BUSI4400 Management of Information
Managing IT-enabled
organizational change
Dr Gerald Grant
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
The introduction of computer-based
information systems into an organization
should be viewed as a major technological
 Managing IT-enabled change is becoming
more complex with time.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Introduction (continued)
 Benjamin and Blunt (1992 pp. 16-17) suggest that
“the technology is allowing us to build ever larger and
more complex systems, and supporting interdependent
business processes will require those larger and more
complex systems. Thus IT will continue to be involved in
a change process that, at the same time, it makes more
complex. IT complicates the change process in a number
of ways: it moves the locus of knowledge and hence
power in the organization, it changes the time dimension
of processes and decisions, and it enables new
organizational constructs to be implemented.”
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Introduction (continued)
“organizations must recognize that managing
the change enabled by IT is at least as
important as bringing IT into the organization”
(Benjamin and Levinson, 1993, p.33).
The success of any change management
exercise is highly dependent on organizational
members executing their roles effectively.
These roles include:
The leadership provided by top management,
the implementing skills of middle management
and the involvement of user personnel
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Introduction (continued)
However, according to Markus and Benjamin, (1997)
Failure can still occur even when all parties are
confident that they have done their jobs
Both IT specialist and line managers frequently
have and hold onto failure-promoting beliefs
about their roles in change
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Characteristics of IT-enabled
IT-enabled change processes are different from
general change processes in a number of
significant ways (Bejamin and Levinson, 1993)
 IT radically impacts skills, jobs and organizational
control processes.
 Change reaches across functional and organizational
 IT shifts the balance of organizational knowledge and
 Operational process cycles speed up
 IT changes work methods
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Political nature of IT-enabled
Introducing IT-enabled change in
organizations is more than just a technical
It is an intensely political issue as well
(Keen 1981).
Successful change interventions require
the galvanizing of organizational commitment
the building of support among affected groups
the creation of a momentum for change
These are substantially political processes.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Resistance to IT-enabled
organizational change
Resistance is defined as “behaviors
intended to prevent the implementation or
use of a system or to prevent systems
designers from achieving their objectives”
Markus (1983)
Resistance can be viewed from different
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Resistance to IT-enabled
organizational change
Resistance is most often viewed as an undesirable
behavior attributed to systems users.
Alternatively, resistance may be desirable or
undesirable depending on the setting, users and
systems designers.
Resistance may at times be beneficial to the
For example, if it prevents the implementation of
systems with long term dysfunctional
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Reasons People Resist Change
Luftman, et al. (2004 p. 278)
Loss of face
Loss of control
Excess uncertainty
The “difference
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Change will affect
other issues/roles
More work
Past resentments
Real Threats
Who resists IT-enabled change
ideas (Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
IT specialists
too fond of the latest technology
resistant to new technology ideas
because of gaps in their own knowledge and
expertise, inability to cope with support
demands, etc.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Who resist IT-enabled change
ideas (Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
Line managers
may insist on the exclusive right to make
technology decisions even if alternative
solutions which fully meet business goals are
suggested by others, particularly users.
Fear the impact of IT on their jobs and careers
May genuinely feel that proposed solutions will
not work.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Theories of resistance:
Resistance to IT-enabled change can be viewed
from a number of theoretical perspectives
(Markus, 1983)
good theories about resistance are essential in
dealing effectively with the phenomena.
Three theoretical perspectives:
Interaction theory
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Theories of resistance and their
implications (adapted from Markus, 1983)
1. People determined
2. System determined
People resist ITinduced change
because they don’t like
or want to change.
3. Interaction Theory
People resist
change because of
poor technical
systems design
and development
People resist change because of the impact of the change on the social
and political context: IT may alter relationships and power structures
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Theories of resistance and their
implications (adapted from Markus, 1983)
1. People determined
2. System determined
from which
is viewed
Focus on individual
3. Interaction Theory
Emphasis on
technical design
Socio-technical and political:
Focus on interaction between technical and socio-political factors
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Theories of resistance and their implications
Dealing with resistance
(adapted from Markus, 1983)
People-determined View
 Select people open to change
 Educate users (training)
 Coerce users (edicts and
 Persaude users
 Involve users in design and
development to obtain
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Theories of resistance and their implications
Dealing with resistance
(adapted from Markus, 1983)
System-determined View
 Educate systems designers
(better technology)
 Improve human-computer
 Modify systems to conform to
how people actually work
 Involve users in the design
process to get better designs
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Theories of resistance and their implications
Dealing with resistance
(adapted from Markus, 1983)
Interaction Theory View
 Introduce organizational changes
before implementing systems
 Restructure incentives for users
 Restructure relationships
between users and designers (eg.
