. The five forces model which was presented in the previous chapter inevitably leads to a new conception of the success or failure of a change project. For a plural explanation, there is now a corresponding plural evaluation. Such is the aim of the present chapter, in which we intend to propose a multidimensional evaluation of change. This evaluation framework will be applied to several cases, in such a manner as to highlight all the benefits of using it. 3.1. From the five forces model to a multidimensional evaluation of change Let us start with the classic planning approach, which is based on clearly setting out formalised objectives to be achieved (increases in productivity, supply times, number of discards and breakdowns, customer complaint statistics, etc.), and which decision-makers seek to optimise in a necessarily predictable environment. In this context, the evaluation consists of comparing the results obtained to the objectives initially set out by the change managers. We will therefore examine the extent to which the change has made it possible to make the expected quantitative or qualitative gains, has kept to the forecast deadlines and budgets, has followed the list of specifications, etc. Where applicable, if adjustments have been made along the way, the evaluation will still consist of comparing the results achieved to the redefined objectives. Numerous objections may of course be raised about this type of evaluation. Changes in variables such as turnover, productivity, costs, etc. are the result of a set of mutually interdependent factors among which it would hardly be reasonable to concentrate solely on the observed impact of the change. Moreover, any analysis of the effects of change depends greatly on the temporal limits that one sets oneself. The results may be very different depending on whether a short or long-term approach is taken. The problem already arises at the start of the change process: the appropriation of new systems gives rise to various processes of trial and error, which represent a considerable loss of time and resources, or at least appear to. The short-term evaluation of the results obtained will therefore probably be disappointing. However, as one moves into the longer term, there is a greater risk of seeing other contextual factors appear in the explanation of the effective results. It then becomes fundamentally impossible to decide on the short-term effects of the change.


The contingent approach then comes to the analysts rescue, as it assesses performance no longer in terms of optimisation of the initial objectives, but in terms of appropriateness to contextual constraints. The performance of a change process will be judged in relation to the arrival of new competitors, the irruption of a new technology or a modification of the regulatory framework - in short, the evolution of the organisations environment. Ultimately, the question is about whether one finds oneself ex post in a situation of improved adaptation to the context. Perhaps the initial deadlines or budget have not been met. Perhaps the objectives for turnover growth or cost reduction have not been achieved. However, if the organisation is now more capable of dealing with certain contextual constraints, because it has solidified its internal processes, is it not possible to speak of success, to a certain extent? It will therefore be a case of appraising the learning capacity that the organisation will have acquired when faced with modifications to its environment. The political approach, based on recognising the plurality of the issues that exist, can obviously not allow the organisation to be analysed as a monolithic whole. In a perspective where organisational resources are limited and stakeholders are constantly challenging each other over control of these resources, any optimisation of certain objectives, pursued by a particular stakeholder group, must be to the detriment of other stakeholders. Consequently, if the change process unilaterally favours the interests of certain stakeholders, its evaluation will logically be negative. On the other hand, the process is more likely to be considered a success if a compromise can be reached by the different protagonists, even if none of them manages to optimise their own interests. The evaluation that results from the political approach is therefore expressed in terms of the joint satisfaction of diverging interests. The incremental approach also abandons the principle of optimisation of the initial objectives by showing that the strategy is most often defined as the process unfolds, by a constant interplay of trial and error, which leads to the de facto introduction of the concept of temporality into the evaluation. Here, the success of the change will be evaluated in terms of its promoters capacity to deal with unforeseen phenomena and to arrange their project around the multiple temporalities that exist in the organisation. The initial project deadlines are unlikely to be met; however the integration of the project into previously existing organisational dynamics indisputably guarantees its longevity, and even its chances of survival. Finally, the interpretativist approach insists on the importance of negotiating an acceptable meaning around the change process, and leads to an evaluation of the leaders ability to integrate it into the stock of knowledge and experience accumulated within the organisation. Success is therefore linked to its promoters capacity for attributing meaning to the change process, and bringing peoples different representations of it in line with each other. It is therefore clear that by combining the indicators derived from these different approaches, we can propose a nuanced evaluation of the change process10. This brings us to the interesting reflection by Morin et al. (1994) on ways of measuring organisational effectiveness.
Table 8: Approaches to change and methods of evaluation 10 We also proposed a similar methodology for a multidimensional evaluation of intervention processes in HRM (Pichault, 2004).


APPROACHES TO CHANGE planning approach contingent approach political approach incremental approach interpretativist approach

METHODS OF EVALUATION degree of achievement of initial objectives degree of appropriateness to contextual variables degree of joint satisfaction of diverging interests degree of arrangement around temporalities and integration of emergent phenomena degree of integration into the stock of knowledge and accumulated experience

Each of these approaches, taken in isolation, offers only a partial view of the change processes, and the evaluation that this offers can only be reductive. Thus, certain objectives may have been achieved without evidence of improved adaptation to the context, or simultaneous satisfaction of various protagonists; peoples interests may have been taken into consideration without this resulting in improved appropriateness to the context or greater integration of emergent phenomena. It is therefore essential to widen the frame of reference to incorporate the various elements covered by each approach respectively: the plans and objectives of the change promoters, the convergence of representations around the change which has been launched, the constraints of the context, the influence of structures and previous decisions whose specific evolutions interfere with the current process and, above all, the interplay between stakeholders, who negotiate with each other constantly to defend their interests, in the context of power relationships. 3.2. Four contrasting cases of change In order to establish all the benefits of a multidimensional evaluation, we propose to start with four contrasting case studies, derived from a set of research-actions that we had the opportunity to conduct with the LENTIC team at organisations based in Belgium. We obviously took care to choose a variety of sectors of activity, sizes and types of change. In three cases (the public administration, air freight company and press agency), we directly monitored the change project by interviewing several dozens of stakeholders at different hierarchical levels, taking part in meetings, making use of available documents, etc. The fourth case (the media group), which covers a change period of around 15 years, was mainly written up using documents (newspapers articles, websites, etc.), based on an initial one-off intervention that could not be continued because of difficulties experienced by the group at the time. By making use of the categories we developed in the first chapter, we can briefly present the four change projects we observed. At the public administration (case no. 1), there was an attempt to individualise the human resources management policy, alongside a stated desire to shift from a machine configuration to a more adhocratic form through business process reengineering. In the media group (case no. 2), the new owner intended to abandon the differentiation strategy that had been in force until that point, with a daily magazine mainly centred around an elite clientele, in favour of a cost leadership strategy that was better suited to overcoming the financial difficulties experienced by the group for several years. Such a change went hand in hand with a modification of the everyday organisational structure, which shifted progressively from the professional configuration (specialist, autonomous operators) towards the machine configuration (freelancers subject to strict formalisation).


At the air freight company (case no. 3), the desire to act in a socially responsible way towards the different stakeholders reflected the wish to shift from a culture of economic efficiency (industrial polity) to a culture of social effectiveness (civic polity), or at least reach a compromise between these two polities. Finally, for the press agency (case no. 4), the issue of change consisted of bringing an integrated information system into general use. 3.2.1. Modernisation of HRM at a public administration (case no. 1) 1. Like many western countries, following the principles of New Public Management, the Belgian federal Government undertook a major reform aimed at radically changing the operating mode of its public administrations, which remained characterised by a high level of task specialisation, respect for procedures and regulations to the letter, a very strict hierarchy, silo functioning, etc. The essential idea underlying this project was to transform the federal public services into modern, customer-focused organisations, with explicit reference to the management techniques used in the private sector, which were likely to stimulate the expected changes. The project, named Odysse, received huge amounts of financial support and appeared as a major political issue, both within the country (the charismatic Minister of Public Reforms wanted to give high visibility to his project) and outside (as Belgium held the Presidency of the European Union for a semester). In this perspective, different initiatives were launched, put together by a myriad of consultants: a new management structure including a strategic committee for each federal department, a management committee with a President appointed for a fixed term of office, strategic units in charge of preparing and evaluating departmental policies; a reduction in the number of hierarchical levels (maximum of 5) and a reallocation of civil servants into 3 principal categories (management committee and experts, intermediary management and employees); stricter financial control over the degree of achievement of quantifiable objectives in each department; an in-depth reorientation of HRM policies towards skills management via rigorous selection and evaluation procedures, a skills-based remuneration system, career flexibility and greater horizontal mobility, competition between applicants from the private and public sectors for positions of greater responsibility (top managers), the general use of fixed-term appointments for these posts with specific objectives to achieve, etc.; significant investment in internal and external communication with a view to ensuring that everyone supported the reform, starting by sending a large-scale questionnaire to all the citizens of Belgium.

2. However, as time went by, there was more and more criticism of the Odysse reform. This was particularly the case for the new remuneration system, which was meant to move away from the seniority principle towards a skills-based regime. According to the initial project, voluntary skills measurements were to be offered to each employee on a regular basis: if they were successful, a competence-related bonus could be added to their basic pay during a certain period; if they failed, they could take the test again the following year. The evaluation was redefined in a similar way: the former rating scales were to be replaced by a complete evaluation cycle, promoting the individual development of each employee. However, such schemes de facto introduced internal


competition among civil servants, contradicting the usual principle of equality of opportunity in the public services. Moreover, they led the most zealous civil servants to break certain basic rules of administrative functioning (in particular requesting permission from superiors, which obviously put them in an awkward position). Numerous tensions appeared in connection with this, relayed by the unions. The schemes in question were finally abandoned two years later by the new Government after the federal elections. 3. Another problem emerged with the posts of the top managers, who were in charge of disseminating a new managerial culture within the administration. A recruitment procedure was launched internally as well as on the external labour market. This led most of the managers in place to apply for these new posts. The applicants had to state their abilities in the areas of leadership, communication, change management, understanding of the context, etc. They underwent a sophisticated selection procedure (assessment centres) organised by a specialist consultant. The selected applicants were hired for a term of 6 years, which could be renewed if they achieved the objectives initially set out. The pay offered to them was in line with that of the private sector: it was therefore linked with the position they occupied, and not performance and/or evaluation results But the new Government did not intend to carry on in this direction: the use of external assessment was considered too expensive and the wage gaps between top managers and other civil servants became politically unacceptable. Several complaints were made to the Council of State about this. A new law was passed, reopening the senior posts to internal progression via a variant of the traditional seniority-based promotion system. The major principles of the Odysse reform were thus progressively abandoned. We should stress that after the end of the Belgian presidency of the European Union, the pressure of the political agenda became much less intense. 4. To gain a better understanding of what was happening at the level of the ministerial departments, we propose to focus on the department in charge of economic affairs, where our team had the opportunity to monitor the process under way. This department employs around 3,000 officials, most of who are grouped together in a new building located in Brussels. A charismatic HR manager from a big international consulting company tried to launch numerous initiatives revolving around skills management. A large staff of young professionals, newly hired at the end of their specialist HRM studies, helped develop tailor-made training initiatives, individual evaluation procedures, etc. With an impressive support staff of external consultants, a business process reengineering (BPR) operation, common to all the federal ministries, was launched: it was in fact a case of redefining the departments core business areas (market regulation, provision of economic data, market development) in a more cross-functional way, in total opposition to traditional hierarchical structures. Many project groups were set up to describe the processes as is and design the processes to be in each core business area, following the new managerial vision set out by the management committee. 5. The HR manager decided to use the new training plan as a lever to establish skills management within their department. In search of methodological support, they contacted our research centre. After a discussion, they acknowledged that their initiative had to be separated into two distinct parts: a classic training plan, which would be based on the BPR operation and the needs expressed by the hierarchy; and a pilot project which would involve us exploring the success factors of the introduction of skills


management into a public service, based on existing skills profiles and individual requests for mobility. 6. After several weeks of intervention, we observed a growing gap between the hyperactive HR staff on the one hand, who held numerous meetings, gave external presentations, gave interviews in professional magazines, won awards, etc. and the directors of operations and civil servants on the other hand, who were more concerned about maintaining the existing structures and the current operating methods. In the end the HR manager announced that they were leaving the department, to everyones surprise. A long power vacuum period then followed (6 months without a DHR), during which the operational baronies grew stronger while HR staff members launched individual initiatives: obtaining dedicated budgets following direct negotiations with the management committee, they received support from external consultants to launch various projects (compiling a skills database, a staff plan quantifying recruitment and skills development needs, etc.) An interim HR manager from within the company was finally appointed but everyone deemed that their capacity for influence should remain very limited. 7. In the meantime, new HRM projects were launched in the wake of the Odysse reform (which had by then been put on standby) by the federal department in charge of the civil service, with the support of other firms of consultants. All the federal departments were supposed to adopt these projects, which consisted mainly of a complete redefinition of the careers of civil servants with a university degree; the implementation of a standardised framework of generic skills required for all positions of responsibility; the introduction of structured interviews with each employee, making it possible to successfully conduct individual evaluations and detect training needs, etc. 8. None of these initiatives was coordinated with the others. Our own intervention concluded that the first priority for the HR department was to stop any new initiatives and make the existing ones more coherent. A growing number of civil servants and directors of operations involved in various project groups, displayed increasing scepticism about the probability of an effective transformation of the operating modes that were in currently in place... The official abandonment of the Odysse reform at the federal level inevitably contributed towards reinforcing such feelings. 3.2.2. Strategic restructuring of a media group (case no. 2) 1. Within a few years, the daily newspaper Libert experienced all kinds of difficulties: shareholder quarrels, resignations, technical catastrophes, falling sales, etc. Sadly this story is typical of the misfortunes of the Belgian daily press. 2. At the groups head office, dust swirled around big advertising signs that cluttered up the pavement. Libert had lost its display window where the rotary presses of the fifties once turned with dignity, seen by passersby and tram drivers. For some time, the new-look newspaper had been printed on brand new equipment, which cost 35 million Euros, in a business park at the outskirts of the capital.


3. Libert (299 jobs including 114 journalists, 75 administrative staff and 110 technicians) was showing a big loss. The board of directors at the CECOPRESS group, the owner of the newspaper, had just concocted a recovery plan. Apart from its morning edition, Libert merged its multiple daily editions into a single edition, which reached the news stands at 6 am at the latest. The newspaper also intended to slightly reduce its number of pages, rationalise the supplements (culture, economy, leisure) and cut the number of journalists through natural departures. 4. Ultimately, it was an in-depth modification of the employment structure that was at stake. Until that point, journalists were usually seasoned veterans specialising in areas such as the economy, international news, sports, etc. They enjoyed great autonomy in their work, given the length of experience and diplomas they all held (90% had university degrees). The average age of staff was quite high. The daily thus boasted some big names in its ranks, whose columns were always keenly awaited and commented on. The journalists had such a level of expertise that on several occasions they had succeeded in anticipating important events in political and social affairs, and publishing in-depth articles on the subject long before Liberts main competitors, thus succeeding in taming a sector where the raw materials are by their very nature unpredictable. Subsequently, more and more journalists were offered freelance status, obliging them to work on a per-job basis and be paid accordingly. No new journalists were being hired. If need be, generalist journalists were used, and paid to write short articles on the various subjects that were assigned to them: most often they were young people who, while complaining of the conditions under which they were thus exploited, were forced to accept this self-employed (freelance) status rather than be unemployed. In the end, declared the manager of the political pages, there will be noone left here but technicians and administrative staff, with swarms of freelancers all around them! 5. It is more of an identity crisis than an economic crisis, summarised a senior member of the editorial team, a leading specialist in Eastern European countries. A sad end to eight very difficult years, during which the CECOPRESS group, the owner of the newspaper, was torn apart by shareholder quarrels and unstable management. The daily was still selling 180,000 copies in 1983. For a long time its circulation fell below 150,000. 6. Morale among the editorial troops was at its lowest point. Psychologically, the journalists never quite recovered from the arrival at CECOPRESS of the French press magnate, Robert Hersant. Initially a simple administrator, the paper-eater later acquired a 40% share. Rightly or wrongly, he cast a shadow that terrified the editorial team, at a company that had been family-owned for over a century. Before he arrived, the members of the Ducarme family, the heirs of the dailys founder, owned all the shares and were directly involved in managing the daily. There was a nagging sense of tenacious, visceral suspicion. Will we still be able to write independently? asked one of the managers of the international economy sections. The sudden resignation of the managing director of the group, A.B., increased the sense of worry. Why did he throw in the towel? To take the blame for the catastrophic launch of the new print works, no doubt. According to other versions, it was also a result of differences with the rest of the groups management. It was claimed that he wanted to preserve the editorial team at any cost, as he was convinced that the ultimate aim of Libert was to provide quality information.


7. Either way, there was a pressing need for recovery measures; of the 10 million euros consolidated profit that the group had made during prosperous times, year in, year out, the daily accounted for one half, and the other was provided by the free circulation papers. Libert going into the red meant that the whole group lost out, especially as other titles were also struggling, while the groups only periodical saw a drop in readership. Despite its money-saving plans, CECOPRESS was not likely to return to profit for several years. However, the modernisation of the print works allowed them to cut a large number of technicians jobs, as multiple tasks were now handled by the machine. At least, that was the financial management teams version of events. For opinions were very different within the printing department: they felt that jobs could have been saved if staff had been redeployed, which would have avoided many problems. This department, where union membership is nearly 100%, has always had a conflictual relationship with the editorial team. At the time of the redundancies, there were plenty of accusations made regarding the journalists: hidden away, they are making us pay for their management mistakes, they wanted to get rid of us, etc. In fact, the new equipment that was installed established the predominance of the IT department, which became the project manager for all the installations, from the journalists computers to the rotary presses. 8. As for the journalists, they were also highly critical of the new print works. They frequently recalled its difficult launch, with repeated hiccups preventing the newspaper from being published on several occasions. The journalists lassitude was particularly noticeable in the face of the tightening of internal regulations. There was no longer any question of spending a single euro without prior permission and proof of purchase. Working time was also more tightly controlled (time clocks were installed at the entrance to the building). The new print works also required rigorous procedures to be followed, in particular concerning article delivery deadlines (one hour earlier) and the form of the articles. Even the subjects of the articles, traditionally handled by specialists in the relevant field, tended to be imposed on the freelancers, who were used more and more often to save money. Most journalists complained about this climate, as their professional autonomy was no longer respected and inappropriate ways of doing things were imposed on them. In response, they were told that if they were not satisfied with their current conditions, they were free to choose freelance status...or go elsewhere. 9. In the current state of confusion, neither management nor the editorial team knew how to position Libert. A.B.s strategy consisted of cornering the market by ensuring that two dailies from the CECOPRESS group were available everywhere. Libert in the upmarket section (an intellectual readership, mainly in the sphere of political and economic decision-makers) and, on a more popular market, a regional daily such as Les Nouvelles. To regain lost ground in the capital, Libert attempted to re-popularise itself a little: several sensational articles had in fact been published recently, about a child abduction case. However, this task was not made easy by an editorial team that was scared by the very word marketing... On a deeper level, Liberts editorial team could not deal with no longer being the driving force in the group. Proof of the editorial teams loss of influence could be seen in the new configuration of the management team. Gone were the days when journalists elected representatives who took part in informal discussions with management to determine the newspapers main orientations: now, a crisis committee gave their opinion on all decisions, from editorial policy choices to the recent


decision to reopen the documentation centre to the external public. These opinions were passed on to the Board of Directors, which made the real decisions. Then the editor-inchief of Libert was in charge of applying the decisions to the journalists and technicians, as well as to the administrative staff. The editor-in-chief therefore acted on behalf of the Board, with little room for manoeuvre. Also around the table were the secretary-general, responsible for audio-visual diversifications, the financial manager, the editor-in-chief of Libert, and P.C., the former head of free circulation papers (a sector whose profit partly offsets the dailies losses), seen by many as the new strong man of the group. He was in favour with the majority shareholder, who in fact supported him when he imposed himself on the committee, in defiance of all the rules of internal promotion. Aged 44, an economist and brilliant orator, unanimously recognised for his personal dynamism, he now occupied the position of sales manager and was closely involved in all the groups new initiatives. The recent departure of A.B. was obviously not unrelated to P.C.s growing role. 10. The fragmentation of power at the head of CECOPRESS which spoke volumes about the groups inability to find a real leader was an old habit of the company. Flashback: the dark years began with a family matter. CECOPRESSs shareholders split into two clans, both heirs of the founder: minority and majority shareholders. Each one reigned over a part of the CECOPRESS group after an agreement was made by the two factions. However, when an administrator was elected, the majority branch preferred to choose the French press magnate, rather than a representative of the minority from the family. Exit the family minority, replaced by Robert Hersant. Without being associated with day-to-day management, he was kept up-to-date on the evolution of CECOPRESS. His henchman, P.C., regularly visited Paris to gather information for him. This continual coming and going between the family shareholders and the financial and industrial groups occurred throughout the country. A real disease of the daily press? All over Europe, family-owned groups gave up, crushed by the intensifying competition from other media and the Internet, at a time when the modernisation of newspapers required major technical investments. 11. However, after an eighteen-year break marked by the departure of many star journalists, who left to found a competing title (Matin Clair), and by the inexorable erosion of the readership, the family shareholders at CECOPRESS decided to buy the 40% share initially owned by the French press baron and sold to the SOCPRESSE holding after his death. This buyout signalled the end of a saga that had lasted nearly two decades, punctuated by clashes and legal action taken by the majority shareholders, opposed to the arrival of the highly controversial French paper-eater, known for his past as a collaborator, tough management methods and contempt for journalists. 12. At the end of the operation, the majority shareholders i.e. the holdings controlled by the three heirs of the Ducarme family owned 100% of CECOPRESS. My initial feeling is an emotional one, admitted the current deputy administrator of the group. It is the satisfaction of having bucked the trend of the big firms eating up the little ones, he added. The new management team intended to give priority to editorial work and organised a General Assembly over several days, bringing together all the newspapers stakeholders. We have finally found our place, declared one of its old journalists. Libert thus returned to its roots by once more prioritising quality information aimed at


an intellectual readership. The haemorrhage of staff departures was finally stopped and a new generation of journalists joined the editorial team. 13. Moreover, CECOPRESS announced that it was about to conclude the buyout of SOCPRESSEs share in Voix du Sud, of which it already owned a 30% share. With the takeover of this French daily, CECOPRESS practically doubled in size. 3.2.3. Towards a culture of social responsibility at an air freight company (case no. 3) 1. The GlobalD company, a European leader in logistics, decided to open its new European sorting centre in a region facing economic difficulties, affected by the loss of many industrial jobs and a majority of jobseekers with few or no qualifications. In search of a site with few environmental constraints, GlobalD eventually responded favourably to the sirens of the regions economic authority, by making massive investments there, with the support of the whole political class and unions. Over 1,000 workers were employed there. 2. The companys activity was highly restricted by the service mission it assigned itself (next-day parcel delivery all over Europe). The central function of the sorting centre, located within an international network operating on a just-in-time basis, intensified this time sensitivity and placed great pressure on operators to be productive. Moreover, the work conditions offered by GlobalD were quite restrictive: work mainly took place at night, on part-time contracts (20 hours a week). The nature of the tasks performed at the sorting centre, which were repetitive and tiresome, encouraged the company to hire a multicultural workforce with few qualifications, which was complicated to manage. The HRM team nonetheless limited itself to simple staff administration: hiring, management of employment contracts, calculation of hours and pay. 3. Five years later, it was time for the companys first assessment. Indeed, when it opened its regional site, the company had undertaken to create a certain number of jobs in exchange for the support of local economic and social stakeholders. At this point it was necessary to check whether the company had kept its promises. Various studies were commissioned by the public authorities to evaluate the extent to which the objectives had been met and the effects of its activity on the regional economy. The results of these studies showed that the company had easily exceeded its initial commitments and that it could still contribute towards creating several hundred new jobs on the site. The company also took the chance to evaluate its own operating income, prior to deciding on additional investments. The data resulting from the internal audits carried out for this purpose showed that the income achieved was significantly better than on the previous site. 4. However, while the results argued in favour of continuing with the project, the company was reluctant to expand its activities, or even maintain them on the site. GlobalDs questioning was linked to a climate of hostility among both internal and external stakeholders, perceived by the management team. The company was thus regularly confronted by a residents lobby group, who were tired of the noise nuisance linked to the night-time activity. Demonstrations, legal action, publicity in the media... The


pressures took various forms. The company also suffered recurring imported strike actions during which the union representatives and workers from other companies prevented access to the sorting centre, wishing to take advantage of the symbolic impact of blocking an extremely time-sensitive site to make sure their demands were heard. At issue was the unconditional support granted to GlobalDs activity by the public authorities, while the other companies in the region faced serious economic difficulties, hence the image attached to the night-time sorting activity in the minds of the strikers: At GlobalD its like Germinal! confided one of the union representatives who initiated these actions, in reference to Emile Zolas story of a coalminers strike in the 1860s. 5. On the internal level, the results of several surveys indicated the staffs low levels of satisfaction and feeling of belonging to the company. This dissatisfaction resulted in a very tense relationship between management and internal union officials, who increased the number of work stoppages and constantly brandished the threat of strikes. In response to these threats, management expressed fears of having to relocate if such actions were to take place... 6. Faced with this contrasting situation, the GlobalD management committee wondered what to do. Some of its more radical members were in favour of a straightforward suspension of the new investment projects. Others felt that the company should make its managerial practices essentially based on following the rules and demands of productivity more flexible by favouring an HRM policy based on negotiation rather than sanctions. However, this progressive approach was resisted by a third clan of managers. They emphasised the specific nature of the constraints on GlobalDs activity, which required a management style which was not compatible with an excessively human style of staff management a solution which they in fact considered to be the root cause of the regions economic decline. In this context of internal disagreement on which options to take, the sites Dutch DHR obtained the consent of his peers to appoint an external party to shed light on the issue with an image survey, as he did not feel able to answer these questions. He made contact with our research centre. His idea was to encourage a socially responsible dynamic within the company, with a view to acquiring the status of preferred employer in the area where it was based, as stated in the groups values... He managed to convince the members of the management committee to move forward by giving the operation a code name, communicated to all the staff, with a page explaining it: GlobalD Outreach. On the issue of the scope of the project (limited to the sorting centre alone? Extended to the whole site, including the aviation part?), the extensive solution was soon chosen, at the instigation of the sites DHR: his argument was that the site truly constituted a single entity in the eyes of most of the staff and the external stakeholders, regardless of how it was divided internally into different entities.

