Recent decades have seen a sustained growth of interest from academics and practicing managers in structural change in the contemporary workplace. Some of this attention has been directed at the implementation of initiatives of planned organizational change, often involving newer information and communications technologies, and often conceived and labelled by managers as projects. Most empirical studies of projects of organizational change have been concerned with the promotion of universal guides to management success and, by implication, to organizational prosperity. The bias towards generalized prescriptions for performance and management ‘best practice’ has been accompanied by a relative shortage of context-bound studies intended to reveal the reality of the nature and role of the project concept in relation to organizational change. The purpose of this study is to contribute to understanding of what change project management processes are adopted and, further, how they are determined by the characteristics of an organization. In pursuit of this broad aim the research takes a grounded, theory-generating approach. The foundation of the research design is a series of case studies of projects of change in four UK organizations in contrasting sectors. The main source of data is unstructured audio-taped interviews with ‘change drivers’ - those managers responsible for the conception and implementation of the projects. The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis is used to compare and contrast instances of expressions of managerial action or intent which arise from managers’ attention to contextual considerations. Data reduction is carried out in three stages, each representing a progressively higher level of theoretical abstraction. The findings of the research are expressed as an integrated theory and a series of propositions, generalized within the boundaries of the study, relating management process to context via a set of intermediate variables representing the extent to which the change drivers feel in control of the change. The conclusions may be summarized in three statements. First, drivers of projects of organizational change apply a general repertoire of six common management processes, each of which is employed to a greater or lesser extent at any time. Second, the extent of enaction of each process element may be considered as an expression of the change drivers’ possession or pursuit of personal control over the change. Third, feelings of personal control are partly determined by managers’ attention to selected issues which arise from key characteristics of the organization and its sector
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