Understanding the emergent approach to change

Authored by: Bernard Burnes

The Routledge Companion to Organizational Change

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415556453
eBook ISBN: 9780203810279
Adobe ISBN: 9781136680908


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The emergent approach to change is based on the assumption that change is not a linear process or a one-off isolated event, but a continuous, open-ended, cumulative and unpredictable process of aligning and re-aligning an organization to its changing environment (Falconer, 2002). Weick (2000: 225) comments as follows on studies of emergent change:

The recurring story is one of autonomous initiatives that bubble up internally; continuous emergent change; steady learning from both failure and success; strategy implementation that is replaced by strategy making; the appearance of innovations that are unplanned, unforeseen and unexpected; and small actions that have surprisingly large consequences.

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