7. The details of this intervention were clearly set out by the sites DHR, both in budgetary terms (a contractual document described precisely the human and financial resources made available by the company) and in temporal terms, undoubtedly with a view to reassuring the reluctant members of the management team. Progress meetings took place every week at first, then every fortnight (at our request), with a steering committee limited to the sites DHR and the recently appointed warehouses DHR; the final output was to take the form of operational recommendations, to be presented to the management committee; feedback sessions would be organised for the interviewees and


the works committee. The whole process was to take 3 months. The time frame and practical details were justified by the need to act quickly, according to management. 8. The mission effectively began but along the way, we learnt that the groups management had finally decided to begin making its new investments, without waiting for the results of our intervention. We thus discovered that the real aim of the intervention was not to help with making a decision on investment, but most probably to convince the groups management to move in this direction. The simple fact of enlisting the help of university players from the region gave the group a kind of guarantee that the local problems were now being taken care of. In the meantime, the sites DHR, the official client of the intervention, announced to our amazement that he was leaving the company, apparently for personal reasons: the warehouses DHR thus became our sole point of contact. He continued to support the process wholeheartedly, which did not stop us from worrying about the risk of a weakening of our internal channel of communication. The progress meetings carried on taking place every fortnight. 9. On the basis of a diversified methodology (survey by questionnaires, interviews with special witnesses, focus groups, document analysis, etc.), we gathered data from the companys multiple stakeholders: public authorities, residents, press, suppliers, unions, supervisory staff, etc. The result was that on the whole, the company was perceived as one that paid little attention to the stakeholders in its management methods. Armed with its multinational dimension and job creation that it represented it would impose its choices without negotiation, keep its partners in a position of inferiority, by constantly restricting their room for manoeuvre in particular, and try to teach a lesson to a region in decline that badly needed investors. To various degrees, the company was considered haughty and autistic by almost all the stakeholders. GlobalD was said to have the gift of cultivating a high level of independence, refusing any long-term involvement, putting great competitive pressure on its suppliers, calculating its involvement in local life as carefully as possible and citing its operational specificities to justify exceptional regimes. All these perceptions contributed towards forming an image of a stowaway that temporarily took advantage of a regions weaknesses for its own benefit, without guaranteeing any contribution to the general good in return. 10. While the union leaders outside of the company acknowledged the companys contribution to creating new jobs, in particular through its massive use of unskilled staff, the on-site representatives had many grievances. These concerned the improvement of working conditions and above all the clarification of staff management principles. In the absence of any coherent, strategic HRM policy, they believed that staff faced a style of management that varied from one situation to another, creating the impression of an arbitrary system and constant diversion from the rules of the game. Apart from working conditions that were made difficult by pressure of time, they deplored the tough line taken by line management in terms of discipline and staff relationships. This situation contrasted with staff management practices at other companies in the region, which were more concerned with the human side of the employment relationship. Workers denounced a quasi-military management style which prevented any medium-term projections, especially in terms of development. Line managers lack of consideration for staff (the managers never shake the workers hands) and recognition of the work carried out (you can count the number of times management have thanked us on the fingers of one hand!) contributed to a high level of staff dissatisfaction.


11. The difficult working conditions due to night work, as well as the staffs difficulty in accessing positions enabling them to supplement the night timetable on a part-time basis, weakened any sense of belonging. Intermediate line managers deplored the lack of consistency of decisions and the short-circuiting to which they were regularly subjected, as the general management team preferred to address the staff directly. Their position ultimately seemed very fragile and not very legitimate in the eyes of staff and management alike. 12. We managed to complete the mission within the deadline and worked with the warehouses DHR to construct a plan for the HRM to evolve towards a more relational model, to be presented to the Management Committee. Our diagnosis and the accompanying action plan initially met with quite a cool reception from the former Operations Director at the sorting centre, who emphasised the technical constraints of the companys business and underlined our lack of knowledge of a market that functioned on a just-in-time basis. In his opinion, the proposed change risked placing a handicap on the company in the face of the competition. The managing director, who initially had reservations, finally declared that the paths for action contained in our report would enable him to fulfil the parent companys mission statement, which valued responsible citizenship. He would soon silence the qualms of the Operations Director, who is now in charge of managing the airline, and would become an advocate for change on the management committee. Soon, the DHR and the new Operations Director at the sorting centre, who were the main people concerned by our report, declared themselves ready to initiate the change in management methods that appeared necessary. They also immediately took a series of measures to this end: creating career paths marking out the stages of professional progression, constituting a coordination function in charge of supporting intermediate line management and putting an end to short-circuiting by general management, training actions at all levels, etc. 13. In only a week, the warehouse DRH steered the feedback sessions for the staff interviewees and the works council. A month later, he communicated the new managerial orientations to all the warehouse staff, by small groups, taking care not to create a time lapse of more than 3 days in the overall dissemination of the information. Thus, he quite skilfully became the real project sponsor in peoples eyes, as well as the guarantor of the implementation of our recommendations. However, the care taken over the communication operations was in contrast with the companys low level of investment to support the planned new measures: these were essentially seen as coming from above and were hardly explained. No particular helpline or faqs type system was set up to accompany their deployment. 14. Two years later, our research centre was called back by the company to measure the impact of the initiatives we had begun. Our staff survey revealed that the new managerial orientations were popular with staff overall. Obviously not all the problems were solved (especially from the residents point of view) and other difficulties appeared (dissatisfaction among intermediate line managers about the limits of the responsibility of the new coordination function, which were not defined clearly enough in their opinion; change of generation of representatives at one of the unions, leading to a sudden toughening of this organisations positions with regard to the difficulty of working


conditions, etc.), however the general feeling was one of a better corporate climate linked to the end of the reign of the arbitrary system: possibilities for progression were now formalised and resources were provided to this end. Moreover, the company had invested more in its economic and social environment, in particular by participating more actively in discussions relating to the regions industrial transformation and sponsoring the local football club. The external partners we met were quick to recognise this investment. 3.2.4. Change of information system at a press agency (case no. 4) 1. This press agency employs around 120 people, including 75 journalists. In fifteen years or so, its technological base has changed profoundly. Computing has progressively been introduced there and networks are now widely used, in both local mode (Intranet) and in relations with the outside world (Internet). 2. Managements aim was to increase productivity (especially in terms of staff) and make the production structures more flexible, in a context of increasing competition, so as to adapt the pace of work to the volume of information to be processed, while diversifying the services offered to customers: now it would be possible to offer tailor-made services to suit the particular wishes expressed by customers (all dispatches indicating a company name, etc.). Gone are the days when the agency contented itself with supplying the same standard product to similar customers (editorial teams at daily newspapers), who then had to carry out the task of customising the information for their own audience. 3. Before computerisation, the redactors role consisted essentially of processing the dispatches that came into the agency by telephone, post or telex. They had to format them (i.e. produce a comprehensible text, if applicable reminding readers of background events) and then translate them into three languages before sending them to the telex operators, who were in charge of sending them to the daily newspapers. The redactors were grouped together by qualification within small, relatively stable teams, specialising in processing particular types of information, regardless of volume: the economists dealt with business affairs, the sociologists dealt with social events, the political scientists dealt with events in national and international political life, etc. Each one had a high level of editorial autonomy, given their specific expertise and multilingual abilities. The problem with this organisation was that it seemed immutable, even though the news gave absolute primacy to certain types of information: it was therefore necessary to hire temporary redactors to deal with any sudden surge in activity in a particular area. 4. As most international press agencies are now equipped with similar technical bases, the information is sent automatically and constantly over the Internet. Moreover, the journalists attached to the agency have access to laptops which enable the information they had gathered to be fed easily into the central processing unit. Moreover, the integrated word processing system handles the automatic sending of the dispatches to the editorial teams at the daily newspapers. This avoids the agency redactors having to transcribe texts many times. 5. The telex operators, whose traditional role has become obsolete, had to be redeployed in a new role: they now make an initial, brief note of the information that continues to


come into the agency by traditional means (post, telephone). Technically, their computers are very similar to those of the redactors: they effectively use the same terminals. However, the content of their work is clearly distinct and has remained fundamentally unchanged since computerisation: it remains limited to a set of unskilled, repetitive tasks (such as typing without formatting). 6. On the other hand, the redactors role has changed noticeably. We have already shown how much their data entry work has been reduced since the beginning of computerisation. Moreover, they are now assigned to different editorial teams every day, which are formed and dissolved according to variations in the volume of information to be processed and above all the particular demands to be satisfied. One day, they might be assigned to international political affairs aimed at the dailies, the next to business affairs on behalf of a particular company. This principle which has indisputably broken their old specialities is aimed at promoting their participation in the functioning of the agency as a whole and imbuing them with a common vision of its activity. According to management, the redactors are generalists and from now on should avoid specialising in a particular area. 7. Until that point, as we have said, the redactors benefited from a lot of room for manoeuvre: the only hierarchical constraint came from the deskers (head redactors) who gave them work to do. Each head redactor managed this distribution of work in complete autonomy. They only met once a week at periodical consultation meetings, in order to maintain a minimum level of exchange between the different teams and ensure that certain common principles were followed. The head redactors were and still are promoted on a seniority basis, as most of them cut their teeth at other press agencies, enabling them to develop their own speciality and acquire a certain legitimacy. However, several of them ended up using their area of autonomy to behave like real little leaders: this ended up exacerbating tensions within their team, with the redactors asserting that these frequent intrusions into their sphere of activities were hard to reconcile with producing work of an intellectual nature. 8. Today, management has taken things in hand again although it is not a strategic decision, strictly speaking and the discretionary power of certain head redactors has been considerably reduced. It is true that within each team, it is still the desker who classifies the news by order of importance, as the news items are added to the database. However, this power is a thin veneer: their teammates are simply informed of the order that they have established and can choose the news item they wish to process in spite of it. If several redactors want to process the same news item, it is the first one to action the reception order who obtains the exclusive right to work on it. Each redactor is therefore free to put together their own schedule and has the time they need to do their work: the system does not impose a particular pace of work, or the nature of the task to be performed. If a redactor does not feel able to process a news item, they draft an initial version which they then pass on to another more competent colleague. Regardless, the redactors become fully responsible for processing the dispatches until they are sent to the dailies, with the desker now only intervening to take a quick look at various technical parameters (text length, key codes, etc.). The exchanges therefore mainly take place between the redactors themselves, whereas before, they involved a constant back-andforth with the head redactor. Fundamentally, in this new form of work organisation, the desker ceases to be a line manager who distributes the work that needs to be done: they


become above all a team leader, acting according to general objectives (respect for editorial priorities) which are assigned to them every day by management when putting the teams together. 9. It is nonetheless interesting to note that, in reality, the tasks are now often distributed between redactors according to criteria negotiated within each team (depending on personal skills, wishes expressed at the start of the day, etc.). This clandestine form of organisation, which is practically haggling, offers the different partners the possibility of maintaining or finding an area of freedom in their work. For the head redactors, it is fundamentally a case of informally reconstituting their old prerogatives (the power to distribute work to the redactors). As we have seen, these prerogatives have tended to be progressively eliminated in the new way of working. Their role is effectively now limited to a task of coordination, more technical than hierarchical. The behaviour that they adopt in total contradiction with the role that they are invited to play in relation to their teammates helps them to regain a certain amount of room for manoeuvre. Moreover, it enables them to reserve the task of writing summaries (a more highly valued activity that generally takes place at the end of the day) for themselves, and to entrust the redactors with the task of formatting the raw information sent by press agencies and correspondents. For their part, the redactors manage to negotiate the slots they wish to work in (which often complement the deskers speciality). This is a way for them to restore value to their activity and preserve certain skills which are being eroded by the current form of work organisation, which is geared towards versatility in terms of functions. Their reaction in fact underlines the ambiguity of the concept of versatility, which is presented to them as a positive thing by management but which is experienced as a form of deskilling. 10. Other clandestine practices can also be observed. Thus, at the beginning of their working day, when taking over from their colleagues, the redactors spend a considerable amount of time reviewing all the dispatches that have arrived in the last twenty-four hours, particularly those concerning the area to which they have been assigned for that day. We have to keep informed, if we want to maintain quality, explain the people in question. This warm-up takes about half an hour to an hour and a half every day, depending on the case. During negotiations with the agency managers, the unions successfully defended the need for this period of preparation, in the name of maintaining the quality of editorial work. Management, keen to maintain a consensual climate within the agency, were forced to accept and even institutionalise this practice, which was created on the job. 11. In addition, it must be acknowledged that the time saved by removing certain stages in the path of information within the agency is frequently offset by the additional reflection and correction work which comes from the redactors. Now, the redactor no longer hesitates to put the finishing touches to their text and modify it as many times as necessary, in a sort of race to excessive quality. 12. Moreover, the redactors have access to a printer which enables them to obtain a hard copy of the text they are processing at any time. In reality, this option is used frequently, particularly when they have to write a summary based on several dispatches and especially when they have to translate a text into one of the national languages. The head of computing may stress the fact that redactors can use a system function that enables


them to subdivide the screen into several areas, in order to view the original text alongside the translation as they work on it. Yet the redactors argue that the work is complex enough to justify the duplication of media and recourse to manuscript practices: the printed copies are therefore annotated before the data is entered as such, which slows down the pace of work considerably. 13. The agencys management were forced to admit that processing dispatches on the screen took longer than before: an average of 10 to 15% longer than the old system of working. Nonetheless, they reminded us that increases in productivity appear if we consider the whole process of processing and sending information, given the removal of certain transcriptions. For them, the situation is therefore positive overall, although not ideal: however they sought above all to avoid a crisis of confidence with their staff. 14. Finally, we should add that the unions managed to preserve the level of employment by endowing the agency with one of the most progressive collective agreements in the press sector. Although the different press groups that make up the agencys shareholders have not shown themselves to be very interventionist so far, the unions took particular care to set an example, to act as a benchmark for the sector as a whole, based in particular on their representatives in the different press groups concerned. They did not hesitate to resort to striking (for a day), a rare event in the agencys history and a particularly sensitive means of action in the sector. The result of their action is especially remarkable given that one of the explicit objectives of the computerisation process was precisely to reduce staff expenses. Admittedly, maintaining the level of employment did take place in the context of a considerable growth in the volume of activity. However, union pressure also led to significant protection being granted to the agencys workers. Thus, according to the agreement signed by management and the unions, no member of staff on an open-ended contract may be made redundant for reasons directly or indirectly linked to the information technologies. Moreover, out of a constant concern to maintain a good corporate climate, management undertook to implement a professional redeployment policy for staff categories whose status and skills were the most under threat: this was particularly the case for the telex operators, who risked seeing their now obsolete function devalued. Finally, several clauses in the agreement explicitly made provision for protecting the journalists function, limiting the control of individual services and maintaining each persons own pace of work. 3.3. Multidimensional evaluation of four cases of change These four cases constitute choice empirical material, which can serve as a basis for our reflection on evaluation. It is now clear that combining different explanatory approaches within the five forces model leads us to a more nuanced understanding of the concepts of failure and success which are usually used when evaluating a change process. 3.3.1. Taking account of stakeholders expectations Lyytinen and Hirschheim (1987) open up very stimulating lines of inquiry in this regard. The authors note that most studies on the subject of information system failure are expressed in terms:


of correspondence (objectives established in advance are not met); of processes (initial budgets are exceeded, there are problems with design, implementation or configuration, etc.); or of interaction (users are dissatisfied, only sporadic or minimal use is noted, etc.).

For their part, they favour an analytical perspective in terms of expectations and representations. Even if the authors comments concern the concept of information system failure, we feel that this can be extended to the evaluation of change processes in general. Firstly, failure or success should be understood on the basis of a correct identification of the type of phenomenon observed (are we evaluating the development or use of a new system?). Finally, they should be measured in relation to the objectives of the various protagonists concerned: the technical prowess displayed by some may go hand in hand with a feeling of profound demotivation among others. Finally, it is a case of seeing them in relation to the influence of multiple factors, relating to the new system itself, its environment, its method of development and the context in which this development takes place. This means that more complex models are necessary, taking account of the variety of problems that are likely to arise, existing interests and potential explanatory reasons: The identification of several stakeholder groups, the environments in which they interact, and the recognition of the active role of various stakeholders in producing IS failures complicates the content of models. The expectation failure concept suggests using multicausal, hermeneutic models instead of the causal models advocated in the mainstream of the IS literature (1987, p. 299). Yet does such a conception not risk leading to a dead end, as the same process may in turn be considered a success or a failure depending on the stakeholders involved? Is it possible to consolidate the stakeholders various representations of it into an overall diagnosis? To explore this question, let us apply this perspective to the case studies set out above. For the public administration in the process of modernising its HRM model (case no. 1), failure seems total for the government, which ended up officially abandoning the Odysse reform as well as the project for the new system of pay and appointment to senior positions. Yet is it not just as much of a failure at a more local level, for the former HR manager in the department in charge of economic affairs, who ended up leaving his job; for the new temporary HR manager who saw his room for manoeuvre limited from the outset; for the directors of operations and civil servants involved in the project groups who, after having believed in the possibility of making their administration less bureaucratic, showed increasing scepticism about the probability of its effective transformation, etc.? At the air freight company (case no. 3), the appraisal of the managerial initiatives in favour of social responsibility varies strongly between groups. Thus, middle management is not happy to be chaperoned by the newly created coordination function; certain union representatives continue to criticise a Taylorian method of work and refuse to talk about the success of the change: the former director of operations at the sorting centre, on the other hand, believes that the freight business requires this type of work organisation and expresses his disagreement with the process that was started. However, the operators and representatives of the other union believe that their demands have been heard and that the rules of the game are now clearer. The DHR and the Director of Operations at the sorting


centre believe that the change project is going in the right direction. General management, initially reluctant then progressively more accepting of the need to engage, recognise the benefits of signing up for a series of initiatives that clearly fit in with the parent companys mission statement. They did not hesitate to silence the qualms of certain opponents, including the former director of operations at the sorting centre. For all these stakeholders, success now involves pacifying the corporate climate by clarifying procedures. The situation of decline that prevailed at the media group (case no. 2) before the arrival of Robert Hersant and the modernisation of the print works had not improved. Despite the optimistic discourse of the financial management team, it had even got worse, given the continuous erosion of the readership, journalists mass departures and the creation of a competing title. Many technicians at the print works were made redundant. Many staff categories expressed dissatisfaction. Therefore the overall result was mainly one of failure. Only the computer scientists could consider themselves winners in the new distribution of roles. However, after an interval of 18 years and the death of Robert Hersant, the minority family shareholders managed to take control of the situation once more; for them and for the journalists who found a choice place in the company, such a reversal of the trend indisputably constitutes a success. The formers newly acquired decision-making autonomy enabled them to return to growth: as for the latter, they are once more central to the groups activity. The management team at the press agency (case no. 4) may well believe that the success of the computerisation process is entirely relative, with reference to their initial objectives of reducing staff costs, however they are forced to admit that the overall productivity of the agency is growing. Likewise, the IT manager may well object to the increasing number of hard copies that redactors are using, given the possibility they have of subdividing the screen into several parallel areas, however they must acknowledge that redactors are using the new tool effectively. Redactors may emphasise the maintenance of their professional skills and the possibility of refining the quality of their texts. The editors-in-chief, for their part, may be pleased that they have succeeded in preserving their hierarchical prerogatives (distribution of work), while also benefitting from exclusive access to the most noble part of the job, etc. From the union point of view, the computerisation of the agency has become a model that should inspire the whole press sector. We note that by taking account of expectations and representations, which are indisputably part of a political approach to change, we can access an overall diagnosis of the process under examination: the computerisation at the press agency indeed appears to be a greater success overall than the modernisation of HRM at the public administration. We will return to this in the next point. On the methodological level, we must stress the fact that expectations and representations do not necessarily lead to verbal expression from the various groups concerned. We should nonetheless be attentive to the concrete practices and informal balances that characterise the everyday life of the organisation: all these factors must be seen in relation to the objectives pursued by the different stakeholder groups involved. If a group that is threatened by a rationalising project manages to maintain or regain its margin of freedom (the journalists at the media group for example), in a way they have succeeded in appropriating the change. In our opinion, it is therefore not essential to systematically resort to interviewing the different stakeholders concerned to gain a view of the diversity of expectations and


representations: such interviews risk focussing mainly on a posteriori justifications, selflegitimising attitudes and defensive reactions that risk leading the researcher to underestimate or, on the contrary, to overestimate the importance of certain positions. 3.3.2. From consideration of expectations to a multidimensional evaluation Now we can continue on from the previous reflections by taking the various evaluation perspectives derived from the five forces model and applying them to the four case studies. From the point of view of the planning approach, we may consider that the change ended in failure at the public administration undergoing modernisation, and at the press agency, as well as at the end of the first period of change at the media group: the change promoters initial objectives were indeed not met. On the other hand, these objectives seem to have been more successfully achieved at the air freight company and during the second period at the media group. From a contingent perspective, which favours the degree of appropriateness to contextual variables, the evaluation of the four cases is very different: the managers in charge of modernisation at the public administration thought they could start from scratch regardless of the specific constraints of the civil service, but they barely adapted to the specificities of their context; the air freight company integrated into its immediate environment more successfully; the media group was initially unable to deal with the structural obstacles of the sector (underlying fall in readership, competitions from other media, etc.) but finally managed to overcome them during the second period; the press agency succeeded in dealing with the changes in its market by absorbing a greater volume of business and responding to customer demand for diversification. By following the incremental approach, which appraises the degree to which temporalities are connected and emergent phenomena are incorporated, we can understand how the unbridled modernisation process at the public administration, with its incoherent series of initiatives, may be seen as a failure. The managers at the media group also showed themselves unable to deal with hiccups at the new print works, and allowed an acute crisis situation to develop around their project for over eighteen years! The air freight company managed to combine long-term managerial initiatives in favour of social responsibility with its short-term operational constraints. The management team at the press agency were aware of the need to take account of the specific dynamics of the journalism sector, and consequently agreed to redefine their initial project. According to the political approach, which we have already explored in the previous section, the joint satisfaction of diverging interests does appear to be present at the press agency (redactors, deskers, unions and management succeeded in protecting their essential interests) and at the media group during the second period of change (the family shareholders regaining control of the newspaper and the return to a central position for journalists); it seems more relative in the case of the air freight company (the managing director, DHR, Operations Director at the sorting centre, operators and representatives at one of unions believe that the operation reinforced their interests; whereas management and representatives at the other union consider themselves to have lost out or, at the very best, that the situation has remained unchanged); it becomes non-existent in the case of the public


administration and at the media group during the first period, during which no stakeholder appeared to win (except for the computer scientists at the media group). The following table summarises the different situations of joint satisfaction.
Table 9: Application of the criteria of joint satisfaction of diverging interests in the evaluation of a change process INTERESTS OF CHANGE MANAGERS Satisfied Satisfied INTERESTS OF OTHER STAKEHOLDERS Dissatisfied Press agency (case no. 4) Media group 2nd period (case no. 3) Air freight company (case no. 2) Dissatisfied Media group 1st period (case no. 3) Public administration (case no. 1)

Referring to the interpretativist approach, the modernisation of the public administration reflects an inability to manage the identity clash between the new managerial culture (which falls under the category of the market polity with its insistence on contractualisation, reward, etc.) and the reference to the principles of equity (linked to the civic polity), applying to civil servants. The reform is therefore not easily integrated into the stock of experiences and knowledge accumulated at the administration. A similar clash took place at the media group, this time between an excessive rationalisation attempt (industrial polity) and the journalists commitment to professional excellence (inspiration polity); but the new management team took the measure of this commitment to excellence and placed it back at the centre of their redeployment project. At the air freight company, the social responsibility project (fame polity) hardly fitted in with the representations of the management team: however, it progressively imposed itself as the obvious choice. Nonetheless, the representatives of one of the unions still do not see any sense in it, taking account of the difficult working conditions. At the press agency, management understood the benefits of toning down their initial project to control the redactors pace of work and make their function more versatile, in response to the diversification of demand (industrial and market polities), in favour of a compromise between overall growth in productivity (industrial polity) and commitment to professional excellence (inspiration polity). This made the change project more acceptable. The next table, which summarises our assessment of our four case studies, shows the extent to which the multidimensional evaluation enables us to gain a nuanced vision of the success or failure of a change process.
Table 10: A multidimensional evaluation of the four case studies Planning Public administration (case no. 1) Media group (case no. 2) - => + Contingency - => + Incrementalism Political => + Interpretativism - => +


Air freight company (case no. 3) Press agency (case no. 4)

+ -

+ +

+ +

What should we remember from this chapter? The five forces model leads to a new conception of evaluation, which necessarily becomes multidimensional. Applying it to four contrasting case studies helps us to demonstrate the purpose and benefits of such an evaluation. The success observed on the basis of a particular approach may thus be counterbalanced by the failure perceived when following another approach, which enables us to offer a far more nuanced appraisal of the change process. But what are the predictive capacities of such a model? Apart from reporting on what has happened and observing ex post the effects of change, does the model help us to formulate any hypotheses that may throw light on the particular stories of change ex ante by drawing on more general trends? We will attempt to answer this question in the next part of our reflection.


4. A PROCESS TO BE ANTICIPATED In this chapter you will find: - a distinction between contextual variables (influence systems), over which managers generally have little control, and steering variables (management styles), which are more characteristic of their action; - a development of four possible scenarios of evolution, combining influence systems and management styles; these four scenarios range from an approach based on perpetuation to one of innovation, through adaptation and dissidence; - a critical discussion of the hypothesis of congruence, which argues in favour of adapting the management style to the influence system concerned. The four case studies that were the subject of a multidimensional evaluation in the previous chapter will continue to serve as a basis for our reflection. Indeed, we will attempt to show that the five forces model enables us to anticipate the way a change process is likely to unfold, to a certain extent, and thus avoid the accusation of integral relativism that some might be tempted to level at it (see chapter 2). Let us be clear: we are not ignoring the fundamentally unpredictable nature of any change process. We are simply stating that by using the five forces model, we can place ourselves in a position to set out possible scenarios of evolution, based on a given situation. Developing more or less probable scenarios may be helpful with any management activity, providing it is not intended to be completely improvised. Moreover, it enables the change manager or promoter to attempt to act in an enlightened manner. If the latter undertakes a particular action, it is because they favour a particular scenario, more or less explicitly: in other words, they anticipate that the change process will unfold in a certain way. Therefore it is useful to systematise these scenarios of potential evolution in order to help with decision-making, 4.1. The predictive capacities of the five forces model By first basing ourselves on the contingent approach, we can underline the predictive potential of the contextual variables, in particular those that are characteristic of the internal context. It naturally follows that the internal context does not act directly and mechanically on the course of a change process: indeed, the latter involves interpretations by stakeholders, who have interests to defend and consequently develop strategies. Nonetheless, in a strictly contingent perspective, this context constitutes a power, which allocates resources, attributes positions to the different stakeholders present, structures their relationships and inevitably marks the strategies they develop. With regard to this, we propose to distinguish between two main types of influence system: centripetal systems (characterised by a concentration of power) and centrifugal systems (marked by a dispersion of the poles of power). We will start by elaborating this distinction on the basis of organisational contexts and then illustrate it using other variables that are characteristic of the internal context.


If we refer to the typology of configurations developed by Mintzberg (1982)11, we can see that some of them concentrate power in the hands of a stakeholder group which thus constitutes the centre of the organisation (strategic apex, middle line or analysts), whereas others see power as being more diffused towards the periphery of the organisation, which is especially the case in the presence of skilled operators. In the first case, we above all risk being faced with relatively unskilled operators who undergo close surveillance, or have to follow highly predetermined work procedures; in the second, there is a greater chance of encountering skilled operators, even professionals, whose capacity for initiative and involvement are essential for carrying out the basic missions of the organisation12. Organisational contexts with a centripetal influence system include the entrepreneurial configuration (or simple structure), machine bureaucracy and missionary configuration. In the entrepreneurial configuration, power is centralised in the hands of a charismatic leader and work is coordinated by direct supervision. In the classical machine bureaucracy, power belongs more to the analysts and coordination is achieved by standardising procedures to a great extent. The divisionalised variant of the machine bureaucracy is often the result of an organisation growing and diversifying in the form of more or less autonomous divisions, with a concentration of power at the superior levels of the middle line and leadership of the firm, and where the dominant coordination mechanism is standardisation of results13. The missionary configuration is based on an apparent decentralisation: operators effectively seem to benefit from relative autonomy of action; however, the strong ideological influence to which they are subjected restricts this apparent room for manoeuvre to the confines of the values standardised by the analysts (Nizet and Pichault, 2001). Organisations with a centrifugal influence system include the professional configuration (highly decentralised, with prior standardisation of qualifications, checked upon entry into the organisation) and adhocracy (more centralised at the level of strategic decisions, with very flexible coordination of work, achieved through mutual adjustment between experts who enjoy a high level of autonomy in their operational decisions and work on specific projects in multi-disciplinary teams).


