Towards A Culturally Sensitive Approach To Organization Structuring: Where Organization Design Meets Organizational Development

Bate, Paul; Khan, Raza; Pye, Annie
March 2000
Organization Science;Mar/Apr2000, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p197
Academic Journal
This article describes an holistic model of intervention geared to achieving transformational change by interweaving culture and structure through the warp and weft of leadership processes. That is, it brings together organization design and organization development by advocating a culturally sensitive approach to organization structuring. Our emphasis is on process throughout and our thesis is based on empirical evidence. We undertook a lengthy action research project (which we prefer to call "action ethnography") at a large hospital trust in England. In the process of elaborating this field study, we move from an organization which was seen to be "gridlocked" and to have "lost its steering capacity", through one which was bringing development and design together by way of pilot projects and transitional structures, to one where collective dialogue and debate finally led to some collective and sensible sensemaking. Exploring this relationship between culture and structure enables us to put people back into design and with them, their meanings, aspirations and assumptions. It also means that we are careful to avoid detailing specific design choices or offering organizational archetypes: this article is primarily about the process issues that surround redesign rather than organization design per se, as indeed any redesign is ultimately highly specific and context-driven. Instead, however, we articulate a four- phase change model, focusing on the delicate processes by which to reframe the culture-structure relationship, enabling an organization to move towards fundamental change.


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