As shown in an article summarising the main tenets of organisational sociology, we note a certain convergence between the various typologies of organisational structures presented in the literature (Lammers, 1990). 12 Here we are moving away from the distinction set out by Mintzberg in an earlier work (1986). The author tends to consider that the dispersion of the poles of power is not only encountered within organisations with skilled operators, but also when political games become intense (the organisation is then described as a political arena). Apart from the tautological character of this definition (an organisation is a political arena when dominated by political games), we do not believe that it enables us to characterise a particular type of structure: the author himself states that the political area is more a temporary state in the life of an organisation, particularly when it is in a situation of structural transition. 13 This characteristic is clearly present even though one might think that divisionalisation tends to disperse the poles of power by reinforcing the divisions autonomy. As Mintzberg notes: That word [decentralized] refers to the dispersal of decision-making power in an organization, and in many of the diversified corporations much of the power tended to remain with the few managers who ran the businesses (...). In fact, I would argue that it is the centralization of power within the divisions that is most compatible with the divisionalized form of structure (1989, pp. 157-158).


In the case of centripetal influence systems, it is personal or bureaucratic control that acts as a foundation for the distribution of power. In the case of centrifugal influence systems, it is more the specialised skills of the operators that play a key role, at least if we exclude situations of straightforward decline14. In both cases, we find power games between the different categories of stakeholders, with varying degrees of intensity, however the nature and scope of these games differ according to the type of configuration. By analogy, this reasoning may be transposed to the case of interorganisational partnerships15. We have already underlined above how much the nature of the network depends on the symmetry of power relationships between its various components (Rorive, 2005): in the case of an asymmetric relationship, where an ordering party clearly dominates the other service providers, we can talk of a centripetal influence system; in the case of a more symmetrical relationship, where the different components of the network have a similar capacity for influence, the system will instead be described as centrifugal. A similar distinction may be made with other variables that characterise the internal context of the organisation: organisational culture, HRM policy strategy, type of technology or information system. Organisational cultures relating to the industrial, civic or domestic polities are more likely to be assimilated into centripetal influence systems: supporting the values they are based on requires conforming to an order, be it personal (domestic polity), hierarchico-technical (industrial polity) or moral (civic polity). On the other hand, cultures linked to the inspiration (openness to creativity), the market (individualistic opportunism) and the fame (renown among a large number of people) polities are similar to centrifugal influence systems in that they allow for a variety of itineraries and are characterised by a high level of fluidity. Cost leadership strategies above all involve a resource rationalisation approach, based on a strong hierarchical principle (centripetal influence system), whereas differentiation strategies make more room for internal plurality by favouring constant innovation and the development of tailor-made answers to external requests (centrifugal influence system). In terms of human resources management, with arbitrary, objectivising and value-based policies, the decision-making power lies in the hands of the leader or functional specialists; with individualising or conventionalist policies, there is a certain decentralisation of this type of decision-making, with operators fully or partially involved in managing their own human resources.


This distinction is not far from that presented by Zald and Berger (1978), between hierarchical organisations on the one hand and federal and professional organisations on the other. In the former, the units and facilities are owned by the group legitimated as the corporate office. That is, legitimate authority resides in the center (e.g., with board of directors or chief executive officers) (1978, p. 832). In the latter, on the other hand, the units (...) have clear property rights and discretion which is established in the constitution of the focal organisation (and possibly backed up by force of law). Moreover, they may have legitimate rights in the selection of executives and the establishment of policy. (1978, p. 832). 15 Elsewhere we have discussed the benefits of such a transposition based on the in-depth analysis of a call centre working on behalf of a third party (Pichault, 1998).


Mass or continuous technologies on the one hand, and centralised or integrated information systems on the other, follow a centripetal pattern: individual room for manoeuvre is heavily restricted by a strict predetermination of most operational acts. Unit-based technologies and deconcentrated or open information systems allow for greater latitude of action from this point of view, either by leaving more room for human intervention and diversity of applications, and are consequently more similar to a centrifugal pattern. The following table summarises the distinction between the two types of influence system.
Table 11: Centripetal and centrifugal influence systems Characteristics of the internal context Configurations Interorganisational partnerships Organisational cultures Strategies HRM policies Production technologies Information systems Centripetal influence system entrepreneurial, machine, missionary networks where power relationships between components are asymmetrical industrial, civic, domestic polities cost leadership arbitrary, objectivising, value-based mass, continuous centralised, integrated Centrifugal influence system professional, adhocratic networks where power relationships between components are symmetrical inspiration, market, fame polities differentiation individualising, conventionalist unit-based deconcentrated, open

The different variables summarised above enable us to qualify not only the main orientation of the change taking place (evolution towards a more centripetal or, on the contrary, a more centrifugal influence system overall), but above all the context in which it emerges. They may in turn be more or less reinforced by the characteristics of the external context. A high level of competitive pressure will thus favour the centripetal tendency (Lawrence & Lorsch, 1989); a national culture founded on individualism will probably encourage the opposite tendency (Hofstede, 1991). The characterisation of the internal context already enables us to determine certain conditions for a successful change project. By following the stipulations of the contingent approach, we can easily understand how an attempt to individualise HRM in a machine configuration, marked by a cost leadership strategy and mass technology, probably has less chance of succeeding than one conducted in an adhocratic context, whose values refer to the inspiration polity and whose information system is of the open type. In other words, the context constitutes a space for games to be played and defines a horizon of possibility, into which change will fit. However this is not the whole story: while the context may influence the results of a change process, these results are nonetheless largely dependent on the way the change itself is introduced and steered. It is in fact highly likely that a change process conducted in a sequential manner, conforming to objectives defined previously by the managerial team (planning approach), in rationalisation mode intensification of the pace of work, reduction in staff costs, tightening of controls , ignoring the interests of the stakeholders involved and their capacities for mobilisation (political approach), where there has been no symbolic investment in giving it an acceptable meaning (interpretativist approach), paying no attention to the processes launched previously and their respective temporalities (incremental approach), will not produce the same effects as a change managed in a more


iterative way, through various negotiations and compromises (political approach), where efforts are made to promote a collective appropriation of the project (interpretativist approach) and a connection of this project with processes launched previously (incremental approach). The way that change managers steer the process is the issue here. We will now discuss their management style, oscillating between a panoptical pole16 and a polyphonic pole17. The planning approach may be considered as the primary theoretical foundation of the panoptical temptation, with the other approaches being hid under a bushel, in a way. The latter are mobilised to a greater extent by the polyphonic management style, with the political approach now serving as the principal frame of reference, in that the predominant role of the power relationships is fully recognised. We must not confuse the political approach and the polyphonic management style. The political approach to change analyses the managerial intention panoptical or otherwise and the power games it gives rise to. The polyphonic management style refers, amongst other things, to the way that change managers take account of the diversity of rationalities involved as well as the power relationships that express them. If they ignore the latter or minimise their importance in favour of a rationalising vision, it will be more appropriate to speak of a panoptical management style. In other words, the world views of the change managers are the issue here: we should note that one of these conceptions refers above all to a visual metaphor (seeing all, controlling all) while the other refers more to an auditory metaphor (several voices in dialogue). If change managers succeed in combining their project with the enacted environments of the organisations members and orient the selection activity so it does not operate in an overly

The expression refers to Benthams concept of prison organisation. It is presented as follows by Foucault in his history of the evolution of methods of surveillance and punishment: at the periphery, an annular building; at the centre, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring (...). All that is needed, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower and to shut up in each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker or a schoolboy. (1975, pp. 201-202). This way of structuring space has a central aim: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary (...). An important arrangement, as it automates and de-individualises power (...). He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection (1975, pp. 202-204).

The term refers to the musical concept, which Bakhtin extends to literature with reference to the combination of several voices in the same work, each one having its own melody. The transposition of this concept to organisational life by Hazen (1993) argues for an understanding of the intersubjective dynamics in change management: Polyphony and dialogue are metaphors for organizational change based on sound rather than sight. They support inclusive change as they help us to hear living organizations or people who speak with one another in their own voices (1993, p. 24). This term has since inspired numerous works, including the recent issues of the Organization Studies review (vol. 29, no. 4), which devotes a special section to it. Of particular interest is the article by Sullivan and McCarthy (2008), which stresses the way each discourse is anchored in lived experiences, reflecting changing identities, particularly in the context of a major organisational change. Under these conditions, polyphony becomes synonymous with constant dialogue, and even confrontation between different categories of discourse: [Polyphony] underlines the established need for communication in organizations (). This could involve bringing voices together that would not normally meet and allow them to collide, publishing these collisions, bringing the stakeholders outside of their ordinary organization roles in away-days (). This will inevitably lead to a clash between the official and unofficial faces of the organization (p. 539).


restrictive manner (interpretativist approach), negotiate compromises which are acceptable to the different protagonists (political approach), and connect the project with previous initiatives and their evolutions (incremental approach), they will undoubtedly achieve a change that will bring innovation, even if they will soon have to admit that they are not the masters of the game that is unfolding, nor are they able to anticipate the particular characteristics their project will take on. However, if they are not able to perform this task of collective interpretation or connect the project with the multiple temporalities of other projects taking place at the organisation, if they only see change as a means of rationalisation founded on blind faith in the virtues of planning, and if they do not make the effort to construct a common interpretation of the process, they will probably condemn their project to having little impact on the reality of the organisation, and only producing effects of limited significance. We have just stressed the essential role of managers in change management: this is not to imply that change strategy is simply a result of the orientations adopted a priori by these managers: in fact it is constructed through trial and error, staff reactions, problems encountered, evolutions of context, etc. There is therefore no typical pattern, ready-made procedure or guide to a successful change. On the contrary, each organisation produces its own change process and the markers that guide it are specific to each situation. To sum up, two key variables have predictive potential in the five forces model: the influence system (characteristic of the contingent approach) and the management style (which combines the planning, political, incremental and interpretativist approaches). 4.2. Scenarios of evolution To show the extent to which these two key variables can be used to build scenarios of evolution, we will base ourselves on the four case studies set out in the previous chapter. By looking at the nature of the influence system and the chosen management style, we can indeed see that the changes all took place under very different conditions. These case studies are of course chosen examples, designed to specify the scope of our model, and not proof of any general theory. We are above all concerned with exploring the diversity of scenarios that are liable to appear, without attempting to carry out any kind of statistical count. The conclusions that we will draw will therefore have the status of hypotheses to be tested systematically at a later date, and not theoretical proposals that have been borne out by the facts. The public administration and the sorting centre at the air freight company are indisputably cases of centripetal influence systems. At the public administration, there is a strong vertical and horizontal division of labour, and procedures are strictly standardised; the hierarchy is cumbersome, inter-unit compartmentalisation is very pronounced and decisions are made centrally. At the sorting centre, the work is repetitive and heavily predetermined, and the operators have little room for manoeuvre; here again, decisions come from the top, to the point of short-circuiting the intermediate hierarchical levels. On the other hand, the media group and the press agency, which employ skilled operators, no doubt originally had centrifugal influence systems: the journalists occupied a choice position there as experts, benefited from great autonomy, and had a direct influence on decision-making (through the representatives they elected). The context would later evolve


at the media group, however: the arrival of Robert Hersant transformed it into a more centripetal influence system...before it returned to a more centrifugal way of working when the original family owners bought all the shares. We should acknowledge that the influence system is hard to modify by managerial intervention: indeed, the contingent approach reminds us that it is above all the expression of the influence of several variables, such as the existing organisational configuration and corporate culture, the HRM policy in force, the business strategy practised, the type of technology in place, etc. To this extent, the influence system, despite being the product of power relationships between stakeholders, may be considered a constraint on managerial action. This leaves us with management style. This is one of the only areas where managers can take action. Their room for manoeuvre is limited, as a result of the existing influence system among other things, but it is real. Managers are therefore likely to modify the rules of the game that is being played by resorting to the political approach (interests involved), incremental approach (history of the company and dynamics of processes launched previously) interpretativist approach (collective meaning of the change) and even, under certain circumstances, the planning approach (definition of the objectives to be achieved). Of course, we should not assume that they can manipulate the symbols and values as they wish in order to make members of the organisation share their views: change will always be marked by conflicts of rationality and contextual factors that will make the process fundamentally unpredictable and uncontrollable. Nonetheless, the management styles adopted by managers are liable to encourage very different logics of evolution. 4.2.1. Perpetuation or adaptation In an organisation with a centripetal influence system, we can expect to find unskilled operators. This does not mean that they do not develop implicit expertise, in an informal manner. Paradoxically, the standardisation of procedures, for example, relies on operators goodwill to constitute an effective coordination mechanism, yet it reduces their room for manoeuvre: without their spontaneous and implicit investment, without their tricks and hidden initiatives, the organisational mechanism could not run smoothly. As noted by Jones and Wood (1984), maintaining these tacit qualifications is particularly vital to an organisations survival during a change process. However, such competences are obviously not considered and recognised as legitimate. Therein lies the ambiguity of the term qualification, which refers to the abilities required to occupy a role as well as the implicit expertise built up on the job by operators. However, for the operator who possesses it, this expertise is also a source of power, especially as it enables them to establish a central bond of dependence with the organisation, which is difficult to replace (Hickson et al., 1971; Crozier, 1971). Consequently, the question of expertise will most probably determine the fate of a change process. Since change is often synonymous with control and restriction of operators room for manoeuvre, it is not surprising that the latter resist in the face of something they perceive as a threat to their expertise. The famous resistance to change, so frequently cited when explaining the human problems encountered during a change process, therefore makes complete sense, as Crozier and Friedberg explain:


The concept of resistance to change, about which so much has been written, especially in organisational literature, should be removed from our vocabulary. It is not that there are no cases of resistance. Rather, these are most often merely an expression of stakeholders perfectly reasonable and legitimate appraisal of the risks posed to them by any change that is designed without their involvement and is aimed first and foremost at rationalising their behaviours, that is, making them more predictable and removing their sources of uncertainty (1977, pp. 29-30, note). The operators implicit expertise, in spite of its usefulness to the organisation, presents a potentially subversive aspect in that it is opposed to the very principle of rationalisation which leads many managers to be relatively suspicious of it. Keen to reduce its importance, most of them will attempt to engage in new rationalisation attempts and will naturally come to consider change from a perspective that we have described above as panoptical. In a way, this is a vicious circle: the more emphasis is placed on rationalisation, the greater the chance that the operators will reject and refuse the innovation, as they see their implicit expertise denied, and the more likely management will be to increase the rationalisation18. This initial case seems to support the logic of perpetuation. The Odysse reform project at the public administration (case no. 1) clearly fits in with this logic of extensive rationalisation: tighter financial control, a rigorous selection and evaluation process, fixed-term appointments with quantitative results to achieve, business process reengineering, etc. The accumulation of these various initiatives, which often served to advertise the scheme, was a source of great tension. It came up against reserved attitudes among the civil servants, repeated complaints to the Council of State, union demands and, ultimately, the official abandonment of the reform. Yet does this necessarily mean that a change process carried out at an organisation with a centripetal influence system is doomed to fail? Not at all. Indeed, it is perfectly possible that following a learning process, the change managers might end up abandoning their rationalising illusions and play a more polyphonic card, not just by acknowledging the existence of implicit expertise but by intervening in the game themselves, by constructing relationships of alliance or balance between the different stakeholder groups, by legitimising the process via communication actions with high symbolic value, by taking care to take previously launched dynamics of change into account, by proceeding more by trial and error, etc. At that point another logic appears, which is no longer that of perpetuation, yet does not constitute an innovation strictly speaking: let us call it the logic of adaptation, insofar as it requires the parties involved to progressively adjust, within the same organisational mould. In effect, the initiative continues to belong to the groups that hold all the power, that is, management and their allies. We should therefore not expect compromises or relationships of balance to lead to fundamentally new operating methods. It is more a case of individual improvements and solutions to local problems than radical organisational innovations. An


The existence of this vicious circle has already been noted by Merton (1968, pp. 249-260) when demonstrating the tendency of organisations to react to dysfunctions caused by the rigidity of their impersonal rules (in their contacts with the public or customers) by producing new rules which are just as impersonal.


example of this would be the establishment of career paths or training programmes at the air freight company (case no. 3). Such a three-player game (most often involving the strategic apex, middle line and operational centre) clearly illustrates the regulation dynamic described by Alter (1985). The latent conflict between those he calls the innovators (operators who deviate from the existing systems through alternative uses) and the administrators (middle management who are keen to ensure that official procedures are followed) grows to the point where it requires intervention from management. The latter most often legitimise the innovators deviant practices, while trying to contain them within certain limits: Company management teams intervene as an essential third party on the site of the struggle. They support the Innovators, who represent the living forces of the economic logic of the post-industrial company, while limiting their advances; to achieve this, they partly protect the Administrators in such as a way as to maintain a level of social control over the institution. Management teams therefore represent an essential form of regulation in the innovation system: they ensure the continuity of the production process while avoiding excessive deviations. It is also they who translate the inventive practices of the groups that instigate change into rules (1985, p. 187). However, from the moment the management style adopted by the project managers leads them to consider the operators as stakeholders in the strategic sense of the word, the situation begins to evolve whether consciously steered in that direction by management or not towards a level of recognition of the operators expertise, in other words, towards a centrifugal influence system. Such an evolution does not lead to participative procedures simply being put in place for users to express their wishes and suggestions, as people too often tend to believe: indeed, these procedures require a prior consensus most of the time, which has little chance of being achieved here. It is more a case of officialising the existence of the cluster of expertise, and thus power, across the organisation. In management practices, this is the difference between the concept of a simple agent and that of a stakeholder strictly speaking. In the case of the air freight company (case no. 3), it took a short, sharp shock provided by the image survey for management to take such an attitude. For this company, the investment in social responsibility reflects the progressive shift from a panoptical management style, justified up to that point by the operational demands of the sorting centre activity, to a more polyphonic management style, which is able to take account of the expectations and interests of its different stakeholders, combine its long-term project with immediate operational constraints, and progressively create a shared meaning around the project. In the long term, maintaining such a management style could contribute towards transforming the influence system in place at the air freight company... 4.2.2. Dissidence or innovation Now let us discuss organisations with a centrifugal influence system. Here, operators expertise is official and legitimised: it is one of the essential conditions for the organisation to carry out its core business. The presence of professionals whose competence is recognised, unlike the implicit expertise of operators in a centripetal influence system, whose standards of practice are established


and evaluated by peers and not by any interest group within the organisation seems to guarantee greater stakeholder involvement in change. On this subject, in his typology of political games in the area of change, Mintzberg makes a distinction between strategies that are likely to involve specialists and non-specialists. According to the author, the former are the most able to invest in the process that has been launched: Specialists those who have effectively acquired very advanced knowledge and skills practise these games in an offensive spirit, thoroughly exploiting their assets, drawing attention to the unique features of their knowledge and know-how, and underlining the importance of these features to the organisation and the impossibility of replacing them (1986, p. 283). The latter, particularly when they possess no legitimate expertise, are happy to ape the former, still according to Mintzberg, by trying to have their work recognised as a specialist task. While we agree with the author on the very principle of the distinction between strategies deployed by specialists and non-specialists, we wish to move away from the analysis he provides, as we feel that it is hardly based on empirical evidence. Rather, here we propose to make a distinction based on the way that change is perceived or constructed by various people, and to this end we will be referring to the interpretativist approach. Experts possess the necessary assets to inflict a severe defeat on any attempt at panopticism, and even prevent it from appearing (Dovey & Fenech, 2007). They will always manage to explain to managers that the complexity of their work, the mission they fulfil for the customers or the interdependence of their activities is incompatible with a project aimed at appraising performance, cutting costs and formalising procedures. Many studies are in agreement on this. As early as 1980, Ginzberg showed how rationalising systems which attempt to impose formal rules and procedures to control organization members, are essentially inconsistent with organic/informal organizations and will be resisted (1980, p. 376). If the organisation is also operating in a context which is hard to predict, experts arguments will be all the more robust in order to justify their refusal of any attempt at rationalisation. The case of the media group (case no. 2) clearly illustrates the opposition between the new shareholders desire for rationalisation and journalists attempt to maintain their sphere of professional autonomy. For a long time, Robert Hersant and his henchman, P.C., seemed to be winning this challenge. Conflicts between journalists and other stakeholder groups (computer scientists, print works technicians) were also exacerbated: the former effectively lost influence to the latter, who became the central stakeholders as operators and analysts of the new organisation. Progressively, the influence system was transformed, ceasing to be a special place for the journalists to exercise their power of expertise, and becoming increasingly centripetal with the formalisation of work processes and the centralisation of decision-making within the crisis committee and in the hands of the dominant shareholder. The situation met all the conditions for the appearance of dissidence, which finally came to pass19. A great many staff followed the managing director and left the company, including

In another context, to refer to professionals reactions when faced with the arrival of an information system essentially characterised by a desire to control, Pav (1982) developed the concept of the Katangese effect: This is a test of strength in which a fraction of the population seeks to assert its autonomy and independence


some of the newspapers big names. After having tried to use their voice, they opted to exit (Hirschman, 1972). Nonetheless, after the death of Robert Hersant, the situation would turn around and the minority family shareholders would end up buying the shares which had passed over to the enemy, with a view to reinjecting the original spirit into the business The transformation of the company into a printing firm was therefore temporarily stopped: the journalistic activity could regain its rightful place. The influence system became centrifugal again, while the organisation of general assemblies for newspaper staff was a first step towards a more polyphonic management style. At first glance, the initial situation of the centripetal and centrifugal influence systems seems relatively similar. Indeed, in both cases, we see phenomena of rejection, which generally punish the outright failure of the initial project and contribute towards maintaining a status quo situation (logic of perpetuation). Nonetheless, we can observe that in a centrifugal influence system, the reactions of rejection lead to hybrid situations (for example, the simultaneous creation of a competing title at the press company): a fragile balance is then established between the central power and the periphery, the outcomes of which are fundamentally uncertain (abandonment of the initial change project? Brutal imposition?). Admittedly, if the managers are persistent, we may see a progressive shift from the centrifugal influence system towards a centripetal system, like at the media group. The fact remains that the logics at stake are different. Here we suggest talking about a logic of dissidence, bearing in mind that this may shift towards a logic of perpetuation at any time. Obviously a final possibility remains, which we indicated at the start of our paper: the managers, aware that they are dealing with professional operators, abandon their panoptical projects and follow the path of a polyphonic management style, dominated by interactions and even confrontations between stakeholders. The case of the press agency (case no. 4) illustrates such a possibility, and clearly shows the process once more unfolding in a way that is hard to predict, but this time evolving towards a satisfactory situation for the various parties involved: for management, the organisations basic missions are fulfilled, perhaps more effectively than before since the agencys overall productivity has increased; the editors-in-chief have regained their hierarchical prerogatives, which had been somewhat erased by the project for the new organisation; the redactors have been able to re-establish their margins of freedom by negotiating to maintain their speciality; the unions have managed to negotiate a collective agreement that will serve as a model to the whole press sector, etc. While there have been deviations from the initial project, they indisputably contribute towards improving the quality of the service and the overall functioning of the structure. This is why in this case, we can speak of a logic of innovation. Based on the five forces model, we have thus managed to propose a number of predictive hypotheses: in other words, scenarios of possible evolution. Indeed, our reflection combines the existing influence system and the management style adopted by the change managers. When the management style is dominated by the planning approach, it is described as
from the central, legitimate power which is in place. The Katangese (policemen or ex-mercenaries) guarantee the internal order of these dissident territories (...). We can say that the Katangese effect is the logical consequence of a centralised information system which, by producing ready-made ideas, imposes a high level of social control (1982, p. 47).


panoptical; when, on the contrary, it mainly relates to the political approach (taking power issues and conflicts of rationality into account), the incremental approach (taking the organisations history and earlier change processes into account) and the interpretativist approach (construction of a shared meaning around the project), it may be described as polyphonic. The main scenarios highlighted by the five forces model are the following: 1. a change process conducted in a panoptical mode, in a context with a centripetal influence system, has a greater chance of perpetuating the existing operating methods (logic of perpetuation); 2. a change process conducted in a polyphonic mode, in a context with a centripetal influence system, has a greater chance of leading to reciprocal adjustments between the various parties involved, initially leading to individual, localised improvements, with a tendency to evolve towards a centrifugal influence system in the long term (logic of adaptation); 3. a change process conducted in a panoptical mode, in a context with a centrifugal influence system, has a greater chance of leading to situations of rupture, with a risk of evolving towards a centripetal influence system (logic of dissidence); 4. a change process conducted in a polyphonic mode, in a context with a centrifugal influence system, has a greater chance of encouraging new, unforeseen evolutions that are able to satisfy the various parties involved (logic of innovation). In a way, these four scenarios mark out the limits of what is possible depending on the management styles adopted. In this respect, they indeed constitute a necessary preliminary to managerial actions that may be undertaken in the area of change management, which will be covered in more depth in the next chapter. Let us summarise the way each of these scenarios applies to the cases we have examined. We can start with the situation where the management team and the change managers pursue rationalisation goals and seek to impose them at all cost on the operators, whose expertise is already lacking in legitimacy. In this case, peoples different interests are so opposed to each other that there is little chance of success. In fact, we are in a panoptical management situation, where the logic of perpetuation most probably applies. Under these conditions, the change is clearly a failure: for the managers, this results in the rejection or manifest underuse of the possibilities created by the innovation; for the operators, this is expressed by the feeling of tighter control, contempt for their know-how, less job security, etc. Such is the case, we feel, at the public administration undergoing modernisation (case no. 1). Let us now take a situation which is similar in some ways, except it is the operators who appropriate the change to suit their interests, without management really succeeding in regaining control over the process. Without openly speaking of failure, the managers will complain of numerous difficulties in implementing their project, the lack of collaboration from the operators, etc. while the latter will be more likely to emphasise their wish to meet customers needs at all odds, or fulfil the organisations core missions. It is obvious that this type of situation is more likely to be observed at an organisation that contains professionals, such as the media group (case no. 2): indeed, it is the skilled operators who, armed with their


expertise, are likely to understand the change as a challenge to be taken up. We therefore remain faced with a project conducted in a panoptical manner, but this time with a considerable probability of evolving towards the logic of dissidence. Failure is relative: it was real for most of the protagonists stuck in multiple conflicts and unable to stop the fall in readership and financial losses, but not for the operators who ended up successfully completing an alternative project (Matin Clair). However, the death of Robert Hersant would make it possible to change the influence system, which became centrifugal once more, and the management style of the management team, which moved away from panopticism towards greater polyphony. The logic of dissidence therefore progressively made way for the logic of innovation. Until now we have looked at situations where the change managers have adopted a panoptical management style: it is true that they are by far the most frequent. However, change managers may decide to adopt a more polyphonic management style. Take for example the case of the air freight company (case no. 3), where general management ended up committing to the process in order to support the enthusiasm of some people and silence the qualms of others. The DHR at the sorting centre, for his part, had every reason to be satisfied as he managed to occupy a central position in the implementation of the change. One of the unions acknowledges that the rules of the game have been clarified, in favour of the workers whose interests it represents. However, the same does not apply to the intermediate hierarchical line, which has seen its room for manoeuvre limited: it is the first to point out the contradictions between managements modernising attitude and an influence system that remains essentially centripetal, to criticise the vagueness of the new functions, etc. Moreover, the new generation of representatives at the other union also highlights the fact that the organisation of work has hardly evolved and remains as restrictive as ever. In this case, general management and the DHR at the sorting centre have become aware of the need for their management style to evolve, with a view to improving the corporate climate. However, the operators and middle managers have essentially remained in an execution role, as one of the unions is quick to point out. Therefore we are indeed dealing with a logic of adaptation. Finally, there is the case of the adoption of a polyphonic management style within a centrifugal influence system. The press agency is undoubtedly the most representative of this. The various parties involved clearly have opposing interests (evolution towards staff versatility versus defence of professional competence, cost rationalisation versus maintaining employment, etc.). However, the polyphonic management style adopted by management has resulted in a modus vivendi in which peoples different interests are generally catered to, at least if we see them in terms of constraints to be satisfied20: management may boast of a system that functions relatively well and makes it possible to deal with an increase in activity, the head redactors have regained some of their hierarchical prerogatives, the redactors have managed to preserve their sphere of qualification, the union has been able to negotiate a model collective agreement, the telex operators have kept their jobs, etc. All the stakeholders are therefore winners at the end of the process, in one way

Here were refer to the useful distinction presented by Simon (1983) between optimisation behaviour (maximisation of profit, minimisation of costs, etc.) and satisfaction behaviour (achieving a minimum level of profit, avoiding excessive costs, maintaining social harmony, etc.). While the first behaviour refers to an ideal model of decision-making, the second is the realistic expression of decision-makers practices. They prefer to stop their search once they have found a solution that is satisfactory in relation to the level of aspiration they have set themselves.


or another. This time were are dealing with the logic of innovation as described by Alter (1990): the rules of the game were in no way fixed a priori but, collectively, the stakeholders have managed to create a new situation which may be seen as a collective success, even if managements initial objectives have not been optimised as such. The following table provides a summary of these four scenarios, illustrated by the stakeholders potential reactions to each management style. The arrows represent underlying evolutions: if a panoptical management style is maintained in a centrifugal influence system, the latter ends up turning into a centripetal influence system; the systematic adoption of a polyphonic management style in a centripetal influence system creates a breach in the distribution of power, which may favour a progressive evolution towards a centrifugal influence system.
Table 12: Change management styles, influence systems and potential reactions of the stakeholders concerned Centripetal influence system Boycotting, rejection, underuse, diversion, strategies of avoidance or non-involvement logic of perpetuation (case no. 1) Polyphonic management style Deviations and parallel practices which end up being recognised as legitimate logic of adaptation (case no. 2) Centrifugal influence system Defence of the threatened expertise, constitution of autonomous territories, proliferation of parallel initiatives logic of dissidence (case no. 3) Investment in the name of professional excellence, unforeseen use of systems logic of innovation (case no. 4)

Panoptical management style

4.3. Is congruence necessary? Several remarks may be made following the presentation of these four scenarios. Firstly, we must stress the fact that the importance of the power games does not vary according to the logic that is in force: in each case, they may be of high or low intensity depending on the type of power relationships that exist between the different stakeholders involved. It is therefore not the act of adopting a certain management style or operating within a particular influence system that leads to a given level of conflict. On the other hand, the fact that such conflicts unfold in different contexts and under different styles affects their provisional outcome to a large extent: at least that is what the hypotheses set out above suggest. Next, our scenarios enable us to discuss the principle of congruence defended by a certain number of stakeholders when analysing the change process. This principle is intended to establish a link between the management rationality that prevails when the change is introduced, and the context in which this change is introduced. It has been expounded by Markus and Pfeffer (1983) in relation to information systems. These authors consider that a situation of non-congruence leads to difficulties in integrating the change into the organisation.


To the extent the power distribution implied by the accounting and control system does not correspond to the distribution of power implied by other determinants, there will be greater difficulty in implementation, including more resistance and more instances of system termination (1983, p.209). The congruence principle is greatly inspired by the contingent approach, which consists of demonstrating the necessary consonances and logical harmonies between managerial and contextual variables. As Markus and Robey (1983) put it: The writings on organizational validity and on resistance to information systems suggest that invalidity or mismatch between system and organization is a major contributor to resistance (...). If the goal of system design is to minimize resistance, then a high degree of organizational validity can be described. This assures that a system will be easy to implement, for reasons that are easy to understand: the system would require minimum change in users' thinking patterns, organizational structure, organizational power distribution, and patterned ways of dealing with the environment (1983, pp. 220-221). A similar idea is defended by the advocates of adaptive structuration theory, based on their concept of the spirit of technology (DeSanctis & Poole, 1994), which refers to the intention, values and objectives pursued when developing a management system: If group interactions are inconsistent with the structural potential of the technology and surrounding conditions, then the outcomes of group use of the structures will be less predictable and, on the whole, less favorable (p.131). One of the most systematic expressions of this tradition of thought in the area of information systems is undoubtedly the one developed by Leifer (1988). Here, the hypothesis of congruence is clearly stated: Management may choose a CBIS [=computer-based information system] for strategic or competitive reasons, and in doing so may even realize that it is not well-matched to the organization. There are basically one of two possible outcomes of such a mismatch. Either the system will not be used as intended (e.g., it will be ignored, sabotaged, or manual systems will continue to be used in parallel to check the system) and hence will not live up to managerial or user expectations, or the organization will make the desired changes, ultimately resulting in a CBIS-organization match (1988, p.71). In other words, success may only be achieved if the way the information system is developed matches the organisational context, in particular the system of power distribution. Here we see the fundamental principles of the thesis of strategic alignment, as mentioned in the second chapter in the context of the contingent approach. The congruence principle also features heavily in other fields of management. Miller (1986) and Mintzberg, and Ahlstrand & Lampers (1999) defend the hypothesis of a logical continuity between organisational structures and strategy formation methods: according to them, a strategy of differentiation through innovation would be more suitable in an adhocratic type of configuration, whereas a cost leadership strategy would be more in keeping with the operation of a machine configuration. Moreover, we have supported the need for an alignment of HRM policies with organisational configurations (Pichault &


Nizet, 2000). In concrete terms, this would mean that a change aimed at decentralising HRM (individualising or conventionalist models) has less chance of ending in success in a centripetal influence system than in a centrifugal influence system; conversely, an evolution towards a more centralised HRM (arbitrary or objectivising models) would hardly be in keeping with the operation of a centrifugal influence system and would risk ending in failure. By applying the congruence principle to our current model, a change process carried out in a panoptical mode within a centripetal influence system could be described as congruent: the pursuit of transparency and control logically goes hand in hand with the concentration of power at a particular site within the organisation. The same applies to a change made in a polyphonic mode within a centrifugal influence system: the interplay of negotiations and compromises seems naturally linked to a certain dispersal of the poles of power. However, the opposite situations appear non-congruent: the panoptical temptation clashes with the diffusion of power characteristic of a centrifugal influence system, and polyphonic management is less likely when power is concentrated in the hands of one stakeholder group (centripetal influence system). In other words, a centrifugal context would require an appropriate form of management, of the self-regulatory type (King & Lenox, 2000), which would be more apt to take account of professionals attempts at autonomy; on the other hand, a command-and-control type approach (Arvey & Jones, 1985) would be more appropriate in a centripetal context, where employees are more used to finding themselves in a situation of execution. All these relationships of congruence are summarised in the following table.
Table 13: Relationships of congruence between management styles and influence systems Centripetal influence system Congruence Non-congruence Centrifugal influence system Non-congruence Congruence

Panoptical management style Polyphonic management style

At the end of the day, it would be a case of structuring the content of the change that one intends to promote according to the context in which it is introduced. While we are obviously not arguing with this from a general point of view, we wonder about the status and operational scope of the proposed pairings: are these observations based on empirical research (descriptive level) or proposals of a normative nature (prescriptive level)? To be honest, the border between these two levels is not always very clear. Moreover, our case studies suggest that a far greater variety of situations actually exists. Indeed, table 12 shows that congruence does not necessarily result in a positive result for the organisation. Thus, a change introduced in a panoptical mode within a centripetal influence system, although congruent, often risks leading to a situation of failure and immobilisation. Similarly, non-congruence may turn out to be a positive thing in some cases: if we consider a polyphonic change management style in an organisation with a centripetal influence system, certain promising developments become possible. In addition, congruence in no way excludes the appearance of resistances and diversions. We have repeatedly stressed the fact that conflicts of rationality are always present in a situation of change: only their impact on the process varies according to the influence systems and management styles adopted. It would therefore be an illusion to expect the


resistances to disappear when there is consonance between the intention of change and the influence system, given the fact that any managerial project is necessarily rationalising by its very nature (Moisdon, 1997; Gilbert, 1998; Sgrestin, 2004). Our rejection of the hypothesis of congruence, at least in its purely mechanical form, leads us to reintroduce the social interactions into a model from which they have been singularly absent. Because of its concern with discovering structural coherence between variables, the contingent approach effectively ends up removing the stakeholders, their strategies, the contradicting interests they pursue (political approach), the need to connect the change with the temporalities of other projects taking place (incremental approach) and the importance of developing an acceptable meaning around the process that has been launched (interpretativist approach). Yet we have seen the great extent to which the change management strategy adopted by change managers can affect the results of the process. Let us take the reflection further in this perspective. We know that to a certain extent, the influence system constitutes a constraint, over which management and change managers have little control. On the other hand, the latter may opt for very different management styles: indeed, the chance of success is greatest when a polyphonic management style is implemented. Conversely, a panoptical management style seems to make it more likely that the innovation will be a failure. In reality, the management style adopted affects the way stakeholders react to the change process. These reactions are always present, however their contribution may be made negative insofar as it leads to imbalances in the level of satisfaction of the interests involved, ruptures in the connection between the various temporalities and a lack of a shared vision. Alternatively, it may be converted in a positive way, when it manages to simultaneously satisfy diverging interests, combine the change with other processes taking place and give it an acceptable common meaning. In other terms, the management style, combined with the type of influence system, constitutes a crucially important factor in helping us to anticipate the conditions under which the interplay of social interactions may contribute to the implementation of a change process, or on the contrary risk creating an obstacle to its implementation. The diagram by Salerni whose generic nature we have already established above, at least in its descriptive form has already stressed the fact that the reactions of the stakeholders concerned by the change are both hindrances (H) to the initial rationalisation project, and stimulants (S) to innovation: they are therefore profoundly ambivalent in nature. In general, the more or less positive character of the contribution made by social interactions to the change process depends above all on whether managerial staff have succeeded in reacting to it appropriately, in such a way as to create a favourable relationship between (S) and (H). If the change process is seen exclusively from a panoptical perspective, two typical situations may present themselves: either we see users reacting by rejecting or boycotting the new system (logic of perpetuation); or we see the appearance of situations of rupture between the centre and the periphery, which pursues its own change project, with a risk of ultimately evolving towards a centripetal influence system (logic of dissidence).


Even if these two situations are liable to appear in different contexts, they both end up leading to a kind of organisational death: they result in a relationship where (H) appears greater than (S). We can describe these social interactions as regressive. On the other hand, the polyphonic management style seems to make a more positive contribution to helping the change process unfold, as established clearly in table 10, where the multidimensional evaluation framework was applied to our case studies: either it leads to reciprocal adjustments between the different parties, along with certain local improvements that nonetheless remain within an organisational schema marked by a split between stakeholders from the top and bottom, but do not rule out the progressive establishment of a centrifugal influence system in the long term (logic of adaptation); or it leads to new situations of temporary balance between the different parties, whose goals and interests manage to converge temporarily (logic of innovation).

The polyphonic management style therefore seems to contribute more to organisational life, which is found within a centripetal or centrifugal influence system. This time, we can see a relationship where (S) is greater than (H). We can describe these social interactions as progressive. Another way of presenting the opposition between the two management styles is to make use of the classic distinction between distributive and integrating strategies (Barki and Saunders, 1990; Bacon & Blyton, 2007). The former are characterised by the fact that each of the parties seeks to optimise their gains without taking account of those of the other party (1990, p.121): here we are following the logic of perpetuation or dissidence. The latter consist of defining the goals in such a way that each of the parties can achieve their objectives (ibidem): here we are following the logic of adaptation or innovation. All the relationships between management styles, influence systems and types of social interaction are summarised in figure 6.


Figure 6: Relationships between influence systems, management styles and types of social interaction

What should we remember from this chapter? During this chapter, we have highlighted the predictive capacities of the five forces model, based on a set of hypotheses comparing the influence of contextual and above all processual variables. The former set of variables relate above all to the contingent approach, which enables us to distinguish between different influence systems (centripetal or centrifugal, depending on the degree of concentration of power). The latter draw on the planning, political, incremental and interpretativist approaches in order to compare two main management styles: panoptical management, based on rationalisation, and polyphonic management, based on confrontation between rationalities. Our hypotheses present several possible scenarios of evolution around a change project, while anticipating the types of social interaction that are likely to develop: these scenarios range from a logic of perpetuation (rejection of change) to a logic of innovation (unforeseen appropriations) through a logic of dissidence (rupture between the centre and the periphery) and a logic of adaptation (local improvements with limited scope). After a critical discussion of the hypothesis of congruence, which advocates adopting a management style appropriate to the context in which the change is introduced, we have demonstrated the central role of management style, regardless of the context concerned:


indeed, this variable alone may lead social interactions to make a more or less positive contribution to the change process. Given that a polyphonic management style seems more likely to lead to situations that are favourable to successful change than a panoptical style, in the next part of our argument, we shall take a more in-depth look at the characteristics that constitute this management style.


5. A PROCESS TO BE MANAGED In this chapter you will find: - a reflection on the interrelations between the analytical and normative levels in change management; - a presentation of the basic principles of the polyphonic management style, structured according to the methodological phases identified by the proponents of the actornetwork theory; - a demonstration of the usefulness of referring to these principles for external intervening parties in charge of monitoring change. The previous chapters have provided us with different analytical tools: ideal types to describe the possible aims of a change process (chapter 1), the five forces model to explain how it unfolds (chapter 2), the multidimensional framework to evaluate it (chapter 3), and the set of four predictive hypotheses to anticipate its course (chapter 4). These chapters lay the foundations for the reflection on the modalities of change management that we shall now undertake. We believe that we have clearly established the decisive role of management style in the success or failure of a change. We have shown that a polyphonic management style, which recognises the plurality of stakeholders and their diverging interests from the outset, is attentive to the constraints of the context, the temporalities of processes launched previously and the meaning to be given to the change process, is more likely to increase this projects chances of success than a panoptical management style, which would exclusively pursue objectives of rationalisation. On the basis of these reflections, we shall now explain the nature and scope of a polyphonic form of change management. We should bear in mind that this is the main action variable which managers can control: the existing influence system may only be modified with great difficulty, most often following a structural adjustment required by environmental changes (disruption of the market, modifications to the regulatory framework, appearance of a new external influence holder, etc.). 5.1. From the five forces analysis to polyphonic management We acknowledge that there is a need to maintain a distinction between the analyses that organisational theorists may carry out, and the pragmatic concerns of managers and consultants. The first case is above all an attempt to describe a reality (chapter 1), in order to understand it better and, above all, explain it (chapter 2). The explanation offers models that are likely to support the evaluation (chapter 3) and anticipation, i.e. elaborating more or less probable scenarios (chapter 4). In the second case, on the other hand, we place ourselves on a deliberately normative level, by seeking or favouring certain action orientations that have the potential to transform the existing reality. However, this difference of level in no way justifies the division that some people prefer to maintain between the two spheres, claiming that when faced with immediate everyday problems, the manager and the man of action will have neither the time nor the means to bother with theoretical preliminaries.


We remain convinced that, whatever form it takes, change management requires a thorough understanding of the social mechanisms that contribute to defining the content, context and process concerned: such is the purpose of the previous chapters, in particular the five forces model. Conversely, the accumulation of knowledge of the human factors is pointless and vain if it cannot result in concrete recommendations aimed at transforming current operating methods: this is the reason for this chapter. We are aware that such a leap, from the analytical level to the normative level, carries many risks, as the neutrality of the researcher now gives way to an explicit involvement in managerial action. Firstly we should bear in mind, as many others have pointed out, that the neutrality of the researcher is a principle inherited from positivist theories, which hardly reflects actual practice in field work. Buchanan et al. (1988) have clearly shown how each stage of research is marked by negotiation, compromise and power relationships between researchers and members of the organisation: this applies to the entry into the organisation per se, the way the first analyses are conducted, the way the results are delivered and/or the subsequent return to the organisation. Even in the case of a purely analytical approach, at one point or another, researchers will have had to agree to abandon their hypothetical neutrality and adopt an opportunistic position. The choice of certain dimensions for analysis, to the exclusion of others, the causalities based on statistical links, and the relationships simply suggested by a qualitative approach are so many cases where sides are taken deliberately or unconsciously, imposed or negotiated in a game where the researcher does not understand all the rules. What message do people want the researcher to express? In what context is it delivered (a management committee, a works committee, the staff as a whole, an in-house newsletter)? How is it received? etc. The border between the analytical and normative levels therefore does not depend so much on the researchers supposed neutrality, which disappears once they turn into a consultant. In our opinion, it refers more to the actual orientation of its analyses: are they confined to the simple observation of social phenomena or do they contribute towards a certain efficiency and/or organisational effectiveness? Indeed, it is one thing to observe that power games are omnipresent and make their mark on all change processes. It is another to reflect on ways of managing organisations while taking such games into account. In the first case, we are restricted to exploring how change processes unfold and, where applicable, to identifying the panoptical illusions that underpin them. In the second, we find ourselves directly involved in change management, consequently sharing responsibility for its success or failure. Such a sanction must necessarily affect the way the researcher carries out their own investigations. Referring to the discussion of concepts of success and failure presented in the third chapter, we note that the proposed evaluation criteria indeed claim to move in the direction of greater organisational efficiency and/or effectiveness, and that they are consequently situated on a deliberately normative level. Here we would like to provide a concrete illustration of the interdependencies that form between the analytical and normative levels so often confused when reflecting on


organisations starting with an intervention that our research centre was asked to carry out at a major Belgian police institution. A document management project in the police force This is quite a large administration (several thousands of officers), highly centralised, very hierarchical, subdivided into several main operational departments and relying almost exclusively on the standardisation of procedures at all levels: following the rules to the letter is even regularly sanctioned by inspection reports, surprise visits from superiors, etc. All the features of a machine configuration can be seen here. In such a context, general management launched a vast structural change project, aimed at introducing a more flexible method of operation based on increased responsibility for officers, management by objectives, versatility at all levels, a reduction in the number of hierarchical levels, improvement of communication circuits, reinforcement of continuing education programmes, etc. A more specific document management project came along against this backdrop. Its main objective was to radically transform the officers relationship to the documentation. All this documentation made up of reference works, legal and regulatory provisions, the related jurisprudence, descriptions of procedures and various administrative texts was made available to all the members of the organisation, at all the levels of the hierarchy, in order to develop a real decision-making tool. At the level of general management, all the available documents were held at a specialist centre. At the intermediate and operational levels, documents relating more directly to the activity of the unit concerned were held at smaller centres. The documentation was meant to be kept up-to-date and filed uniformly across the whole organisation, so it could be directly operational when carrying out missions in the field. However, the methods used for the production, dissemination and filing of documents were quite traditional: the documents were printed, photocopied and sent every day to all units, filed manually on the shelves, etc. It is easy to guess the numerous problems that resorting to such methods would cause when updating documents, in such a large organisation with so many hierarchical levels: the risk of typing mistakes and documents being assigned the wrong code or even forgotten altogether by the writers21, excessive costs and delays inherent in sending over a hundred pages worth of updates every day to all the units, the extremely high volume of filing work needed at the local units whose priorities lay more in fulfilling the organisations core missions leading to massive delays in the information becoming available, proliferation of filing standards at the local level in the absence of effective means of control, etc. It is no surprise that in such a context, any search for information was doomed to total inefficiency and required a kind of heroism, even with the best will in the world. Ambitious objectives were therefore set for the document management project: to restructure the whole system of production and information circulation as well as promoting its integration into each officers everyday work, no more, no less.


Each document is given a code number according to its type, so it can be filed and located easily in the different units.


After the information systems (IS) department management team had launched an initial general call for tenders covering the whole project, an IT consulting company was charged with drawing up a precise, operational list of specifications, specifying each of the main orientations defined by management. The initial project, devised by the IS department and taken over by the consulting company, was of the paperless type: the local documentation centres would be closed and there would be a mass distribution of laptops, which could be used to connect to the administrations Intranet anywhere, at any time, in order to search the central database. It was at this point that the consulting company asked our research centre to carry out an examination of the projects human and organisational consequences, in order to increase the chances of it being accepted, in its final version, by general management. As we will see below, the fact that it was introduced during the process would have considerable implications for the influence and significance of our intervention. Having from the outset emphasised the need for an appropriation, even a divergent one, of the projects initial objectives by its users, we directly carried out a series of participative observation procedures for around a month, attempting to vary the time and place conditions of our investigation as much as possible: observations made at different times of the day, in local urban units as well as rural ones, of various sizes. Our aim was to identify, ex ante, the type of relationship that existed with the documentary tool. The basic hypothesis that underpinned our approach was that the current relationship with the documentation and the structure of the games between stakeholders that it covered would to a large extent determine what type of reaction there would be to the change project itself. At the end of our investigation, we made a few essential observations: In their daily work, when dealing with the organisations customers, the field operators seldom referred to the documentation. Not only that, but an operator who did refer to it was often looked down upon by their colleagues, as this made them seem inexperienced or hesitant. In principle, a good operator was one who worked without a safety net, without needing an arsenal of documents to constantly remind them of what they needed to do. Essentially, the tools made available to the employees (documentation centre, vade-mecum summarising the most important regulatory provisions, etc.) were above all aimed at socialising the new recruits and officers transferred from another unit, who had not yet acquired the necessary experience. Could we seriously expect that, in such a context, the arrival of laptops would suddenly make the officers review their practices and systematically consult the documentation? Obviously, the first observation only applied to routine and/or recurrent work, but this accounted for over 90% of everyday tasks. On the other hand, as soon as an exceptional situation appeared, the operators reflex was not to refer to the documentation to find out what procedures to follow, but rather to call their line manager, who acted as a kind of resource person. By doing this, the operator would not only obtain the information they wanted (what should I do if...?), but also find out how to interpret it (in principle, the text says that... but last time, we did it this way) and above all obtain the approval of the line manager, to whom they could refer if need be (the boss told me that). In other words, the search for information, when it took place, was not limited to the content of this information, but was inscribed in a general context of very hierarchical relationships where the fear of being penalised by the superior would prevail over the wish to be informed. Under these conditions, purchasing vast amounts of laptops seemed


misguided, even if the solution seemed appealing on the level of technical performance22: using a formalised tool could indeed never replace the advantages of consulting a line manager on an informal basis. Another important observation: the behaviour of documentation managers at all levels of the hierarchy. These constituted real fiefs, reigning over a filing system that often only they could understand. For them this was an important source of power, which may be likened to the power of expertise. Indeed, they had become real experts in documentation, with a detailed knowledge of the appendices relating to a particular document, the latest updates in a particular area, etc. In general they had quite a high level of seniority and had progressively moved away from the field work. Their attitudes towards the document management project were extremely negative, as one would expect: from the outset, they were implacably opposed to the project. General management was aware of the existence of such pockets of contestation, but interpreted them as typical cases of resistance to change coming from the older operators. Early retirement measures were in fact planned in order to put an end to the problem.

How, in such a context, did we move from making simple observations to formulating managerial recommendations? It very soon became clear that whatever happened, we needed to abandon the paperless idea: given the interplay of power relationships that existed between colleagues on the one hand and towards the line manager on the other, unless we were going to radically rethink the way the structure functioned, we felt it would be preferable to focus on identifying the resource people consulted by the operators and documentation experts. The former represented an essential link in the informal chain of communication and played a significant role in setting the rules of the game (I will cover you if you consult me in an exceptional situation). The latter were inevitably potential opponents of the project, in that they saw it as a threat to their power of expertise. The solution finally recommended by our team no mass purchase of equipment, identifying and converting resource people was undoubtedly much less appealing in technical and economic terms: it required less prowess on the infrastructure level and reduced the scale of the contract concerned. On the other hand, by equipping the resource people and field experts, and legitimising their implicit knowledge, it undoubtedly had a greater chance of resulting in an effective appropriation of the new technical base by its users. In other words, it forced each camp to eat humble pie and reach a compromise solution: one group had to scale down the projects initial pretentions, and the others had to accept the necessary arrival of the IT tool in their field of work. However, it offered everyone a certain number of potential gains: the former would probably see fewer pockets of resistance and the relative success of their project was assured; the latter would see their expertise redeployed and their areas of uncertainty maintained. However, needless to say, there was great opposition to our approach: the projects internal promoters (the managers of the IS department), who had been counting on the introduction of a hi-tech system designed to create a showcase effect aimed at the outside world, interpreted the reduced performance of the future system as an attack on its very credibility,

It should be noted that this administration had for a long time played a pioneering role in the area of information technologies. The defence of a certain modernist brand image was therefore not totally absent from the document project, which was designed to compensate for the delays that had built up in this area.


and therefore their own legitimacy. The PC suppliers, attracted by the prospect of a juicy contract, were suddenly faced with the prospect of a drastic reduction in the number of units to be supplied. Not mentioning the managers of several logistics departments, who saw a drastic reduction in the scale of the contract they could have been in charge of, and thus a curtailment of the added prestige they could have gained from it. Most of the criticisms focussed on the fact that the whole project architecture could not be based on existing practices, which were suboptimal by definition, and that an ideal model of organisation and information circulation had to be applied when building the new system. Many meetings were needed to explain and gain acceptance of our viewpoint. However, our intervention did not enjoy great legitimacy (given that we had been called in very late in the process, our role should have been confined to justifying the project by showing that the human and organisational consequences had been taken into account), dealings with suppliers had already reached a sufficiently advanced stage and, above all, the managers of the IS department played on their own legitimacy in this project: so many adequate reasons for the proposed solution to appear unacceptable. It was no surprise to find that the project managers had a point of view very close to panopticism: according to them, we needed to take advantage of the introduction of the document management tool to reform anarchic practices in the field, codify them more narrowly and monitor the following of procedures more closely. Faced with such a situation, general management needed to take the lead: they could not support our argument entirely that would have involved discrediting the project managers but they could also not ignore all the conclusions of our analysis, especially as these had been set out before the representatives at nearly all the hierarchical levels of the organisation. They agreed to follow the general recommendations of our report, while offering to provide a batch of PCs to the units that wanted them. In reality, this was a compromise in the second degree, in a way between the advocates of the paperless solution (the managers of the IS department and the logistics departments concerned, the PC suppliers and certain members of the IT consulting company charged with drawing up the list of specifications), and those who had rallied round our proposal for minimal equipment with the resource person as the focal point, and who were likely to appropriate it (other members of the consulting company, including the project manager, certain influential members of the general management team). Such a compromise preserved the chances of a progressive extension of the systems performance and a large-scale contract, while making it possible to assert that the initial orientations had been scaled down to incorporate the human dimension.

5.2. Basic principles of polyphonic change management This case shows us that the polyphonic management perspective is not a reflection for decoding events and actions that have taken place a posteriori: it is first and foremost a useful frame of reference, ex ante, for managing a change process. Ultimately, polyphonic management is a way of stimulating the process shown in the diagram by Salerni, which we presented in chapter 2. With regard to this, let us compare the potential effects of the management style adopted by the change promoters. If they are looking at the


situation from a panoptical management perspective, as was the case initially with the managers of the polices IS department, Salernis phase 3 (counter-system during which returns diminish, production costs rise and the control function becomes totally ineffective) may become very long and the process may stop: here we are in the logic of perpetuation or dissidence. Polyphonic management, on the other hand, which is more likely to follow a logic of adaptation or innovation, accelerates the transition to phase 4 (feedback during which managers become aware of the discrepancy between the initial objectives and the effective performance of the system), as it requires significant intervention from the managers. Therefore, to a large extent, the process relies on the latters attitude, and not on the more or less high propensity of the future users to accept a new system23. However, polyphonic management in no way guarantees that the conflicts in the life of the organisation will be appeased. Even if the potential gains and losses of power have been correctly anticipated, and alliances have been constructed skilfully enough, it does not necessarily follow that the change project will be a success or that its performance will be optimised. On the contrary, as shown by the cyclical character of Salernis diagram, the acceleration of the transition to phase 4 increases the probability of new diversions, new deviant practices and new areas of uncertainty appearing. Polyphonic management is therefore not a guarantee that the project promoters initial objectives will be achieved. On the other hand, it represents a serious step forward in terms of appropriation of the change however surprising this may be for the promoters by the main stakeholders concerned24. In an abstract way and without reference to any particular context, it is difficult to specify what orientations should be followed as part of a polyphonic change management process. At the most, we can define a certain number of basic principles which should be prioritised in this perspective, and which should obviously be concretised while taking account of the particularities of all each of the contexts one intends to apply them in. At the end of the day, polyphonic management is a strategy in its own right one possibility amongst others deployed by managers when faced with stakeholder groups whose interests differ from their own. We shall present these principles, referring largely to the translation and actor-network theories (Callon, 1986; Akrich, Callon & Latour, 1988; Latour, 1987; Callon, 1991; Law & Hassard, 1999; Akrich, Callon & Latour, 2006)25. In the constant interaction between the three poles of the contextualist analytical framework (content, context, process), this theory places special
23 This

calls into question certain models used frequently in the field of information systems management, such as the technology acceptance model (Davis, Bagozzi & Warshaw, 1989; Bagozzi, 2007), based on concepts such as perceived usefulness or perceived user-friendliness. 24 We should stress that polyphonic management may be seen within the context of a classic organisation, where it is relatively easy to locate the place where managerial responsibilities are fulfilled, as well as in the context of an interorganisational partnership, even if the latter is marked by asymmetrical power relationships between its various components. In both cases, it is possible to consider the issue of a change to be managed, with its promoters on the one hand, and those experiencing it on the other. However, in the context of an interorganisational partnership where relations between entities are more symmetrical, the change process is inevitably more diffused. Polyphonic management is undoubtedly less directly relevant in these cases, in that it requires the fulfilment of more or less clearly identified managerial responsibilities. Nonetheless, some of these components may still form useful reference points for action. 25 Links may also be established with the theory of institutional entrepreneurship (DiMaggio, 1988; Maguire, Hardy & Lawrence, 2004), even if the latter is more concerned with the discursive strategies implemented than the material aspects of change favoured by the actor-network theory.


emphasis on the importance of the process by which a change takes place and the context in which it takes place: particularly innovative content may never concretised if specific action is not taken to make it appropriable in a particular context, even if it comes at the price of a distortion of the initial content. Such a translation process consists of establishing links between elements that apparently have no relation to each other. The actor-network theory has the advantage of making it possible to present the basic principles of polyphonic management in a structured way. This theory is in fact made up of several distinct phases: contextualisation of the innovation, through which the influence system in force may be characterised (division and coordination of work, distribution of actors, etc.), and all the human and non-human entities involved, their stakes and the degree of convergence or divergence between them may be examined; problematisation, i.e. formulation of a common controversy in relation to which the various parties will be able to situate themselves, based on the problematic statements coming from the different links in the network; enrolment, through which legitimate spokespeople are identified to represent the various links in the network, and assigned specific missions; investments of form (simplified representations of the evolution of the controversy using graphs, maps, statistics, etc. which will circulate among the links in the network) and the constitution of obligatory points of passage (places or statements likely to increase convergence between the links in the network); extension of the network, by incorporating new links to solidify it and anchoring it in the temporalities of other processes taking place (irreversibility).

Understood in this way, the actor-network theory, although strictly analytical at the outset, in fact constitutes a highly relevant basis for change management. In this respect, it takes on the status of a normative theory. Do the different phases of the translation necessarily follow on from each other in time? Admittedly, it is not surprising that the first operations to be performed are devoted to analysing the context and relationships between stakeholders with a view to identifying a particular translator, who is in charge of successfully completing the later phases. Incidentally, we should note the concrete interdependences that exist between an analytical approach and a normative approach, from the point when the information gathered is directly destined for action. While contextualisation does constitute a necessary preliminary, the same does not apply to the other phases. These are above all presented in a logical order, for the sake of clarity, yet in reality they overlap to a great extent. Thus, spokespeople cannot be enrolled before the problematisation phase has started, in particular the formalisation of a common objective. Conversely, problematisation may only be concretised if all the spokespeople have truly been mobilised. Therefore, in our opinion, these different phases are above all methodological stages and not chronological ones. All these phases in fact mobilise the different approaches of the five forces model. Contextualisation requires attention to the specificities of the context in which the change will be introduced (contingent approach) and the games of the stakeholders connected with it


(political approach). On this basis, problematisation requires us to identify the contradictory stakes of the stakeholders involved, state the positions that separate them (political approach) and mobilise the contextual elements that are likely to have meaning for the parties involved, in order to bring them progressively towards a common controversy (interpretativist approach). Enrolment consists of assigning each protagonist a role that enables them to defend their interests and which they can therefore appropriate (political approach). Investments of form and the constitution of obligatory points of passage constitute the various artefacts that punctuate the projects progression towards a common objective (planning approach). Extension relates to the anchoring of the project in the long term of the organisation, which guarantees the durability of the project (incremental approach). All these correspondences are summarised in the following table. Unsurprisingly, the political approach features prominently. Readers will also note that the planning approach is not totally absent from the translation operations that characterise the polyphonic management style: it intervenes at certain key moments in the process, once the oppositions of interest are no longer exacerbated and a common controversy has been identified. Therefore, a number of very direct relationships exist between the different phases of the actor-network theory and the five forces model: these are summarised in the table below.
Table 14: Correspondences between the phases of the actor-network theory and the five approaches to explaining change PHASES OF THE ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY Contextualisation Enrolment Problematisation Convergence Extension APPROACHES TO CHANGE Contingency, political Political Political, interpretativism Planning, interpretativism Incrementalism

Hence, the fundamental principles of a polyphonic management style may be presented in the form of a series of operations associated with each phase of the actor-network theory, as shown in the following table. This is obviously not an exhaustive list of these operations, rather, it serves to illustrate the concrete modalities that each phase may take.
Table 15: Fundamental principles of a polyphonic management style PHASES OF THE ACTORNETWORK THEORY Contextualisation COMPONENTS OF A POLYPHONIC MANAGEMENT STYLE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. Characterising the influence system in force Locating informal communication circuits Identifying the main stakeholders Analysing internal and external mobilisation capacities Anticipating the means of action likely to be deployed Identifying a translator Mobilising and enrolling spokespeople for the different stakeholders Formalising a common objective Abandoning the myth of the predetermination of tasks and reform of current practices Avoiding the search for consensus and favouring compromises Promoting unforeseen innovations and appropriations Making relevant use of the power of the joker Identifying key actions and monitoring indicators Evaluating the process continuously

Enrolment Problematisation




15. Communicating constantly about the process under way 16. Socialising new arrivals

The rest of the paper is dedicated to a more detailed presentation of the various components of the polyphonic management style. 5.2.1. Characterising the influence system The contextualisation phase begins with an identification of the elements of the internal context that are likely to influence the course of the change process26. Its objectives are as follows: locating the contextual opportunities or constraints that are likely to affect the process; describing the centripetal or centrifugal nature of the influence system in force; detecting possible discrepancies between the current situation and the desired situation, especially in the area of work organisation and human resources management.

The analysis may be carried out using a contextual analytical framework that guides the description of the different organisational components likely to be concerned by the change. In this respect, the ideal types provided in the first chapter may prove very useful. The analysis may thus cover the following dimensions: business strategy: main business objectives and positioning of the products/services on the markets (cost leadership or differentiation); the main organisational configurations: ways of dividing and coordinating work, distribution of power, type of goals pursued; organisational culture: statements, objects, key people, spatial and temporal dimensions of the different conventions in force; the dominant human resources management policies: degree of formalisation, flexibility and decentralisation of the main HRM variables (recruitment/selection, evaluation, promotion, remuneration, skills development, etc.); the type of production technology: unit-based or piecework, mass or continuous; the information system: centralised, deconcentrated, integrated or open architecture.

The information thus gathered27 enables us to describe the influence system in force (see table 9): do most of the dimensions fit in with a centripetal or a centrifugal system? The dimensions directly concerned by the change must be prioritised when conducting the contextual analysis. Does the new system envisaged involve certain presuppositions about the organisation (for example, centralisation of accounting, or decentralisation of supply at the factories and centralisation of the purchasing function at head office) or HRM (the need to possess certain skills, etc.)? Do work organisation and human resources management differ according to the departments, services or functions concerned and does the project concern them all in the same way? Finally, one of the main benefits of the contextual analysis is that it manages to go beyond a simple description of the current situation and enables us to locate the discrepancies
26 This section is inspired to a great extent by a study conducted by our research centre (Rocher, 2003, pp. 1415). 27 If the contextualisation phase is entrusted to an external intervening party, this information may be obtained by conducting interviews at different levels of the hierarchy and the company functions. They may be complemented by reading company documents or, if need be, in situ observations of the operating methods.


likely to emerge between the presuppositions/stakes that underpin the change process, and the current methods of organisation and operation, as in the case set out below. The Book Database project at Editions Arabesque28 Editions Arabesque is a small publishing house specialising in French-language literature. With the help of an IT company, its management team plan to implement a project to digitise the records containing all the information about the publication of their books, from the time of drawing up the contract with the author, to the manufacturing and distribution of the book in stores. This project is meant to replace the paper format, which is not very practical and where it is difficult to tell if you are looking at the final version (as the information can change frequently). It has been going on for around two years and relies on the development of a centralised application, prefiguring a collaborative working application. The plan is that the different stakeholders in the publishing process will use their computers to add or view book information. The information will thus be concentrated in one online database, as access will be calibrated according to different settings (type of user, type of information, time of dissemination of information). The work organisation is not highly formalised: the various players adjust to each other face to face, by telephone or email. The latter factor may prove to be a sizeable cultural obstacle when faced with a tool that normalises de facto the results of each persons work. Moreover, the centralising character of the application envisaged, in the image of the companys information system, may go against the large-scale decentralisation and high level of autonomy in the companys work practices. Finally, the necessary information-sharing required for the book database may be a sensitive issue given the professional culture of specialists who are not inclined to share their trade secrets. Adjustments will therefore have to be made to the initial project, to take account of an essentially centrifugal influence system. Evidently, the current project is too politically charged to be integrated as it is into the organisation of Editions Arabesques. More flexible formulas will therefore have to be envisaged, in such a way as to balance the management teams objectives of making communication smoother, and the need for autonomy expressed by the publishing professionals. 5.2.2. Locating informal communication circuits Many change managers still think about the development of their projects within a very formal, even formalist, context, following official channels of communication: from the strategic apex to the operational centre and from the support services or analysts to the middle line (hierarchico-functional communications); from the lower levels to the higher levels, through circles of quality or progress, evaluation interviews, consultation procedures, etc. (ascending communications); along the work flows, between auxiliary departments and customer service departments, etc. (lateral communications).

The conception of a new management system therefore often relies on the managers taking a diffusionist view of change one which spreads from the centre to the periphery (hierarchico28 This example is taken from Rocher (2003, pp. 16-17).


functional mode) or from one unit to another (lateral mode) in some cases complemented by feedback mechanisms carrying information from the periphery (ascending mode). Furthermore, as we have seen, this approach implies an idealised conception of the behaviour of the organisations members, who are supposed to think and act in a rational way, i.e. in accordance with the management teams prescripts. Needless to say, a large part of organisational communication operates informally. The circuits along which information travels are not always those intended by the managers. Moreover, the fact that information circulates along parallel paths frequently modifies the nature of the information exchanged. The case of the document management system in the police force has shown us that the actual exchange has little relevance to what is meant to be the official subject of the communication (the regulatory provision), and has more to do with how it is interpreted and the hierarchical legitimisation of this interpretation. It is therefore essential to take account of the informal circulation of information in the very conception of change projects, while leaving them sufficiently open in this respect to allow for initially unplanned exchanges of information, and so that actors do not have to follow communication procedures that have no relevance to their actual practices. Even if it is often hard to admit it, it is a case of recognising the legitimacy even the effectiveness of parallel communications from the outset, rather than trying in vain to remove them or reduce their importance: they are an inevitable part of the life of organised human groups. As Kreps correctly reminds us, informal communication circuits fulfil numerous functions: Restricting informal information flow serves to increase organization members ambiguities and need for relevant information. The more they need information, the more they seek to develop informal communication networks (). Informal communication channels are less likely than formal communication channels to distort information because there are far more opportunities for feedback in informal communication networks, reducing the distorting influence of one-way serial communication; there are fewer status discrepancies among informal communicators, making it less risky for feedback to be sought; and there are more opportunities for message redundancies in informal networks, allowing organization members to hear the same information from several sources (1990, pp.209-210). Locating informal communication circuits also enables us to ensure that the project will have an effect on the real life of the organisation. It constitutes a first step in understanding the issues that underpin relationships between stakeholders. 5.2.3. Identifying the main stakeholders It is essential to locate the main interest groups involved, or the stakeholders: those who are spoken about, those who are designated as the main source of difficulty or, on the contrary, as the bringers of change. Other stakeholders will appear later, as the analysis progresses - an observation in the field or a cross-narrative of several informants about a single event will encourage this process. Here, the stakeholders are the union representatives; there, the technical manager; there, the executives in a particular department. There are multiple analytical frameworks relating to this, including the one we proposed in chapter 2, which involves stakes, assets, strategic alliances and means of action, and is largely inspired by the works of Bernoux (1985) and Friedberg (1988).


As an example, we shall return to the analysis of case no. 4: the press agency.
Table 16: Analysis of stakeholders in the case of the press agency STAKEHOLDERS STAKES Management Cutting costs, competitiveness, flexibility to respond to the diversification of demands, maintaining corporate harmony Maintaining specialist skills, defence of the profession ASSETS Financial resources, Drawing up rules STRATEGIC ALLIANCES Avoiding confrontation with unions MEANS OF ACTION Tolerant introduction of the new information system Daily negotiation of slots of work, warming up, race to excessive quality, duplication of media, emphasis on complexity Distribution of work within the desk, exclusivity of the most valued tasks (summary, end of the day) Strike action, negotiating a model collective agreement


Professional expertise

Alliance with head redactors, clandestine self-management justified by quality

Head redactor

Maintaining old hierarchical prerogatives (distribution of work) Avoiding redundancies, defence of previously existing skills (telex operators), defence of journalists working conditions

Professional expertise, method of applying the rules

Alliance with redactors


Marginal-secant (relationships with the whole press sector)

Objective alliance with redactors and staff under threat (telex operators)

It is in the managers interest to correctly identify these stakeholders and their assets, for it is only by carrying out detailed analyses of this kind that they will be able to anticipate the obstacles that are liable to arise on the one hand (rejections, sabotages, underuse, parallel practices, complaints, etc.), and the support they are likely to win on the other (even if this does not necessarily take the form intended by the project designers). In relation to our predictive hypotheses, it is important to locate where the areas of expertise lie among the various sources of power or assets that each stakeholder possesses, and to assess how official they are. Indeed, we know that legitimate expertise, which is often possessed by skilled operators, will probably be the cause of specific attitudes to change, which will not necessarily be found in cases of implicit or clandestine expertise. Identifying stakeholders is also likely to make managers more aware of the training, information and redeployment policies to be implemented. By analysing the reasons why some stakeholders feel threatened and consequently offering them a currency that matches their interests, in particular by officialising their areas of expertise, they in fact have every chance of transforming losers, who are virtually adversaries of change, into potential winners, who are likely to get involved or at least not go against the process under way. This is the option that was finally taken, in the case of the document management system in the police force, when the


resource people and documentation experts were given priority in allocating the new equipment. Such a task of political analysis seems essential to us as it is ultimately the organisation members, and they alone, who will sanction the success or failure of the change. In a way it lays the necessary foundations for a polyphonic management style: only after identifying the stakeholders may compromises, alliances or oppositions be developed. This was the reasoning of the managers of the air freight company (case no. 3), who managed to draw lessons from the image survey, which was conducted not only in the outside world but also internally. By clarifying the promotion processes and seeking to put an end to the short-circuiting of the middle line, they attempted to echo the stakes of the operators and team leaders and thus transform them, with the support of one of the unions, into potential agents of change. As shown in table 16, the identification of the stakeholders, their stakes and assets is only one part of the task of contextualisation. It is also essential to analyse their ability to form strategic alliances and the type of means of action they are likely to deploy. This is the aim of the two following points. 5.2.4. Analysing internal and external mobilisation capacities Stakeholders who decide to bring their assets into play around a change process do not act in isolation. The often try to form strategic alliances with a particular interest group: thus, at the press agency (case no. 4), redactors and deskers create an obstacle due to the clandestine organisation of their work. The alliances formed between interest groups will inevitably affect the course of the change. Most of them have a relatively high degree of predictability and may therefore be anticipated as part of a political analysis. The stakeholders mobilisation capacities, i.e. how likely they are to join with other stakeholders who are keen to defend their specific interests and create strategic alliances with them, are not only exercised within the organisation, between internal stakeholders. They may also involve the outside world, for example by trying to persuade a particular external stakeholder to join their side (the press, the university world, a competitor, etc.). Here again, the stakeholders mobilisation capacities are relatively predictable and may be understood from the start of the change process. To illustrate the political game typologies presented by Mintzberg (1986, pp.268-307) and Keen (1981, pp. 28-32), below is a brief outline of some of the forms that the mobilisation of allies can take: the sponsorship game, in which a stakeholder or stakeholder group seeks the protection of a socially recognised personality or group, with whom they implicitly agree to exchange favours; the alliance-building game (keep the peace) , in which a simple interest group formed around a particular problem progressively turns into a faction, sharing several problems of different types, and finally an alliance, when members of other interest groups have been won over to the cause; the appointment of candidates to strategic positions (pile on), a process in which certain stakeholders attempt to make their point of view prevail in the change management


process (for example within an orientation committee), using the legitimate authority system; the whistle-blowing game, in which a stakeholder or stakeholder group, often in a relatively weak position in the hierarchy, bypasses the legitimate chain of authority and informs an external stakeholder of an injustice they believe they are suffering, usually in secret, out of fear of punishment; the Young Turks game (up for grabs), in which certain stakeholders attempt to present themselves to other internal and external stakeholders as the champions of a radical change, by demanding a fundamental reorientation of business strategy, the replacement of the current management team, a redefinition of the organisations basic values, etc.

Thus, in the case of the public administration undergoing modernisation (case no. 1), the opponents of the project played a kind of whistle-blowing game, by calling on external stakeholders (the Council of State), whose judgments were likely to support their position and seriously put the brakes on the reform. It is obviously essential to take the stakeholders mobilisation capacities into account when managing a change process, as they determine the stature of the different stakeholders and consequently the scale of the conflicts that are likely to arise. Let us return to the police institution: if the documentation experts are isolated, and only defend their threatened position without managing to mobilise other stakeholders; or if, on the contrary, they succeed in persuading the other field officers that it will be best for them not to waste time searching for documents with no external help; or if they raise the risk of an increased individualisation of responsibilities (if you make a procedural mistake, they will say you have not consulted your documentation and it will be your fault), their influence on the future of the system will be quite different. 5.2.5. Anticipating the means of action likely to be deployed The question of the means of action follows on directly from the analysis of mobilisation capacities. Given the structure of the games between stakeholders, it is in fact possible to anticipate, with a relatively low margin of probability, the concrete behaviours they are likely to adopt with a view to defending their interests. Detached from the context in which they appear, such behaviours might appear totally absurd to the change project managers and would then be denounced as is often the case in reality in terms of resistance to change, natural laziness among the operators, inability to adapt, etc. Polyphonic management precisely intends to distance itself from appraisals of this kind. In order to make progress in our reflection, it is important to remember that any change project must be accompanied by an attempt to rationalise the way the organisation functions, in order to increase productivity in particular. In fact, the way it redistributes the cards between the different groups and stakeholders makes this a site of confrontation and a stake of crucial importance. To help us identify the means of action likely to be deployed by the stakeholders involved, it is helpful to distinguish between different logical levels in the pursuit of increased productivity29.


On this subject, see Pichault (1990, pp. 102-103).


The increase in productivity may first be analysed in terms of the quantity produced within a given period of work: this is the output of the operators concerned. It may also lead to an extension of the range of products or services offered. We shall refer to this as an increase in physical productivity. It may also be linked to a more rigorous management of operational activities and relations with the outside world (supply, finance, distribution). It then results in an attempt to cut costs (staff, equipment, stocks, debtor interest, etc.). We shall describe these as various ways of increasing productivity in value. Yet the two forms above obviously only have meaning if they are accompanied by tools for monitoring delivery more closely. In this area, information technologies provide multiple possibilities that frequently lead to an individualisation of the control function: identifying operators by code number, accounting for the number of mistakes per workstation and the number of operations recorded, calculating the activity score (weighted according to the type of service provided), imposing formal procedures and taking account of any failure to follow these, automating the pace of work, etc. However, there are other means to achieve this end: quality indicators, customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, etc. This reading framework enables us to determine the types of means of action that the stakeholders are likely to implement and their respective chances of appearing. If the change project is aimed at increasing physical productivity, the means of action likely to be deployed will above all concern the intensification of the pace of work, and will logically take the form of slowing behaviours, as these are classically identified in the sociology of work30: over-preparation for the work to be done, preliminary warm-up, race to excessive quality, excessive zeal, etc. If the change project is above all aimed at increasing productivity in value, the means of action we should expect to encounter will probably tend to manifest themselves in the form of maintenance duly justified of the old working methods, juxtaposition of redundant procedures and even wastefulness31, consolidation of prior social gains (especially in terms of jobs or pay), etc. Finally, if the change project mainly consists of reinforcing the control function, we should expect to see the appearance of means of action that attempt to avoid the effects of such a reinforcement: blind typing on the screen32, collectivising the processing of operations by

30 31

Friedmann (1946), Durand (1978), Bernoux (1979), Girin & Grosjean (1996). On this subject, see the wig concept presented by Bernoux: The wig is characterised simultaneously by its pointlessness, its gratuitousness, and at the same time its function of affirmation in the face of the work organisation and the bond within the group of companions. The things produced will be of no use to the worker or to the factory (...) but producing them remains the only way of affirming ones freedom in the face of mechanisation and the power of the hierarchy (1979, p.79). 32 Blind typing consists of typing information without checking what appears on the screen. This behaviour is the cause of many errors in records and consequently increases the number of corrections needed. It is a form of derision towards an overly strict control system, which appears very clearly in the declaration made by the information officer we interviewed in the context of a computerised library: I dont even proofread what I type anymore because it will be reviewed by a manager anyway. Everything is corrected in detail by the office


exchanging operator code numbers, artificially inflating productivity scores by increasing the number of auxiliary activities, falsifying control systems by cheating, failing to follow the instructions and standardised procedures in order to regain room for manoeuvre, etc. The change may be situated at several levels at once: we will therefore see corresponding means of action appearing for each one. It would be wrong to think that anticipating the means of action can help us reduce dead time, track hidden costs, or wage war on abuses of all kinds: this would be a lapse into the panoptical temptation, which we have denounced above. On the contrary, identifying the main stakeholders and analysing their internal and external mobilisation capacities helps us to restore a certain logical form to the concrete behaviours observed: these are in no way irrational manifestations of resistance to change or failure to adapt to progress, but rather are perfectly consistent practices in defending or conquering interests. On the other hand, it is important to take account of the means of action likely to be deployed by the various stakeholders involved as soon as the change process begins: radical reorientations may consequently be decided upon. Thus, in a situation where the operators are expected to emphasise their professional specificity to justify a given form of the race to excessive quality, is it not pointless to try to impose systematic productivity monitoring procedures on them at all costs? Is it not better to see such a deviation of the system as proof of its appropriation and continue to play the quality card by developing effective tools to assist users, which have the potential to promote and even reinforce their professional excellence? The contextualisation phase, based on characterising the influence system (mostly centripetal or centrifugal) and identifying relationships between stakeholders (informal communication circuits, stakeholders, means of action and mobilisation capacities), must be validated by the stakeholders concerned, in some cases grouped together in a project steering committee (see below). Validation is not always achieved. It will often be preceded by debates over the need for this phase (Whats the point? We already knew that) or attempts to make things more complicated (Its not that simple!). It might take some time but once achieved, it paves the way for the following phases. 5.2.6. Identifying a translator33 After the influence system and relationships between stakeholders have been analysed, all the conditions have been meet for identifying a translator who will be in charge of ensuring that the various interests involved are taken into consideration and can find satisfaction in the end. The following criteria are referred to when identifying people who could carry out this role: Legitimacy

manager. They make us make corrections for trifles but since thats how it is, I no longer pay attention to what Im doing. 33 This section is to a great extent inspired by the study carried out by our research centre (Rocher, 2003, pp. 2628).


The translator must be recognised at the organisations different levels (hierarchical and functional) as someone who is able to consider and unite all the interests involved. Their requests for action must be followed up by effective action. To this end, they must be formally appointed by the hierarchy and relieved of part of their usual workload so they can fulfil this role. Credibility The translator must be recognised by their peers and colleagues as someone who has the necessary skills to fulfil this role. They must have a thorough knowledge of the organisation, its various inner workings and the jobs people do in it. The managerial skills needed to fulfil this function include the ability to analyse and evaluate critical situations, proper conflict management, powers of persuasion, equity, respect for people, etc. Equidistance The translator must be perceived as sufficiently distant from the different stages and interests involved in the project, and have no direct interest in the project themselves.

Identifying the translator is a particularly delicate operation. Particular attention must be paid to the translators time commitments in order to guarantee their availability for change management. This commitment also reflects the organisations willingness to invest in change management and may be considered as an indicator of the organisations adoption of a polyphonic management style34. Identifying the translator may sometimes take a while, as shown by the example below, where a project manager progressively discovers and appropriates the role of translator. From official translator to translator by default Our research team was in charge of assisting with a project to reconfigure processes at an insurance company. A project manager was appointed by management. The different translator identification criteria were met and time was allocated, as described above. This project manager had no particular stake in the reorganisation process, and occupied a sufficiently superior role to ensure that their requests would be followed up by effective action. However, they did not really appropriate their role and they had difficulty in translating the proposed methodology to the different categories of participant. Given their distance from and lack of involvement in the project, a young employee, an assistant to the sales management team, began to spontaneously play this role of translator by default: he saw it as an immediate advantage in terms of career opportunities. He possessed adequate technical skills (insurance business) and experience in the field (visits to several local offices) to fulfil this role. He managed to understand the stakes linked to the different stages of the process to be optimised, and translate them to the steering committee members. From the first meetings onward, he took the initiative to reformulate the proposed methodology, by developing his own ways of presenting the process, and adapting it to the organisational context and to the process concerned. Yet he still did not have sufficient institutional legitimacy to occupy this position. The start of the project was therefore marked by a to-andfro movement between the official project manager, who validated the work as it progressed,

Ideally, in order to guarantee that the change will effectively take hold in the organisation, the translator must be an internal stakeholder. However, it may be that the conditions for this appointment are not met: excessively intense conflicts, a major crisis in which no stakeholder wants to get involved, lack of skills matching the profile, etc. At that point an external stakeholder will be called upon to play this role by default.


and the interventions of the translator by default. Gradually, the project manager managed to spend more time on the project, by appropriating his role of translator as he discovered it. He really took the measure of it when he had to persuade the steering committee to validate the proposed reengineering solutions, and hierarchise the different solution paths. Thus, several weeks after the project had started, the project sponsor ended up translating the whole set of solutions and interests expressed by the actors involved. In particular, he worked on reformulating the summary report designed to justify the proposed orientations for technological development to the decision-making authorities. He thus became the sponsor of the process reconfiguration projects at the company, as his unofficial alter ego gradually returned to the rank of simple participant, albeit not without having been noticed by the human resources management team and appreciated by all the participants in the project. Whether the translator is appointed ex ante or emerges along the way, it is important to stress that they are not the only person fulfilling this function. The project steering committee (see next point), made up of representatives of the different components of the network that is being formed, also participate in it. However, while the translator is not the only sponsor of the process, they must be its real linchpin and guarantee that the interests of all parties are taken into account in the process. 5.2.7. Mobilising and enrolling spokespeople for the different stakeholders Once the contextualisation phase is complete, we can begin the enrolment phase. This means involving and mobilising all the stakeholders involved in change management. A project steering committee will then be put in place, made up of representatives of the different stakeholders identified during the contextual analysis phase. The involvement of these representatives should be formalised. In the translation process, steering committee members act as real spokespeople for their interest group, and as interfaces between the operational project team and the group they represent. In principle, appointments should be proposed by the translator, if applicable in collaboration with the person responsible for the contextual analysis. Next, it should be validated by each of the groups represented and by the organisations managers. When forming the steering committee, the translator must ensure that each interest group identified during the contextual analysis is represented, not forgetting the project leader, where applicable. The latter must be closely associated with the change management process (if they have not been identified as a translator). They must also ensure that each representative is seen as legitimate and credible by their group and other steering committee members. From the outset, they must implement two important principles of translation methodology: interest and enrolment. They must ensure that each person has a direct, concrete interest in the role they will be called on to play in the committee, on the one hand, and make sure that this role is explicit and clearly defined, on the other. Once the membership of the steering committee has been validated, it is important for its members to be assigned an active role and a concrete mission. Each persons role must be defined by the translator according to the interests identified in the contextual analysis. As well as identifying the spokespeople, it is important to resolve two other questions at this stage. First we must define the point at which it is a good idea to involve the spokespeople:


from the beginning of the process, when they do not yet really define themselves as stakeholders, or later on in the process, at the risk of excluding them from the decisive orientation stages? Admittedly, even after being consulted, many stakeholders still behave unpredictably, despite the project managers steadfast commitment to the principles of involvement. However, if they are only consulted once, quite early on in the process, it will be no surprise if they change their attitude later. Any consensus obtained under these conditions risks being very fragile: it is more than likely to be called into question once the stakeholders have formed a more concrete perception of the threat, or on the contrary the gains that the change represents in the defence of their interests. Only from this point will they be capable of developing appropriate defensive or offensive strategies, (Agro, Cornet and Pichault, 1995). In general, however, it seems that it is preferable to involve the spokespeople upstream of the change process, even if this will be updated several times along the way. Thus, Hyclak and Kolchin (1986) recommend involving the stakeholders concerned from the first phases of the change, insofar as this enables us to promptly identify some of the problems that are likely to emerge. Next, we must settle the question of their modalities of involvement: direct participation in meetings or work groups, expressing their opinions during targeted interviews, answering standardised questionnaires, listing the most frequently asked questions (FAQS), simply observing their behaviour, etc.? Direct participation by spokespeople in meetings and work groups is likely to anchor their subsequent involvement in the process more solidly. The degree, level, form and even time of involvement may vary according to the stakeholders in question. The translators art will consist of managing to combine these various modalities of spokesperson involvement. 5.2.8. Formalising a common objective Change management by translation requires the steering committee to guide the execution of actions to create convergence, and ensure that all stakeholders involved in the project are mobilised. Thus begins the problematisation phase. The translators first concrete action consists of establishing the minimum amount of convergence necessary for the project to start, by formalising a common objective or at least a common way of positioning the problem to be solved. By following the suggestions put forward by Amblard et al. (1996), an interesting connection between the theories of translation and conventions may be envisaged. We know that the latter theory enables us to distinguish between a number of orders of worth or polities in which the legitimacy of a single argument is evaluated differently. When the stakeholders involved in a change process do not agree, several modalities of action are available for the translator to formalise a common objective. The first clarification consists of bringing all the participants in the debate to a single order of worth where it will be easier for them all to evaluate the action undertaken in the same way, based on shared values. The second arrangement consists of basing the agreement on a transaction that attempts to construct a satisfactory solution for everyone without the different protagonists all having to subscribe to the values of a single order of worth. The third compromise


manages to assemble components specific to different polities, often by using a common superior principle shared by several polities: a problem with falling turnover may be framed in terms of improving the effectiveness of processes (industrial polity) or optimising sales performance (market polity). One compromise might consist of looking for the means necessary to keep constant employment and guarantee the well-being of the surrounding community. The common objective is then formulated in terms of pursuit of the common good or the general interest (civic polity). This third modality will often be the one that emerges from a steering committee, where the spokespeople for the different stakeholders are assembled. This task of formalising a common objective sometimes has to be carried out with the help of an external party who then takes on the role of translator, like in the case below, which followed one of our research centres interventions. Towards a reformulation of the objective of change At this milk-producing company, our intervention was requested by the factory manager, who had already met us during a previous intervention at the parent company. As an engineer, he had just been appointed to manage the factory, but admitted that he did not know much about management problems. According to him, the problem to be solved was above all a serious lack of motivation among staff in one of the older parts of the factory, where working conditions were particularly difficult (noise, dust, etc.). One of the main reasons put forward by the manager was the presence of a production manager, whose technical expertise was recognised by all, but whose managerial skills seemed disputable to say the least. From the outset, we suspected that the explanation given was not sufficient and that we should go beyond the individual deficiency of a single manager to include problems with work organisation, hierarchical structure and HRM policy. Hence, we proposed to expand the scope of the investigation and meet stakeholders from different sectors of the factory during in-depth interviews. We ended up uncovering a total lack of formalisation in organisational decision-making and HRM, which was the cause of many dysfunctions at the company. The manager who stood accused was in fact just the scapegoat for a more widespread phenomenon. The manager seemed to accept this reformulation of the problem in more organisational terms. However, we quickly learned that when presenting our intervention, he had focused on the need to evaluate skills and identify relationship problems, which only helped to spread the rumour that the scheduled interviews were nothing more than a trip to the shrink with the aim of getting rid of staff. We had to deploy a great deal of energy and power of persuasion to erase this negative image, which had caused the attitudes of selfprotection and passive resistance. We asked if we could present the problem ourselves, as we had reformulated it, in front of all the staff. It was a case of showing that it was not a question of individual skills evaluations, but rather an issue with the structure of the organisation. We especially insisted on the fact that the feedback process would be totally transparent, and would be carried out collectively, in front of all the companys staff. We thus launched the problematisation phase, in order to create the minimum amount of convergence necessary.


Formalising a common objective thus enables us to start from just one statement about the controversy to be resolved, and will obviously guide all the subsequent actions to be undertaken. Such a process can take time but is the sine qua non condition of a search for solutions that all the protagonists can truly appropriate. 5.2.9. Abandoning the myth of the predetermination of tasks and reform of current practices We know how much the quest for transparency, the desire to reduce uncertainties and, more generally, the phenomenon we call panoptical temptation always figure prominently in most change projects, particularly in the case of information systems. It is true, as several authors have shown, that these tend to favour the tendency towards rationalisation by their very nature. On this subject, Pav writes about hyperfunctionalism: The process of analysis and programming leads to the total transparency of the information system: nothing can remain in the shadows. Moreover, this is an extensive process as we start with one problem and are led far beyond it (...). Therefore, the remarkable thing about the computerisation process is that we start from a concrete organisational reality, which we organise or reorganise according to a functionalist way of thinking, and then this analysis is itself tested, streamlined and rationalised again. We then move from an objective reality to a second degree reality. We move from functionalism to hyperfunctionalism (1989, pp. 239-240). Although they relate to classic computing, these words still apply perfectly to ERP software programs or, in a more general sense, to process reengineering projects that rely largely on information technologies. The basic question is consequently the following one: is it possible to embark on change projects based on ICTs that are not fundamentally attempts at codifying activities? In this respect, do recent technological developments whether they are decisionmaking tools or collaborative platforms enable us to escape the reign of predetermination? Although they are scalable, do not rule out any possibilities a priori and prove themselves malleable according to local contextual characteristics, such tools usually correspond to a rationalising advance, with the ultimate objective always being to structure, create coherence, remove pointless stages, accelerate processing, and formalise procedures to guarantee greater effectiveness and/or better quality. The fact remains that if this is the sole objective of a change project, there is a high risk of seeing the emergence of reactions of rejection, underuse, boycotting or avoidance (in the case of a centripetal influence system) or the formation of autonomous territories and proliferation of specific know-how (in the case of a centrifugal influence system). Any project aimed solely at imposing a stricter codification of activities indeed risks favouring what we referred to earlier as regressive political activities, the very ones that lead to failure or, at all events, to an undesirable situation on the organisational level. Therefore, at all costs, we must abandon the idea that we must take advantage of change to reform current practices deemed unsatisfactory, irrational, redundant, old-fashioned, etc. and introduce better ones. Unfortunately, too many change project managers still labour under this illusion: take the case of the document management system in the police force. Starting from a normative analysis of existing information flows, they favoured an ideal model of organisation and designed the whole project as if this model were now in place. The difficulties encountered later were then attributed to certain groups failure to adapt or the rigidity of the


organisation to be reformed. At no point did anyone question the main flaw in the systems design: the fact that it was built on a normative model and not on a concrete reality. We should note that the panoptical temptation whether it takes the shape of a predetermination of tasks or a reform of current practices is inevitably accompanied by a reinforcement, or even an individualisation, of control procedures. Many change projects are still designed in this perspective, which is not unrelated to current developments in management: we cannot stress enough the paradoxes of organisational principles such as total quality, process reengineering or knowledge management, which are essentially based on the formalisation of activities recording of procedures in writing with a view to certification (Mispelblom, 1995), detailed description of current and desired ways of working (Hammer & Champy, 1993), transformation of implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) at a time when many organisational theorists are on the contrary arguing in favour of adopting flexible structures, decentralising decision-making, giving operators autonomy and valuing their initiatives (Sgrestin, 2004). Operators will tend to be opposed to the panoptical management style precisely because it means a restricting their room for manoeuvre through closer monitoring of their activities. Yet it is quite possible to design change projects which are more open to the multitude of rationalities and which do not automatically take the form of a reduction of areas of uncertainty... In this respect, Wilson seems to set out the terms of the alternative clearly: The essential task [of management] is either to achieve greater creativity in formal strategic planning, or to abandon the idea of rational economic decisions altogether and instead focus attention upon analysing and managing the conflict and politics inside and outside the organization. (1992, p. 125). In their famous article on collaborative working tools, Orlikowski & Hofman (1997) thus argue in favour of an improvisational style of change management, in which periods of planning alternate with periods that are more open to unforeseen innovations: An improvisational model, however, is not anarchy. And neither is it a matter of muddling through. We are not implying that planning is unnecessary or should be abandoned. We are suggesting, instead, that a plan is a guide rather than a blueprint and that deviations from the plan, rather than being seen as a symptom of failure, are to be expected and actively managed (1997, p. 20). 5.2.10. Avoiding the search for consensus and favouring compromises Conflict is often considered by contemporary management theories as a temporary organisational dysfunction, which must be overcome at all costs by appropriate means. Let us refer to the typology presented by March and Simon (1969) to analyse managerial reactions to the appearance of conflicts: (a) problem-solving Managers at the organisation may first attempt to end conflict situations by encouraging the search for additional information and new solutions, with a view to solving the problems that seem to be the cause of the conflicts.


(b) persuasion Managers may also seek to modify the organisation members objectives, by persuading them that their own positions are justified. Implicit in the use of persuasion is the belief that, at some level, goals are shared and that disagreement over subgoals can mediated by reference to common goals. It relies less on information-gathering than the problem-solving activity (...). As with problem-solving, however, the phenomenon of evocation will play a considerable role in this case, the evocation of appropriate criteria (i.e. objectives that have not yet been taken into account) (1969, p. 128). (c) trade-off A third possible strategy is the trade-off, which leads to the development of a more or less longterm compromise. One of the main questions that usually arises in trade-off theory is to what extent the trade-off solutions are the result of appeals to common happy medium or clear-cut values (and thus, according to our terms, values of persuasion), rather than a fight involving stubbornness, power, etc. (...). In each case, we can identify a trade-off method by its well-known array of conflicts of interest, threats, falsification of positions, and (in general) strategy (1969, p. 128). (d) alliances and power relationships Finally, managers may implement a more directly political method35, by forming strategic alliances and unilateral power relationships with certain groups in order to make a particular viewpoint prevail. The first two types of reaction are fundamentally rationalist by nature: they consider that conflicts, linked to the existence of contradictory individual goals, are temporary and can always be overcome. March and Simon describe them as analytical reactions. The last two types draw more on political strategies and acknowledge the decisive role of power relationships between individuals or between groups. This time, disagreement over objectives is presented as an item of structural data that there is no point trying to eliminate or overcome. However, political strategies are very rare, as they represent certain risks for the organisation, as March and Simon note: As a decision-making process, negotiation has potentially destructive effects on the organisation. Negotiation almost always places constraints on status and power systems within the organisation. If those who are formally the most powerful win, the perception of differences in status and power within the organisation (...) will be reinforced. If they do not have the upper hand, their position is weakened. Moreover, negotiation acknowledges and legitimises the heterogeneity of goals within the organisation (1969, p. 129).


March and Simon describe this fourth type as political, however we feel that this term may also be applied to the third type, which explicitly refers to the existence of conflicts of interest, threats, etc.


This is why management teams generally tend to prefer more analytical reactions, even if these end up being inappropriate to the circumstances. Moreover, when they reluctantly have to resort to politics, this will very often be hidden beneath an arsenal of various problem-solving or persuasive practices. While they mobilise different social relationship mechanisms, analytical reactions are quite similar to each other: indeed, do attempts at persuasion not often resort to selection and biased interpretation of information36? As for the two political reactions, these are distinguished more by the extent to which they contain a prioris about the power of stakeholders and their capacity to mobilise the relevant resources. If we are looking to reach a compromise (attitude c), we assume that the opposite side will agree to adjust their position somewhat, to eat humble pie, to negotiate. The disagreement over objectives remains, yet there are good reasons to think that both parties might come to an agreement on a kind of medium term where everyone will gain something, while having to make some concessions. If we resort to establishing unilateral power relationships (attitude d), we assume that the opposite side will not give in and will constantly wield the threat of an exit37, by invoking their expertise for example. We will then try to locate any possible alliances, or, failing that, oppositions to play on. One of the means frequently proposed to solve conflict situations linked to a change process is based on the participation or involvement38 of operators. Nowadays it is good form to consider that no change process may be successfully completed if it is solely designed from the top down, without consulting the main interested parties. Yet we still need to agree on how these operators will be involved. Beyond the formal differences between methodologies of involvement (simple prior consultation versus real involvement in decision-making, negotiation on downstream versus upstream, etc.), most of them continue to present a relatively peaceful image of organisational life. Indeed, it would be possible bring together interests that seem a priori to contradict each other pursuit of an increase in productivity and improvement of working conditions, for example by directly involving the stakeholders concerned by the definition of the solutions that will be implemented. From such a perspective, conflicts last for a limited period of time and the procedures that are put in place are precisely designed to prevent their appearance or to fulfil a cathartic function after the conflict has been allowed to express itself, it should be possible to find a solution.


Pfeffer (1981, pp.115-122) distinguishes between several types of manipulative action, depending on whether the action is performed on the constraints attached to a decision-making process (premises), on the number of solutions taken into account (alternatives) and the way these solutions may be perceived (information about alternatives). 37 Here we refer to the three possible attitudes that organisation members are likely to adopt, according to Hirschman (1972): submitting to authority (loyalty), criticising authority (voice) and leaving the organisation altogether (exit). 38 The term participation seems more closely linked to the trend for questioning the Taylorian model and the success in the 70s of the utopias of democratisation in corporate life (for an example, see the concept of participative systems design presented by Mumford, 1981). On the other hand, the term involvement, which is certainly less connotative, has been increasingly used in managerial literature on information systems (Agro, Cornet & Pichault, 1995).


The major threat to these approaches is that they may end up being reduced to a more or less systematic application of methodologies or models designed to put an end to the resistances and diversions observed when the change was introduced. At the end of an interesting critical analysis of the participative approach accompanying the implementation of a networking project at a French administration, David and Peyraut thus conclude: The participative approach, which was meant to humanise the excessively technocratic side of the project, was in fact just one more procedure in a general context of formalism. Admittedly, it may appear to ensure corporate harmony but in no way does it create the necessary conditions for staff mobilisation, a real transformation of working methods and a new way of sharing responsibilities (1986, p.161). If there is one idea that polyphonic management is opposed to, it is that of appeasing conflicts by using formalised procedures, established a priori. Indeed, such a management style is still seen from the perspective of a single rationality. As Alter states with reference to information technologies, polyphonic management recognises stakeholders who pursue contradictory objectives and are consequently capable of deploying their strategies, with a view to appropriating the change process in their own way: These observations enable us to put forward the hypothesis that the success of a technical change cannot be reduced to a participative, negotiated introduction: it may also arise from oppositions during use. Contrary to the observations and advice of North American psychosociology, the key to success does not necessarily lie in a scheduled introduction of the technique on a social or human level, since perception of the stake only comes with practice (...). Optimisation of the technique does not necessarily depend on excluding sources of friction as much as possible, but on the contrary depends on them developing or appearing. (...) (It) can therefore not avoid conflict and a transformation of the games (1985, pp.101-102). It would undoubtedly be a mistake to think that exposing the mechanisms of power by following a participative approach would make it easier to reach a consensus, under the pretext that it would offer a common reading of the reality and would have a cathartic effect in some way. Yet this is the viewpoint defended by Moullet: Revealing deep-seated structures enables the different parties to come out of the fray and share the same observational viewpoint, without losing touch with the facts and reality. This consensus is essential for the following stages (1992, p.233). On the contrary, the expression of different parties interests is necessarily conflictual as it establishes and legitimises polyphony. Such a process of exposure itself becomes the subject of negotiations and power relationships between contradictory interpretations. Therein lies the difference between a consensus where the different protagonists end up agreeing and sharing the same vision and a compromise where the different parties recognise the contradictory nature of their interests but accept to coexist for a time. The search for consensus, or conflict resolution, using more or less proven means (bonus, symbolic bonus, training, collaboration, etc.) rejects the fundamental postulate of all polyphonic management: the fact that confrontation may be a source of innovation, as Bisno reminds us. Bisno believes that stimulating conflicts is one of the surest ways of managing them:


Conflict management avoids the limiting assumption that the goal of all effective conflict related activity should be its resolution. Our viewpoint on this terminology is related to the point made earlier that conflict can be a constructive, indeed vital, aspect of the human drama (1991, p.75). Armed with this viewpoint, certain authors recommend containing the potentially subversive character of participation within parallel structures that exist alongside the normal organisation. As an example, this is how one of the champions of innovative business thinks participation should be organised: An innovating organization needs at least two organizations, two ways of arraying and using its people. It needs a hierarchy with specified tasks and functional groupings for carrying out what it already knows how to do, that it can anticipate will be the same in the future. But it also needs a set of flexible vehicles for figuring out how to do what it does not yet know for encouraging entrepreneurs and engaging the grass roots as well as the elite in the mastery of innovation and change (Moss Kanter, 1983, p.205). The same idea is defended by the proponents of the ambidextrous organisation (OReilly & Tushman, 2004), for whom innovation lies in developing entities dedicated exclusively to exploration (generation of new knowledge) within the organisation, alongside those devoted to making use of existing knowledge. Specific coordination and management systems must be devised for these two types of entity (one looser and more community-oriented, the other more formalised and hierarchical), as overall coordination is provided at the general management level. Seen this way, participation becomes a matter for experts, who are ready to invest in change projects, but this does not change the way the organisation normally works. Especially when the organisation is made up of unskilled operators, who tend to perceive change as more of a threat than a stake, the double structure proposed by Moss Kanter or the ambidextrous structure suggested by OReilly & Tushman risk leading the stakeholders concerned by the change to divert or even simply reject projects they see as having been designed without their involvement and with the aim of rationalising their behaviour. If, on the contrary, all the organisation members can organise their working time in such a way as to include both exploration activities and exploitation activities, new practices have a greater chance of emerging from their interactions, with management then having the task of recognising, evaluating and institutionalising those they feel are relevant (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002), as we will see below. 5.2.11. Promoting unforeseen innovations and appropriations Abandoning the myth of the predetermination of tasks presupposes a fundamentally new attitude towards the practices of appropriation and innovation that arise in the face of the rules (old and/or new ones). The role of the middle line which traditionally consisted of relaying information from top to bottom and from bottom to top, on the one hand, and ensuring that the rules and instructions formulated by experts and analysts were followed, on the other is of paramount importance here. For middle-ranking and lower-ranking executives, this is a shift


from a logic of institutionalisation by rule, no more, no less which until now has formed the basis of their identity to a logic of conflictual innovation. They are no longer able to hide behind respect for the rules or plans established a priori. They must accept the transition from a rationalising planning mode in which they benefited from a recognised role in the company which they did not have to justify to the ongoing corporate change experiment that now places them in situations of uncertainty where their managerial capacities are constantly tested. This is where the concept of support for innovation becomes meaningful. This concept is a long way from the attempts to redeploy executives who are threatened by their jobs being restructured into the roles of coaches, group organisers, team coordinators and staff motivators, as part of a project intended to generate enthusiasm among their colleagues39. The role that this local hierarchy is meant to play, according to certain authors (Bournois & Peretti, 2001), is similar to that of human resources manager. Nonetheless, such a catalytic role is still seen from the perspective of a convergence of interests and a reduction of conflict sources by using classic techniques of motivation theory and group dynamics. It is only a simple rearrangement of the existing system, in which the managers role may be different, but is still seen from a consensual perspective. Support for innovation is on the contrary founded on recognising dissent and the divergence of interests. It leads to the formation of temporary alliances of interest. For it is indeed a case of interest: The fact that the fate of a project depends on the alliances it makes possible and the interests it mobilises explains why there is no criteria or algorithm that guarantees success a priori. Rather than discussing the rationality of decisions, we should be talking about the aggregation of interests that they are or are not capable of producing. Innovation is the art of creating interest among a growing number of allies who make one stronger and stronger (Akrich, Callon et Latour, 1988, p. 14). In reality, support for innovation is often present in lower-ranking management practices, in an implicit and latent way. As we move up the hierarchy, a different type of alliance is formed: in fact it is not uncommon to see the middle and higher-ranking executives take the side of the analysts, as their loyalism enables them to benefit from part of the aura of the change promoters. However, this strategy is not always a success, as it puts them in direct conflict with the base, and the wind of change may suddenly turn against them (for example, following a regulatory intervention by management, which is aimed at calming the game down and ends up legitimising the operators deviant practices). It is therefore at this level that the perspective of a polyphonic management style requires the biggest change to practices. Rather than forming an alliance with experts in order to win or share legitimacy within the organisation, middle and higher-ranking executives are invited to support the emergence and affirmation of an identity of innovation, even when it seems to them

Yet such is the solution proposed by Crozier in response to the problem of surplus executives at a time when post-industrial management is going down the path of drastically reducing the number of hierarchical levels: The transformation of the executives role is closely linked to this reduction in the number of levels. If the executives functions diversify, if their central mission becomes that of an organiser and no longer a hierarchical leader, we will need a greater number of high-level specialists who are capable of bringing more specialised skills and facilitating cooperation, exchanges, training and development for all operational staff (1989, p. 80).


that this contradicts the rules and values advocated by the change promoters. Stepping outside of their traditional role as guardians of the law, they are invited to play negotiators between the base (the operational centre and local hierarchy) and the apex (the management team via the analysts). Undoubtedly, distancing themselves from their allies of yesterday will put them in a more uncomfortable position. Undoubtedly, the experts will try to lobby management to make them recognise that their positions are right. Undoubtedly, the conflicts will not be appeased at the end of such a process. However, as we know, the reality of an organisation is necessarily conflictual. This means that if they want to achieve a concrete result, the methods of government must not seek to remove the conflict, but on the contrary must prove capable of facing it in all its diversity, discontinuity and multidimensionality. The shift to constant experimentation requires the dogma of controlled planning to be definitively abandoned: while a temporary solution may appear, linked to a particular stakeholder group, it will never put an end to the power relationships and conflicts. Other deviations will inevitably arise this takes us back to the cyclical nature of Salernis diagram, examined above to which attention must be paid in order to bring them the support they merit. What could support for innovation consist of? A concrete situation will help us to illustrate this concept: that of the document management system in the police force, which we have already mentioned several times. A document management system in the police force (continued) As stated earlier, the initial project aimed to equip all the operators with laptop PCs so that they could access the documentation in real time. A steering committee had been put in place, bringing together the managers of the information systems (IS) department, the user representatives at the different levels of the structure, the members of the general management team concerned by the project and the engineers from the IT consulting company in charge of drawing up the list of specifications. Faced with the determination of the IS department, which intended to reform the existing practices by implementing an effective document tool, the general outlook was optimistic. Most of the members of the general management team had been convinced that the position defended jointly by the IS department and the IT consulting company was the right one. As for the future pilot users, most of them went along with this view of things, in the hope of beneficial effects in career terms. Only a few senior executives dared to take an attitude similar to the one that we defended. They essentially said, The operator is most probably right to avoid constantly referring to their documentation, as this would considerably hinder their ability to work effectively. Instead, lets start from what they are doing, and observe when and how they make use of their documentation: this should guide us as we put the document management project in place. They thus preventively showed their support for the practices of diversion that were likely to appear in relation to the initial project. By doing this, they transformed them into innovation practices, since taking them into account was likely to make the system evolve towards greater flexibility of application. Support for innovation may therefore be given preventively, as shown by this example: it consists of anticipating the appropriation practices that are likely to emerge and giving them enough legitimacy to make them act as bringers of innovation. However, it may also be shown a posteriori, once the new management system is in place. As soon as the practices of diversion have been identified, it will be a case of playing the experimentation card made up of


tolerance and regulation, as we will see further on by abandoning systematic recourse to the rule and agreeing to take part in a complex game of negotiations and compromises, the outcome of which will prove unpredictable. We should remember that the effects of a change may vary greatly between contexts: for a single transformative project, the restructuring of work procedures, transformation of the control function or productivity effects achieved will depend essentially on the state of the power relationships between the different stakeholder groups involved. In this context, it is therefore essential to take a relativist approach: the support for innovation provided must be selective and occasional, and must come after an analysis of the specificities of each organisational context. This type of support may only be conceived iteratively, via a process of trial and error40. Until now, we have mainly stressed the role of senior executives in the introduction of a political management style. However, the previous remarks apply just as much to organisations that represent workers. Indeed, beyond the main principles decreed at their statutory conferences and various events, unions are often faced with complex organisational workings that require appropriate strategies to be developed for each context. It must be acknowledged that providing support for innovative strategies represents a certain risk for the traditional union institution, in that the uncontrolled aspect of the latter may appear very hard to manage. So, what means can union organisations acquire to enable them to provide this support? They first have to learn the fundamental principles of contextual analysis, to be able to deal with conflict situations better: for them, the aim is to be able to quickly identify the specificities of each context, the main stakes and interests involved, the sources of power, the informal procedures that govern communication between stakeholders, the negotiations to be conducted and, finally, the initiatives to be supported. They also need to adapt their tactical instruments to the multiple organisational contexts in which they are called on to operate: they must also show themselves capable of justifying the recourse to informal procedures alongside official work, as well as supporting diversions from an excessive control function and defending professional integrity when this is threatened by an overly rigid formalisation of activities. Finally, recourse to independent experts is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways they have of developing their socio-technical imagination, although they must avoid becoming stuck in a debate of the initiated: when faced with new areas with which they have previously seldom been involved, they must indeed do everything they can to win sufficient legitimacy and be recognised as a valid interlocutor. When faced with a change process, their main mission will now be to offer realistic alternatives, on the technical, economic and organisational levels. One last remark on the subject of support for innovation: the importance of thinking in the medium and even the long term. Operators must indeed be given time to develop their innovation strategies, even if these appear to go against the initial change project. Learning the procedures the first phase of socialisation in Salernis diagram can already take a very

Here we obviously refer to the incremental approach.


long time. The second socialisation, in which operators discover possible deviations from the standard uses of a new system and/or learn their role as innovators, is especially timeconsuming: one cannot become an innovator overnight. Undoubtedly, the temporalities may vary greatly between organisations, according to the resources available to the different stakeholder groups and the stakes that the change represents for them. Nonetheless, it seems pointless to intervene too early: if we rush things, there is a high risk of finding ourselves in situations of misunderstanding, where well-meaning project managers look on in amazement as new deviant practices emerge, well after their initial display of openness and support when the first deviations appeared. 5.2.12. Making relevant use of the power of the joker The support given to innovations, even when these appear dispersed and chaotic, could lead us to believe that managers play a purely passive role, contenting themselves with a vague laissezfaire approach or, at the very most, supporting trends over which they have little control at the end of the day. However, their power is real. Here we would like to refer to the useful concept of the power of the joker used by Pav (1989) to describe the way managers intervene in the structuring of relationships between opposite interest groups during a change process: In a game of cards, this particular figure, which is not interpreted in advance, in fact organises all the given figures and the game; however the player is free to specify its meaning; they are free to interpret it. General management teams have the power of the joker as they organise the corporate game without being able to interpret it. They structure the rationalities specific to the corporate stakeholders who are subordinate to them, and their logics of action, but are powerless to reduce these logics completely to suit them. They therefore have the power to impose structuring rules, theoretically and sometimes effectively. Yet this power is limited as they can never totally determine all the rationalities. They can only influence the corporate stakeholders logics of action to a greater or lesser extent (1989, pp. 257-258). Obviously the power of the joker is not acquired in advance. It requires the manager to play a subtle game, at the end of which they succeed in devising new rules for the game when faced with a conflict situation. These rules make it possible to avoid a complete destabilisation of the structure and temporarily re-establish the contested authority, while recognising the diversity of the interests involved. In his insightful observation of the interactions between management and innovators, Alter (1990, pp. 104-110) proposes to identify the four stages of a managerial intervention, which is likened to a third party intervention41. Encouragement


On this subject, see the third party concept presented by De Bono (1991, pp. 124-134). However, we distance ourselves from the central argument developed by the author, which is resolutely situated within the perspective of conflict appeasement (de-confliction).


In the troubled period of status quo that characterises the beginnings of a change process (defensive attitudes among executives, fear of making a loss on the investment in future innovators), the managers engage in intense stimulation activity. This consists of creating uncertainty by increasing the means made available to the stakeholders (equipment credit, communication sessions, training programmes, etc.), accepting unforeseen appropriations, and systematically launching experimentation operations that have the advantage of giving the stakeholders room for manoeuvre, without imposing formalisation through codified procedures from the outset. Laissez-faire Next comes an overwhelming period characterised by unbridled activism on the part of the innovators: they undoubtedly believe that the change is steered from above, but discover that by taking it in charge, by perverting it, this same change may become an asset for minimising the weight of traditional dominations (1990, pp. 105-106). In this phase, management teams are somewhat overwhelmed by the process that they themselves favoured. Regressive institutionalisation Thus begins a phase of returning to order, a re-centring of the innovations developed by the base. This is the central phase of the intervention process, which Alter describes as the regulation of the innovation system and which in our opinion corresponds to the power of the joker expounded above: At the centre of the complex movement that characterises innovation, management teams are able to follow a cultural learning process as complex as that of the new professionals. They discover, accept and implement a new idea: regulation of the innovation system. They give up scheduling and creating rules for it. The institutionalisation of the innovators breakthroughs therefore acts as a peace treaty that enables the different parties to stabilise their areas of competence and influence. The management teams bestow a new legitimacy on the rules: they implement provisions that take account of the value of the innovators intervention. However, they combine this policy of openness with a redefinition of the territories conquered by the innovations proponents: at the very moment they are turning what once belonged to the realm of the informal into a right, the management teams curb the innovators interventionist excesses to a large extent (1990, p. 107). Arbitration42 The regulatory activity characteristic of the previous phase in no way implies the end of the managerial intervention process. In fact, the stakeholders retain their full capacity for initiative and reaction. While the power of the joker indeed redistributes the value of the cards, it in no way dictates the players behaviour. The re-establishment of authority is therefore fated to be temporary and will quickly be subjected to unexpected practices of diversion and appropriation

We hesitate to use the term disorder used by Alter here, as we think that it does not quite apply to the situation that he describes. In our opinion, it is above all a search by management teams for a fragile balance between innovators and legalists, rather than a state of disorder strictly speaking.


by the innovators. Moreover, the proponents of the order or rules (the legalists) attempt to take advantage of their legitimate position to reinforce their power over the innovators. The tension between these two poles thus becomes constant: During this movement, the innovators have definitively learned about the influence they derive from their innovation strategies. Although some of them play the game from their new institutional function, they are replaced at the base by new innovators: continuous change prevents any stabilisation of rules and statuses. Likewise, the legalists, comforted by their new legitimacy, find strategic resources with which to play their role. The managers then have to constantly arbitrate between two groups and two logics, innovation and institution (Alter, 1990, p. 108). We once more see the cyclical nature of Salernis diagram: when the feedback phase has taken place and the managers have introduced a managerial innovation to attempt to resolve the contradictions expressed by the counter-system, a new cycle is triggered, made up of a first phase of socialisation, then a second one, etc. It is important to highlight the mutual learning mechanism that is at work during these different phases: the innovators discover and invent new game spaces (first and second phases of socialisation in Salernis diagram), while the managers progressively learn the art of feedback (fourth and fifth phases of the diagram) as they try to temporarily regulate the new situation created by the innovators diversions. Here we see what an ambidextrous method of operation may consist of, based on innovations coming from the bottom of the organisation as well as regulatory interventions by management (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002). By acting in this way, the managers pave the way for investments of form and the constitution of obligatory points of passage, which will characterise the following stage of change management. This will be marked by the gradual convergence of the stakeholders of the change and the appearance of thresholds of irreversibility. 5.2.13. Identifying key actions and monitoring indicators What can these investments of form and obligatory points of passage consist of? Above we denounced the illusions of a planning approach to change management, which is incapable of taking account of the inevitable emergent aspects, both contextual and political. Nonetheless, several methodologies and techniques developed as part of the project management process one of the best equipped forms of the planning approach to change may prove useful when mobilised at key moments of the process, in order to offer the stakeholders a simplified representation of the project under way, on which they can easily agree. As established by the interpretativist approach (one of the components of the five forces model), this type of investment of form (Thvenot, 1986), which consists of making the reality less complex by making its components more homogeneous and easier to manage, has the ability to create a common language between the various protagonists and thus lead them to consider the progress of the project on the basis of similar symbolic representations. By facilitating communication between the components of the network that is being formed, it inevitably generates convergence, which will help to carry the project along. It obviously fits into a sequential perspective, where the explanation of intentions and the quest for optimisation are meant to guide the actual action. At certain key moments, sudden bursts of rationalism


punctuate a process characterised mainly by reaction to emergent phenomena. Here we find the improvisational concept of change put forward by Orlikowski and Hofman (1997), in which phases of anticipated (or planned) change alternate with phases of opportunistic (or responsive) change and purely emergent change, as shown in the diagram below.
Figure 7: The improvisational model of change management over time

Source: Orlikowski and Hofman (1997, p.13).

At key moments, it is therefore possible to call on certain classic project management techniques, such as Gantt charts, PERT, CPM, etc. These techniques were first use to steer major industrial and military projects, but with the development of user-friendly project management software, they have become accessible to all types of projects, regardless of scale. Gantt charts allow us to graphically represent the progress of a project, broken down into a limited number of tasks. Each task to be performed is represented by a row, while the columns correspond to the estimated units of time (day, week, month). The estimated time for a task is represented by bars that start and end with the tasks respective start and end dates. Tasks may follow on from each other or be executed simultaneously. Gantt charts give us an overview of the progress of a project by drawing a vertical line at a specific time (t), to assess the extent to which the scheduled tasks have actually been completed. In addition, milestone events or key actions may also be shown on the schedule, dividing the project into distinct phases. A milestone may be the production of a document, a meeting or a project deliverable. At all times we thus have a simplified representation of the whole change process. Most of the time, IT tools (spreadsheets or specialist software) are used to achieve this. PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) and CPM (Critical Path Method) are graphic representations that attempt to optimise the task chain, this time taking account of its interdependencies. For each task, an earlier or later delivery date is indicated. When there is no room for manoeuvre between these two dates, the task is called a critical task. Any delay to a critical task effectively delays the whole project. Most of the techniques inherited from project management subdivide the change process into phases, which follow on from each other in a logical order. These generally include: a preparatory phase, including opportunity, feasibility and technical studies, etc.; a planning phase, including validation of the schedule, budget, quality indicators, a communication plan, etc.; an implementation phase, with steering committee meetings, production of deliverables, corrective procedures, etc.; a closing phase, including assessing the extent to which initial expectations have been met, and delivery of the necessary information to extend the project to the whole organisation.


Dividing the project into phases is also an investment of form in itself, even though the real change process proves much more erratic. These phases allow us to establish a temporality, set the pace of events, situate actions in relation to each other over time, and reassure participants over the course of the project. The instruments derived from project management techniques often include monitoring indicators that may in turn play the role of investments of form. The schedule-based methods (PERT, CPM, etc.) also propose temporal indicators in terms of deadlines. There may also be indicators for production quality, customer satisfaction, savings made, increases in productivity, increase in market share, etc. They may take the form of dashboards, statistical data, graphs, colour codes, etc. From such time as these indicators are effectively used and inform the discussions of the steering committees and work groups, they contribute towards developing a common vision of the change process under way. An increasingly popular monitoring indicator is without a doubt the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a tool developed by Kaplan & Norton (1996). Although some authors criticise it for being too narrow in scope limited to the business itself without taking account of its interrelations with its business partners and its integration into an industrial value chain (Voepel et al., 2008) this tool enables us to break down the vision and strategy of an organisation into four main areas: organisational learning and development (amount invested in training, degree to which innovative HRM policies are adopted, etc.); internal processes (effectiveness of mission-oriented processes, effectiveness of support processes, etc.); customers (market shares, satisfaction, loyalty, etc.); finance (trading accounts, balance sheets, profits, etc.). As a strategic tool for steering the different dimensions of the organisation, offering a common vocabulary for all organisations and formatting information-gathering using a standardised measurement, the BSC can indisputably help to create convergence around the change process, once it has become the obligatory reference point for the different protagonists. Apart from the techniques and tools derived directly from the planning approach, other means may be used to create convergence among stakeholders representations. A name, a logo, an acronym, etc. may thus have a mobilising effect as soon as the project is launched, insofar as the images they convey, loaded with great symbolic power, can be used to describe the original intention of the change project. A few examples of project labelling, taken from the interventions carried out by our research team, will enable us to illustrate this role of explaining the initial intention, which always relates to a specific context: at an insurance company, where job security had been guaranteed for many years, the choice of the name Optiprocess to refer to the projects work process optimisation objectives was far less affectively loaded than it would have been at a company undergoing restructuring. At a large car importing company that had never formalised its HRM policies, the term HR4U helped to allay the fears of bureaucratisation expressed by a certain number of operational executives, by emphasising the fact that this formalisation had to be carried out for the benefit of everyone. At a public transport company that had undergone many years of industrial conflict, the Amdis label clearly described the objective of the change being undertaken in


terms of improving the industrial dialogue, an objective shared by management and unions alike. These labels will end up taking on an existence of their own: according to Latour (2006), these are actants, i.e. human and non-human entities, either individual or collective, which interconnect to form an innovation network. In a way, the label will draw a line to which the different parties may refer in the case of differences of opinion: it will regularly put the process back on track, for example by providing a reminder that the need to improve the industrial dialogue must guide the actions and gestures of each protagonist in the companys everyday life. It goes without saying that these means may not be used straight away, without contextual analysis or an understanding of the stakeholders games. A task of translation is required before they can be defined. Thus, the HR4U label could not be adopted without an in-depth understanding of the expectations and fears of the different protagonists: the challenge would thus be to emphasise the personalisation of the HR services and drive out the spectre of bureaucratic rigidity. As demonstrated by Thvenot (1986), a collective agreement, a set of work regulations, a classification of functions, a schedule, a quality standard, a values charter or a code of ethics are all examples of investments of form whose stability may vary according to the area in which they apply (a company, sector, country, international community) and their life span. The latter is itself closely linked to the set-up cost, i.e. the compromises needed to develop these things. As the following example shows, a simple letter of intent may also play this role of symbolically signposting the process under way. A very useful letter of intent The merger between these two higher education establishments specialising in economics and management had been announced more than once, without ever becoming a reality. One of the establishments was a private higher school, the other was made up of two university departments, belonging to a larger faculty. The intended merger was therefore not only difficult to carry out on an organisational level (two very different management models, one entrepreneurial, very close to the business world, the other anchored in the university tradition, highly individualistic) but also on the legal and financial level, as both entities were subject to different methods of financing and regulations. After a group of managers from both entities had smoothed things out, the decision was soon made to write a letter of intent, stating the objectives of the planned merger and encouraging the different protagonists (members of the higher school, members of the university departments involved, central authorities of the University, supervisory authorities, socio-economic circles) to share a common vision of the project. This letter of intent was used on several occasions, during the intense conflicts that often punctuated the 3 years it took to make the project operational: it served to remind the different parties of their respective engagements.

These different investments of form may become obligatory points of passage once the change process crosses a threshold of irreversibility as a result of their repeated use, i.e. the different protagonists feel that turning back is not an option. 5.2.14. Evaluating the process continuously


Irreversibility may only be observed by continuously evaluating the actions that are being carried out. It is the next step after identifying the key actions and monitoring indicators. It also constitutes one of the pillars of stakeholder mobilisation. As we have just seen, the planning approach offers numerous indicators that may be used as part of an evaluation action: the degree to which deadlines are met, adherence to the budgetary envelope, degree to which objectives are achieved, etc. Monitoring indicators may then be included as part of the regular communication operations, and help create convergence as project participants get into the habit of referring to them. However, we are aware of the limits of an evaluation of this type. Above, we have argued for a multidimensional evaluation of change. A polyphonic management style must therefore be able to constantly propose evaluations in several voices, bringing forth different kinds of indicators derived from the different approaches to change. We propose a table of indicators referring to the different approaches to change, inspired by an approach that we followed to measure the success of a research-intervention at an organisation (Pichault, 2004). This table may be used in a modular way, according to the specificities of the context, to emphasise a particular aspect of the process where convergence actions are to be carried out. Here we refer back to the case of the air freight company (case no. 3) to illustrate a possible application of the table.
Table 17: Multi-dimensional evaluation of the case of the air freight company INDICATORS 1. Resource management and allocation (planning approach) formal identification of a project manager and clear definition of their role, attributes and responsibilities creation of a steering committee formed of the main stakeholders, regular committee meetings production of a list of specifications relating to the project definition of a precise timetable, including intermediate and final results to be achieved definition of a precise budgetary envelope for the project, and clear procedures in the event of the initial budgetary envelope being revised extent to which the results meet the list of specifications and timetable 2. Adaptation to the context (contingent approach) reduction of inconsistencies between components of the internal context reduction of inconsistencies with regard to the market reduction of inconsistencies with regard to the institutional context 3. Mobilisation of stakeholders (political approach) representation of the diversity of interests definition of roles and/or allocation of appropriate statuses to the main stakeholders degree of involvement of the higher decision-making levels (strategic risk-taking) degree of involvement of the middle line degree of involvement of the operational stakeholders establishment and regular mobilisation of a network of allies in the departments concerned support and feedback given to participants along the way (helpline, training, etc.) regular mobilisation of project steering bodies degree of joint satisfaction of the interests of stakeholders targeted by the change 4. Temporal concordance (incremental approach) temporal concordance between information/communication actions and the actual evolution of the project temporal concordance between the project dynamic, the other projects carried out within the organisation and the overall strategy



5. Legitimisation/convergence operations (interpretativist approach) initial possession by the project manager of a minimal level of expertise in the content of the change clarification of the change project and its stakes information about alternatives justification of choices made when defining the scope of the change coordination of information actions (feedback) relating to the actual evolution of the project and steering decisions convergence of representations relating to the change and expected gains integration of the process into the organisations stock of experiences


Despite enlisting both financial and human resources, putting together and following a relatively restrictive list of specifications and a precise timetable that accompanied the intervention step by step, the vagueness that surrounded the project steering process leads us to believe that several fundamental prescriptions of the planning approach were hardly being followed here: the departure of the sites DHR and indecision over the role of project manager, which finally fell to the warehouses DHR on an informal basis; the steering committee being reduced to just one person after the DHRs departure from the site, etc. The organisational diagnosis and the resulting action plan were an attempt to reduce the inconsistencies between strategy, HRM and work organisation; they were nonetheless heavily criticised during the feedback session. Failure to take account of the operational constraints of a just-in-time market, where competition was intense, could easily be a handicap in the future. On the other hand, the action plan that was implemented led to a better integration of the company in its immediate institutional environment, which was recognised by the external partners (contingent approach). Yet a combination of the last three approaches offers some interesting perspectives. According to the political approach, the social responsibility approach involves taking account of the opinions of all the stakeholders concerned by the companys activity: however, we note that precise roles were not allocated to the main key stakeholders in the process that had been launched. The Managing Director, who had reservations about the analysis, finally gave his support to the action plan and got involved personally, which enabled him to assert his support for the responsible citizenship line. The members of the middle line and operational staff were involved through surveys, interviews and focus groups. The warehouses DHR cleverly managed to take the project in hand, with the support of the new Director of Operations, who thus started in his role in a kind of state of grace: both managed to capitalise on the exteriority effect that their recent arrival in the structure represented. As for the former warehouses Director of Operations, who had been a particularly harsh critic during the feedback session, he took on other responsibilities and was no longer part of the game. The action plan was adopted but the implementation of the new measures (career paths, coordination function, etc.) was not accompanied by any particular training, helplines, etc., which led to certain worries being expressed. As for the steering committee, it met regularly and monitored the intervention closely. At the end of the day, the different parties interests seemed to have been more or less satisfied at the end of the process, at least if we refer to the staff survey carried out after two years. Only the representatives of one of the unions and the members of the middle line still had reservations about the plan: the former felt that it did nothing to improve the difficult working conditions, while the latter developed mixed feelings about the new coordination function, the outlines of which seemed vague to them. According to the incremental approach, there was indeed concordance between the communication actions undertaken and the way the project actually evolved, under the leadership of the warehouses DHR: not only was a feedback session organised for staff who had taken part in the analysis phase, but staff were clearly informed of the managerial orientations that followed our recommendations. However, the strategic decision


to invest, which had initially appeared to be linked to the results of our intervention, was finally made well before our intervention was over. Finally, the various legitimisation operations that were launched seemed to bear fruit (interpretativist approach), even though the initial project manager the sites DHR hardly presented himself as competent in the content of the approach. The very definition of the project was formulated gradually by the management committee, in the face of threats of relocation from the group. The choice to move forward with the approach was made after the alternative options had been considered. The justification for the scope of the intervention was agreed upon easily. A single name, accompanied by a page of explanations, was used to refer to the approach when communicating with all staff members; information actions were undertaken after each phase in an integrated manner, in order to avoid excessive delays (results of the analysis and managerial options one month later). There was a certain homogeneity of vision when it came to the nature of the change and the progress it would enable the company to make, even though it continued to be read in diverging ways (by members of middle management and representatives of one of the unions). In spite of everything, the social responsibility approach now seems more closely integrated into the daily management of the company. A set of indicators of this type may be used to constantly monitor the threats or weaknesses that risk hampering the course of change, as well as the opportunities or strengths that can help it to progress. This kind of vigilance makes it possible to both take advantage of the factors that have a positive influence on the process, and to counter the factors that have a negative influence. Continuous evaluation is also what gives change management its dynamic and iterative nature. On the one hand, it requires us to regularly review the different factors likely to influence the process, in order to adjust the content of the change correspondingly. On the other, it requires the steering committee to give systematic feedback about the different actions undertaken so as to assess the extent to which they are yielding the expected results. This feedback makes it possible to plan corrective action, if we notice that one stakeholder group is tending to become less involved, certain interests have not been catered to, or if it appears that a particular communication operation has not helped to give meaning to a crucial stage of the project. 5.2.15. Communicating constantly about the process under way Communication actions aimed at reporting back every time progress is made can also help mobilise the various stakeholders. Thus, throughout the change process, the steering committee must take care to ensure that the process is transparent in the eyes of the various stakeholders concerned. Meaning should be given to the actions undertaken, so as to ensure and increase confidence in the change, while clarifying the different project management stages. Communication operations must therefore cover the process itself, the expected changes, the approach taken, the choices facing the company, the difficulties encountered, the different actions carried out and their results. The role of communication features in all studies of the key success factors in the strategic change process, whether we are dealing with a merger/acquisition, restructuring, privatisation, business process reengineering, introduction of total quality management, installation of information systems, etc. The various extracts quoted below testify to this:


Clear and effective communication at all levels of an organization is necessary before and during the implementation of ERP. Communication includes the formal promotion of ERP project teams and advertisements on the projects progress to the rest of the organization (Ngai, Law & Wat, 2008, p. 551). With TQM, communication becomes much more than a mere information-passing exercise. In a traditional organization, people need to be informed of decisions which affect them. In a TQM business unit, people need timely accurate information in order to make decisions which influence the quality of their work. They also need the support of a communication network which will enable them to communicate those decisions to others (Joseph et al., 1999, p. 1341). It became very clear in the interviews across all three institutions that communication between organizational members, at all levels, from management and among peers, should be a major priority in any merger process (Kavanagh & Ashkanasy, 2006, p. S91). The research suggests that providing frequent and timely communication, clear explanations for why downsizing is necessary, involving employees in decision making, treating all employees with dignity, and using fair procedures are vital for maintaining survivors organizational commitment and job performance (Tourish et al., 2004, p. 490). Despite being a recurring theme in change management literature, communication actions are often similar to media operations, steered by the internal communication department. They are then reduced to simply passing on information from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy. This orientation seems counter-productive to us. In our opinion, communication should on the contrary be seen as a real strategic option that affects all the organisations everyday acts of management. The development of communication processes that enable effective conversations-for-action has the potential not only to handle, more effectively, the ongoing tasks, but also to release the unlimited untapped potential of every person in the organization to contribute in the development of innovations that will ensure an organizations long-term viability and success in a complex and uncertain environment (Dervitsiotis, 2002, p. 1098) Communication during a change process must be everybodys business, at all times. It is about promoting the interactive exchange at all levels, particularly between operators and their direct managers. In fact this is one of the key roles of the local hierarchy. In a similar perspective, communication must be taboo-free, even if opening up a space for self-expression obviously risks stirring up conflict. Conversely, impersonal, controlled communication that lacks transparency and offers no possibility for contradiction is far more likely to increase suspicion and reactions of rejection towards the change, as shown by the situation below. A counter-example of communication This project to establish a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system in the industrial subsidiary of a metallurgy group was in reality the visible part of a complete reorganisation of the sales function and the very structure of the subsidiary. The aim is to


separate sales from the production activity in order to spread this function across the group and not make it specific to a production site. Applying CRM was meant to facilitate and support this cross-functionality. In other words, the vendors of this site were called on to market the goods belonging to a single category and produced in different places, and no longer focus on marketing the local production. The plan was for this reorganisation to be accompanied by the creation of two distinct companies, one industrial, the other marketing, in order to establish more flexible management methods that were better suited to the two types of activity. Communication from head office mainly related to the project to set up the CRM software, and minimise the amount of reorganisation that was required ahead of it, in particular for fear of how staff at the subsidiary and its representatives would react. However, it soon became apparent to the local stakeholders that the organisational stakes of the CRM project were important and compromised the solidarity that had existed between the different functions present on the site up to that point. The reactions and side-taking were exacerbated by incomplete, relatively informal communication. The CRM project itself struggled to find legitimacy among its main internal customers, especially the director of marketing, who did not hesitate to appear as one of the most reluctant stakeholders. Faced with these difficulties, management at head office were forced to postpone the launch of the CRM project and planned to ask the director of marketing to retire, although he had been in the job for many years. In a way, ongoing communication is the price to pay to keep the different protagonists mobilised and enrolled. Their exchanges thus become the foundation for the change process and end up reducing divergences of viewpoint. In this sense, since communication involves creating relationships between stakeholders and tools, change is structured by the conversations that the different stakeholders have with these tools (Ford & Ford, 1995). Ultimately, communication generates convergence, not because of the powers of persuasion of a few people, but through the constant dialogue that it manages to establish around the process. 5.2.16. Socialising new entrants The change process has now crossed the threshold of irreversibility, thanks to the various actions undertaken during the convergence phase. We may now begin the last phase of change management extending the network by incorporating new stakeholders. In fact it is a case of successfully making the difficult transition from a project logic, which has involved a limited number of spokespeople in a process which may be conflictual, risky and complex, but most of the time generates enthusiasm, to a routine logic where all the organisations members and even members of partner organisations, in a wider sense are concerned. In other words, the question is how to move from exploration marked by experimentation, risk-taking, innovation, etc. to exploitation i.e. the incorporation of the results of the change into the organisations basic processes (March, 1991). One of the pitfalls of this transition is the steering group effect that in some respects is reminiscent of the famous Hawthorne effect created by the classic works of the human relations school (Roethlisberger & Dickson, 1950). The functioning of the bodies connected directly to the change process (steering committee, work groups, key user group, etc.) is often


characterised by a high level of involvement among the operators concerned and a high level of identification with the change itself on their behalf. The phenomenon may above all be explained by the way these groups are formed: indeed, selection is very frequently based on operators who are a priori more motivated, perform better or are more open to innovation. Then, the selected members often benefit from new promotion prospects, increased status, and symbolic bonuses which are all incentives for them to be involved. At the very least, they anticipate them. However, once we try to extend the prototype tested in a vacuum to the other categories of organisation members, the steering group effect inevitably peters out: the other stakeholders obviously do not have the same interest in playing the game of change and participation (Agro, Cornet & Pichault, 1995). It is therefore important to manage such a transition carefully. Once more, as was the case during the contextualisation phase, it will be helpful to apply the fundamental principles of the political approach. It will be a case of identifying the stakes and interests of the different stakeholders concerned by this expansion, characterising their internal and external mobilisation capacities, anticipating the means of action they are likely to deploy, etc. In other words, a new translation loop must be initiated, with its phases of contextualisation, enrolment, problematisation and convergence. It is at this point that actions to socialise new entrants i.e. those who had remained outside of the strict scope of the change until that point really make sense. A socialisation process lasts much longer than the phase of integration into an organisation; since each time an organisational change takes place from an individual point of view the state of socialisation may be called into question and the process may be reactivated (Delobbe et al., 2005, p.319). A real educational effort must therefore be made with regard to this: clarifying the objectives of the change, regularly reminding staff of their meaning, coaching the hierarchy, helping staff to appropriate the project by creating a space for them to have their say, drawing up a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) or providing a helpdesk, etc. It is crucial for new entrants to be quickly engaged in the dynamic created by the change, and for them not to be excluded from a process that remains foreign to them. This is one of the sine qua non conditions for extending the network, i.e. for integrating the change into the normal functioning of the organisation. In this respect, it may be helpful to apply the socialisation techniques which are usually used to integrate new recruits into an organisation (Wanous, 1992), which are increasingly referred to as induction programmes. The latest research in the field seems to indicate that the most institutionalised practices where new recruits form a cohort which undergoes a common, structured training programme, capitalising on their previously existing identities and values reinforce their involvement in the organisation (Van Maanen, 1978). By analogy, the socialisation of new entrants in the network that is being formed around the change must receive substantial managerial investment. In fact, some authors suggest that as part of this socialisation activity, we should distinguish between the different phases during which managers must react appropriately to the behaviours of employees concerned by the change. We are familiar with the famous typology


formulated by Lewin (1951), and revisited by Schein (1969) and Bridges (1991), which distinguishes between: an unfreezing stage, during which it is important to make participants aware of the need to leave the status quo behind, while taking account of their fears and the problems they raise, and encouraging a participatory search for solutions using brainstorming techniques; a moving stage, during which we seek to mobilise their energies and transform existing behaviours, in particular through training and support actions carried out by key players; a (refreezing) stage, where new behaviours are stabilised and consolidated using formal procedures and systems.

Other authors have attempted to refine this typology, by making a further distinction between participants individual concerns. The 7 phases model by Bareil (2004) is one of the most successful attempts at this. Specific managerial responses are associated with the different phases, as shown in the following table.
Table 18: Managerial responses to individual concerns during a change process Phases of concern 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. absence of concern focus on the recipient focus on the organisation focus on change focus on experimentation focus on collaboration focus on improving the change Description indifference towards the project under way awareness of the end of the status quo, worrying about the impact on their position, role, status, power, etc. asking about the organisations actual commitment to the new path and the potential impacts on it search for precise information about the exact nature of the change, its modalities, the timetable, etc. starting to accept the new model but worried about personal skills and capacity to adapt wish to share experiences with others by becoming involved in implementing the change search for new challenges and suggesting corrections or new project applications Based on Bareil (2004) Suggested managerial responses raise awareness of the need for change reassure, inform clarify the stakes provide detailed information support, coaching provide opportunities for exchange encourage innovations

However, these different models, which focus on the individual cognitive and emotional aspects, suffer from a sequential and somewhat mechanistic view of the change process: all the individuals supposedly go through each of the phases of change and, after the appropriate managerial actions have been taken, end up being transformed into active supporters of the project. The irreducibility of conflicts of interest is simply ignored here. Moreover, such models fail to shed light on the way the project is interconnected with other temporal dynamics at work within the organisation: the different phases are presented in a somewhat decontextualised way, as if we could reflect on the matter with all other things


being equal. Yet is the issue not precisely about anchoring the project in existing organisational realities, and binding it to the other change processes that are already under way? If, for example, a project to professionalise human resources management, mobilising the hierarchical line and alternating the introduction of new systems with training cycles, is required to coexist with the introduction of an integrated management software package, introduced in phases over a 24-month period, from functional analysis to general use, how will staff whose daily activities are directly concerned by the second project be able to involve themselves in the first project in a concrete way? Will the training requirements of the two projects be compatible in terms of temporal and mental availability? Will concerns over one project not distract the employees from the other projects priorities? Will actions to provide detailed information about one project have meaning if the recipients above all need to be reassured about their fate in the context of the other project? Most often, the answer to these different questions will involve what Lindblom (1959) has called the science of muddling through. Adjustments will be made iteratively, following processes of trial and error, to gradually combine the different ongoing temporal dynamics. The need for constant evaluation once more seems central. It is by equipping ourselves with multidimensional monitoring tools (see above) that we can be attentive to the discrepancies that appear along the way and take appropriate remedial action. It is first and foremost a case of dealing with the question of differences in temporality, by identifying the employees multiple anchoring points. Perhaps it involves briefly delaying, or on the contrary abruptly accelerating, an information action planned for project A, once we have understood that project B is entering a critical period requiring other types of action. In general, it will be a case of managing to combine the human, technical, financial resources, etc. that are allocated according to the specific modalities and temporalities of each process. The various actions undertaken then become irreversibility factors, not in terms of the actual content of the change which may continue to undergo adjustments as it progresses but in terms of the solidity of the network created around it, and its incorporation into the daily functioning of the organisation. 5.2.17. Summary The different components of the polyphonic management style that we have just presented, along with the phases to which they relate, in no way constitute a linear process. We should remember that we have distinguished between them in order to set out our argument more clearly. In the course of a real-life change process, they are closely interrelated and there is a constant back-and-forth process between them. Here we can once more refer to the improvisational conception of change, defended by Orlikowski & Hofman (1997). Thus, the operations linked to the contextualisation phase must be regularly reinitialised, with the aim of monitoring changes in the context and stakeholders games. Constant attention must be paid to enrolment throughout the change process. It is a case of foreseeing involvement actions upstream as well as downstream of the process. The degree, level, form and even time of involvement will differ according to the actors under consideration.


Problematisation consists of a series of actions that will have to be relaunched regularly, as formalising a common objective in no way guarantees that stakeholders will keep to it once and for all. The power of the joker, specific to this phase, will probably have to be actioned several times. The investments of form and constitution of obligatory points of passage will also need to be renewed throughout the duration of the change. Communication operations may not be confined to a precise moment: they must relate to the process itself and its vagaries. When it comes to evaluating the actions carried out, this consists of constantly monitoring the threats or weaknesses that risk hampering the project, as well as the opportunities or strengths that may help it progress. Continuous evaluation and communication are the sine qua non conditions of extension, i.e. the expansion of the project to include other stakeholders. To summarise, as the following table shows, the polyphonic management style clearly differs from the panoptical style in that it gives pride of place to the emerging dynamics of a change process.
Table 19: Panoptical vs. polyphonic management styles more control, homogenisation rationalisation strategies formalisation reduction of uncertainty, predetermination predominance of absolute rationality top-down management autonomy, diversity of interests negotiation strategies promotion of informal circuits unpredictability, absence of predetermination predominance of limited rationalities bottom-up management



5.3. Can we import a polyphonic management style? Adopting a polyphonic management style does not come naturally. The dominant way of thinking taught at management schools and disseminated by professional reviews in fact encourages the perpetuation of a panoptical management style. Calling on an external intervening party is undoubtedly one of the most popular ways of introducing or stimulating change projects within organisations nowadays: either to prepare for them (organisational audit, corporate climate survey, needs analysis, etc.), to help design them (brainstorming, drawing up action plans, defining lists of specifications, etc.) or to support their implementation (communication, training or coaching actions, creating and running project groups, evaluation measures, etc.). We feel that the intervening party in charge of supporting change projects may find it helpful to refer to the basic principles of a polyphonic management style, (Pichault et al., 2008). As Friedberg notes, intervention is not an isolated decision, it is a process. It is not just a case of


giving initial impetus to the process. We must provide continuous steering that reframes its vicissitudes on a day-to-day basis, as part of a vision of medium-term institutional development, which initiates, accompanies and supports the necessary learning processes, and which constructs the information loops that enable us to follow, interpret and, where applicable, correct developments in the field (1993, p. 322). Below we have set out the case of a research-intervention carried out by our centre to accompany a business process reengineering (BPR) project at an insurance company, to which we have already referred several times. Supporting a polyphonic form of change management This insurance company, which had historically occupied a niche position focussing on a precise segment of the market, decided to open up to all types of customers. It put in place various means to enhance its attractiveness: a call centre, interactive website, decentralised offices, etc. However, after decades of uninterrupted turnover growth, it realised that this growth was slowing down, in particular due to obsolete work processes, which had remained unchanged for a long time. The Director of Human Resources was appointed by General Management to steer this project. Accompanied by the Management Controller, a very influential figure in the organisation, she made contact with our research centre, with a view to obtaining methodological support for the reorganisation project. From the outset, it was made clear that after several more or less satisfactory experiences with big international consulting agencies, the company was turning to academia with the primary aim of finding a form of methodological support which would have no presuppositions about what solutions should be implemented, and would follow a bottom-up logic (starting with the operators concerned), with a view to its subsequent appropriation by members of the company. The company declared itself ready to provide the significant financial and human resources necessary to make the operation a success and, if applicable, to adapt them according to changes in the workload. Only IT resources were not included in the initial budget, because the company found it difficult to say how much would be needed a priori. First of all we embarked on an exploratory phase that consisted of listing the companys basic processes and spotting the main dysfunctions: strict separation of tasks between departments, duplication of encoding and control operations, slow file transfer, variety of responses given depending on the channel taken by the client, etc. We wanted to launch the reengineering operation in the form of a project-type approach but quite soon realised that the company did not have much of a culture in this area. In fact, the different departments were so many baronies, centred on territories corresponding to the different products: car insurance, fire and miscellaneous risks, group insurance, etc. During the first year, we agreed to focus on a particular process to test the approach. We felt that this process should be both clearly demarcated and sufficiently representative of the problems encountered, while not representing excessively high financial stakes for the company. Following the exploratory phase, we proposed to use the process for producing fire and miscellaneous risk contracts. We presented the proposal to the management committee, who were quick to agree to it. If it were a success, the approach would be replicated for other process, but this time without our intervention. From the outset we asked for a steering committee to be formed on the basis of a pre-analysis of the current situation, which we would perform. The committee members were appointed to be representative of the multiple categories of stakeholder concerned by the


reengineering process and actively involved in the different stages of the process in question. One of the specificities of this committee was the involvement of stakeholders from different hierarchical levels (operators, department heads, unit managers, etc.). Above (in 5.2.6.), we have already described the period of indecision during which the officially appointed project manager was replaced by a young employee before fully embracing his role. The steering committee the membership of which was not always easy to manage, given the power games to over-represent or, on the contrary, avoid representing particular units was a place for retranslating potential solutions into the language of the different stakeholder categories. Furthermore, it was an opportunity to permanently reassure the different parties that there was no threat to their jobs. It also guaranteed that at the end of the process, the orientations taken would match the interests and objectives of the various protagonists. The only sensitive issue at the start was the absence of the provider of IT services, an external company whose development options hampered the functioning of the company. After several attempts at bringing it into the committee which met with refusals, justified by the fear of finding themselves in the position of the accused it was agreed that the project manager would regularly meet the IT company managers and report to them about each of these committee meetings. Finally, tensions began to ease and a representative of the company would become involved in one of the work groups during the last months. The first committee meetings focussed on building trust between the different protagonists, some of whom hardly knew each other or were wary of each other. At the outset, an initial question was asked by the official project manager: what should the operation be called? A consensus was soon reached on the name Optiprocess, an explicit reference to the idea of optimising operational work processes without job losses, which worked in French as well as Dutch, the two national languages. The committee, who met at regular intervals of approximately one meeting per month, soon applied themselves to the collective validation of the description of the operational processes concerned by the project. The DHR was very keen to carry out this stage in agreement with the committee members, to avoid reviving the bad memories left behind by the consultants who had imported their approach without taking account of the specific context and culture of the company. We produced a description of the operational processes, with the deliberate aim of having it completed by the committee members, as we were convinced that a significant number of the reengineering solutions were linked to the converging diagnoses of the nature of the problems that had existed for many years. Several meetings were necessary to get the participants to think in terms of cross-functional processes, and not reserved territories or black boxes. When an initial synthetic representation was proposed, in the form of a diagram precisely indicating the places and types of block, including the main stakeholder games, the essential dynamic was launched: work groups formed around these knots to think about how to solve them, essentially involving stakeholders at the operational level. Each member was given a precise role (gathering data, developing indicators, secretarial services to the group, organising, etc.), according to their specific expertise. Throughout the process, a newsletter was published regularly to inform all the staff of the work groups progress. We insisted that the dual innovation of thinking in terms of processes and functioning in project groups should be the subject of extensive internal publicity. The


content of this newsletter was put together by the official project manager and approved by a steering committee. The information delivered in this way was commented all over the company, including the departments that were not yet concerned by the process. Initially, the work groups were received enthusiastically and met frequently: the overall feeling was that a series of sticking points could soon be solved once the main parties concerned were asked for their opinion, and all the different paths could be freely explored. These groups were very creative and the solutions they proposed were often unexpected. However, it was only because of the relentless insistence of our intervention team that the proposed solutions were formalised into a structured process. For each group, the objectives to be achieved were defined, the various possible solutions were systematically compared, and indicators and quantitative or qualitative measures were developed to assess the progress made. On several occasions, we had to remind them that regardless of the quality of the solutions envisaged, we needed to build a real argument to convince the companys decisionmaking authorities that the recommendations were justified. The functioning of the work groups was marked by an incident that will remain engraved in peoples memories for a long time. One of the knots identified by the steering committee concerned the activity of a particular department, through which all the incoming flows had to pass to undergo a conformity check. The delays caused by this obligatory passage were very variable and fundamentally unpredictable. Operational staff stressed that conformity checks already took place upstream and downstream of the department in question, and that this additional stage considerably increased the time needed to process the files. The work group suggested dividing the flows into two: ones that corresponded to routine requests would be processed automatically, without passing through this department; only more complex requests would be examined in more depth by the department. The department head was firmly opposed to this solution: he stressed that the checks that his department provided were essential and enabled many errors to be detected or prevented. He blamed the incompetence of the other departments and refuted all the criticisms that were made of him. The project manager called our research centre for help in resolving the conflict. He knew that the senior executive who ran the department also worked as a lecturer at our faculty. We examined the problems and the proposed solution. The fact that this solution appeared to come from an external analysis and seemed to be the result of a compromise between peers ended up resolving the situation and enabled them to move forward. However, as the months went by, participants in several groups ran out of steam, feeling themselves to be prisoners of a methodology with which they were unfamiliar. Moreover, they learned that other projects were being launched by General Management, apparently unrelated to the present process. At that point, at our insistence, the official project manager became fully aware of his role and relaunched the group dynamic. He took part in several meetings himself, collated the contributions of the different groups, organised a meeting for us with the Sales Director in order to ascertain his sensibilities with regard to the proposed solutions, and constructed an argument that would be presented to the management committee at the end of the year and within the deadlines set out in the initial timetable. Several members of the management team, including the Management Controller and the Sales Director, spoke during this feedback session to underline how crucial the projects operational gains were to the life of the company. A few weeks later, to the great satisfaction of the work group and steering committee members, the Managing Director announced that he had decided to extend the Optiprocess approach to the whole company, and that this approach would now be an umbrella for all the other projects under way, insofar as it would guarantee better


organisational responses to the markets many requests. A results and recommendations feedback session was also organised for the works council. It was favourably received by the unions. However, implementing our recommendations for which no provision had been made in the list of specifications or in the initial timetable caused a few delays, especially on the technical level, because of the delayed involvement of the IT services company in the project. In addition, a second reengineering project was initiated by the management committee, but contrary to what had been arranged, the company asked us to remain involved as the methodology we used had not yet been sufficiently appropriated. This case shows how useful it can be for an external intervening party to refer to the various components of a polyphonic management style during their activities to support the change process. Thus, the contextualisation phase, which in this case was essentially taken care of by the external intervention team given the lack of a company tradition of project management and processual vision, gave us a chance to: characterise the influence system in force (machine configuration, very divided, illprepared for project management); locate the informal communication circuits (duplication of encoding and control operations, diversity of responses given in accordance with the traditions of each barony); identify the main stakeholders (the Management Controller, who would play a decisive role during the final feedback session; the Sales Director, with whom an alliance would be formed when preparing for the meeting with the management committee; the various barons, including the one with whom a compromise would be reached, a process made easier by us both belonging to the university world, etc.); fill the translators role (first with the project manager appointed by management; then with the help of the young assistant to the sales management team, who acted as project manager by default; and finally with the official project manager who returned to fully embrace his role).

The enrolment phase led to the formation of a steering committee involving members from different hierarchical levels who thus became spokespeople for the various stakeholder categories involved in the change. Each committee member was given a mission to fulfil, according to their specific expertise: gathering data, developing indicators, secretarial duties, organisation, etc. Once again, the methodological support of the external intervention team turned out to be necessary, given the companys lack of tradition in this area. The problematisation phase began by reassuring the participants about any threats to their jobs. The choice of the name Optiprocess, which here played the role of an investment of form, enabled us to win the different parties support for the objective of optimising the work processes. Regular committee meetings made it easier for the participants to win each others trust and led to a gradual validation of the productions, which was the opposite of the hardhitting methods that had been used previously by a big consulting company. It was not a case of predetermining the solutions to be implemented, but was more about reaching an


agreement on how to characterise the problems to be solved (the knots). Now it was the operational staff, acting within ad hoc work groups, who were suggesting paths for solutions, many of which were unexpected: some of them came up against the power of the barons, in fact. Let us refer back to the incident involving the conformity checks on incoming flows, in which a department head was held responsible. The external intervention team had to mobilise its own resources (methodological expertise and belonging to the academic world), use its own power of the joker to reach a compromise with this manager, and convince him that the proposed solution was the right one. The convergence phase is characterised by the fact that the external intervention team managed to put in place a structured project management methodology, forcing each work group to set itself objectives to achieve, compare the different solutions, define evaluation indicators, keep to the initial timetable, etc. A newsletter was published regularly to communicate about the double innovation that this way of thinking represented in terms of processes and functioning in project groups: there was a great deal of internal publicity surrounding the projects progress. Furthermore, the intervention team encouraged the official project manager to come out of the woods at a time when the work groups were running out of steam, by asking him to take the initiative again with regard to the management committee. The presentation of an argument summarising all the work groups proposals before the management committee, then before the works council, undoubtedly constituted an obligatory point of passage, which put an end to the loss of impetus among the work groups. The Managing Directors announcement that the process would be extended to the rest of the company under the Optiprocess label sealed the irreversibility of the process that had been launched. As for the extension phase, this was marked by the fact that the support of the external intervention team continued to be deemed necessary by management in order to promote the integration of new entrants into the process. On this level, we can therefore consider that the objectives assigned to the intervention team were not entirely met since the company members have still not appropriated the process. This case study enables us to assess the extent to which the basic principles of a polyphonic management style may become helpful signposts for the external intervening party. We can also see the extent to which they may be used to counter the panoptical reflex which still characterises many managerial attitudes, by providing another way of looking at change management. In this sense, importing the polyphonic management style therefore does indeed seem possible.

What should we remember from this chapter? This chapter has enabled us to define the components of a polyphonic management style, which is more likely to make a positive contribution to the change process, as shown in the previous chapters. This management style, which is special in the way that it highlights the various organisational voices and constantly sets them against each other, logically gives pride of place to the political approach, but it also draws on the other explanatory approaches included in the five forces model. Our presentation of the polyphonic management style is structured around the different methodological stages proposed by the


actor-network theory (Akrich, Callon & Latour, 2006): for us, the challenge was to transform a framework initially designed in an analytical perspective (ex post study of the innovation process) into an ex ante change management method. The different stages identified by the actor-network theory (contextualisation, problematisation, enrolment, convergence, extension) may indeed act as useful markers in the management of a change process, involving in turn the planning, contingent, political, incremental and interpretativist approaches. The chapter finished with a reflection on the benefits of mobilising the polyphonic management style in an intervention situation. We think that involving an external intervening party often provides an opportunity to stimulate these principles, since the panoptical management style is still the dominant reference point for most management teams, whether we like it or not.


CONCLUSION Change management is certainly one of the most frequently cited and taught topics in the management sciences. Countless works, special issues of reviews, symposia and professional events are devoted to it. However, reflections in this field are often carried out by consulting companies, who are more interested in promoting their methodology or expertise than developing a real framework for scientific analysis that can be used as a foundation for relevant actions. Such is the aim of this work. Based on an extensive review of the scientific literature in sociology and the management sciences, we intend to show that before deciding on a particular change management method and rushing headlong into implementing a particular method, a certain number of analytical markers must be set out. In the first chapter, we stressed the need for analytical categories to enable us to describe a change process in a systematic way. It is then a case of answering the following questions: What is the purpose of the change? Does it relate to the organisation of work, corporate culture, strategy, HRM policies, production technologies, information system, etc.? At what level is it situated? Is it of strategic, managerial or operational importance? What is its temporality? What are its limits (beginning and end), preparatory stages and key phases?

In the second chapter, we then underlined how the change process may be explained by various approaches which may be combined, by considering the following questions in turn: What are the objectives and expected results (planning approach)? What stakeholders are involved, what are their stakes, assets, means of action, and strategic alliances in the face of the change process (political approach)? What are the previous decisions whose temporality interferes with the process under way (incremental approach)? What are the constraints and opportunities of the context, both internal and external, to which we need to adapt (contingent approach)? What combinations of old and new conventions can we find to give a collectively acceptable meaning to the process under way (interpretativist approach)?

The combination of these different approaches has led to the creation of an integrated model, known as the five forces model, which enables us to decode the multiple trajectories that a change process may follow. This model, which forms the backbone of our work, logically leads to an updated way of evaluating the change processes. Hence, in the third chapter, we proposed a multidimensional evaluation framework that examines not only the degree to which the initial objectives are achieved (planning approach) but also the degree of appropriateness to contextual constraints (contingent approach), the degree to which the diverging interests involved are satisfied (political approach), the degree to which the project connects with past temporalities (incremental approach) and the degree to which the change is integrated into the stock of experiences and knowledge accumulated within the organisation (interpretativist


approach). Applying this evaluation framework to four contrasting cases of change enabled us to illustrate all its usefulness and relevance. In the fourth chapter, we tried to anticipate possible scenarios of evolution, while remaining aware of the fundamentally unpredictable nature of the course of change. Two variables may play a key role in this respect: the power distribution that characterises the organisation in which the change is taking place (influence system) and the management style adopted. The influence system may be characterised by two fundamentally different types: either we observe a dispersal of the poles of power (centrifugal influence system), linked to the presence of skilled operators; or we see a concentration of power in the upper layers of the organisation (centripetal influence system). As for the management style, it may be marked by rationalisation, attempts at reducing areas of uncertainty, and the quest for transparency: it will then be described as panoptical. Or it may on the contrary be open to a plurality of rationalities, to negotiation and compromise, to acceptance of the interplay of light and darkness that characterises the life of any organisation: it will then be considered as polyphonic. Combining these two variables gives us four different logics that may emerge during a change process: the first two lead to a perpetuation of the structure in place (panoptical management in a centripetal influence system), or situations of dissidence (panoptical management in a centrifugal influence system); the last two are more conducive to organisational adaptation (polyphonic management in a centripetal influence system) and even innovation (polyphonic management in a centrifugal influence system). Such a set of hypotheses enables us to reject the hypothesis of congruence, at least in its mechanical form, when it associates the panoptical management style with a centripetal context, and the polyphonic management style with a centrifugal context. By constructing scenarios of probable evolution and defining the crucial role played by the management style in change management, these hypotheses are a preliminary to the managerial action, which remains to be defined. The fifth and final chapter, on the subject of change as a process to be managed, has precisely enabled us to approach the outlines of a polyphonic management style, which proves more apt, by virtue of its capacity for combining the plurality of organisational voices, to lead a change process towards success. This alternative method of change management, which refers largely to the conceptualisation of innovation processes put forward by the proponents of the actornetwork theory (Akrich, Callon & Latour, 2006), presupposes that the project promoters attention is focused more on the process (temporalities, stakeholders, meanings) and on the context in which it is introduced that on the content of this project. The main methodological stages may be summarised as follows: the importance of an initial contextualisation, which is aimed at obtaining the most complete picture possible of the organisational context (functions, professions, concrete work processes) and the corporate context (interests involved, power games, etc.) in which the change takes place and which allow us to anticipate its potential impacts; the concern for creating enrolment and mobilisation: this is not just a case of appointing people, but rather assigning a specific role to the key stakeholders who emerge from the previous phase, making sure that they accept it and will be able to appropriate this role within a steering committee or in related work groups, supporting their involvement, etc.; the need to problematise the change by formalising a common objective, while


fighting the temptation of predetermination and supporting unforeseen appropriations; the evolution towards convergence via various actions of investments of form, and through the constitution of obligatory points of passage; here, the classic tools of project management (action plans, dashboards, etc.) may come into their own, as long as the target audience is informed about their use in a specially adapted communication campaign that explains what progress has been made and what stages have been completed, thus marking out thresholds of irreversibility in the process; the extension of the network that is being formed, through the application of continuous evaluation principle. This consists of constantly monitoring the threats and weaknesses that may hamper the project, as well as the opportunities and strengths that may help it progress by incorporating new components.

We should bear in mind that in reality, these various methodological stages are closely interlinked and may be reinitialised several times during the change process. Carrying on from the works of Alter (2000), we have thus been able to observe that by adopting an appropriate management method which, on the basis of a particular context, is capable of constantly translating the interests involved, giving shared meaning to the change process and connecting it to the various temporalities of the projects under way, we can avoid the determinations of this context, to a certain extent. The reader will surely have noted that the polyphonic management style gives pride of place to the political approach: by placing emphasis on the power games between stakeholders with diverging interests, the latter logically constitutes the conceptual basis of a management style that is defined by the confrontation of several voices. This primacy of the political approach has not prevented us from making use of other approaches, however: indeed, these are mobilised one after the other during the different methodological phases derived from the actor-network theory. At the other extreme, a panoptical management style appears to be more dominated by the planning approach, with its concern for rationalisation and wish to impose change from the top. The planning approach and political approach thus appear as the two extreme poles of a continuum, making it possible to place the panoptical and polyphonic management styles in opposition to each other. We should stress that the first of these conceptions refers above all to a visual metaphor (seeing all, controlling all) while the second refers more to an auditory metaphor (several voices in dialogue). Our insistence on management style, which restores a possibility of intervention for managers as well as creators of meaning, in no way means that conflicts of interest around the change process can be removed, reduced or controlled as a result of managerial actions: here we must forcefully reaffirm the fundamentally uncertain outcome of power relationships. Identifying the main stakeholders involved and the strategies they are likely to deploy does not make it any easier for managers to control the course of change: to think that would be to give in to the panoptical temptation that we have criticised during this work. It is therefore wrong to believe that change can be steered from above, even if it takes conflicts of interests into account and tries to translate them. On the contrary, acknowledging the predominant influence of emergent factors leads to a great deal of modesty in change process management, as change above all takes shape through trial and error and mutual adjustments, in an iterative manner.


Since there is no possibility of controlling the course of change, the main benefit of a polyphonic management style lies in the orientation that it can give to the change process, as Carnall suggests: Managing the politics of change requires us to consider the interests of the various groups involved in the changes but it requires much more than that. Ultimately, it involves us in finding ways of making sense of the blooming, blooming confusion around us. Creating effective organizations is not about eliminating corporate politics. There is too much uncertainty for that to be feasible. It is about finding principles of action which allow politics and conflicts to be handled constructively and thus harnessed for corporate change (1990, pp. 136-137). We hope that our work has made a contribution to this.


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