decentralizing responsibility for
systems development)
 Recognize that participation is
not always appropriate
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
A framework for managing change
(Mento, Jones, Dirndorfer, 2002)
 Highlight the idea and context for change
 Define the change initiative
 Evaluate the climate for change
 Develop a change plan
 Find and cultivate a sponsor
 Prepare your target audience, the recipients of change
 Create the cultural fit – making the change last
 Develop and choose the change leader team
 Create small wins for motivation
 Constantly and strategically communicate the change
 Measure progress of the change effort
 Integrate lessons learned
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
IT-enabled change is difficult
Markus and Benjamin (1997) suggests
that there are no ‘magic bullets’ in ITenabled organizational change.
Such change involves much hard work
and must deliberately involve people at all
levels, technologists, entrepreneurs, and
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
IT-enabled change is difficult
“only users behaving mindfully can achieve
appropriate and effective use of IT. Users must
understand and accept the idea of and reasons
for change. They must also thoroughly
understand not only how to use IT but also how
to use it to accomplish desired results”.
(Markus and Benjamin, 1997 p. 59)
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Roles for IT-enabled change agents
(Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
IT Change Facilitators:
Focus on bringing together all the resources
necessary to effect change: good technologies,
supportive organizational conditions, and
knowledgeable, mindful users
Empower people about IT, expanding their
opportunities to learn more about IT and
organizational change and to participate more
effectively in decisions about IT.
Help organizational members to accept their IToriented behaviors
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Roles for IT-enabled change
agents (Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
IT Change Facilitators:
improves chances of implementation success by
focusing attention on what works.
builds mutual respect between organizational
members and groups
Who can be IT change facilitators?
neutral party - consultant or person from other
IT specialists or business executive
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Roles for IT-enabled change
agents (Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
IT change advocate role:
Focuses on inspiring organizational members
to embrace IT-enabled organizational change.
Uses any means including overt persuasion,
covert manipulation, symbolic communication,
and sometimes exercise of formal power to
effect desired change.
Focuses is on getting results.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Roles for IT-enabled change
agents (Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
IT change advocate role:
Advantages of change advocates:
They are especially useful when benefits
of IT implementation cannot be ascribed
to one particular group, e.g. in large scale
IT infrastructure projects.
Who can perform advocacy role?
business managers, IT specialists, users
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Successful change mangement
(Markus and Benjamin, 1997)
giving people a chance to learn
designing learning experiments
visualizing and dramatizing ideas
Takes good ideas, skill and hard work
Is everyone’s job
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Introducing IT into organizations:
three generic strategies (Mckersie and Walton, 1991)
Preemptive organizational change followed by IT
This envisages a situation where organizational
changes have already been effected in preparation for
the implementation of IT.
IT is pulled into place by the users rather than pushed
by sponsors or superiors (Mckersie and Walton, 1991,
p. 251)
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Introducing IT into organizations:
three generic strategies (Mckersie and Walton, 1991)
Simultaneous implementation of organizational
change and IT.
allows mutual adaptation of the technical and social
subsystem of an IT installation (Mckersie and Walton,
1991, p.253)..
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Introducing IT into organizations:
three generic strategies (Mckersie and Walton, 1991)
Introduction of IT systems without adjusting the
prevailing organizational arrangements.
deliberate choice to use technology to push the
organization to change and adopt new ways of
IT is seen as a catalyst that will generate the need for
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
User participation and involvement in
IT design and implementation
The involvement of users and other stakeholders
in the design, development and introduction of IT
systems is generally well accepted among IT
practitioners and managers.
User participation is seen as a precursor to
commitment and effective use of the systems.
Researchers and practitioners alike have
demonstrated the practical benefits of user
participation in systems design and development
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Benefits of user participation
and involvement
Systems that more fully meet user needs
More user commitment to and ownership of IS
Less resistance to new systems
Potential for more effective use of the system
Increased opportunities for learning to take
Greater overall productivity
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
User participation - not a
Some of the difficulties presented by extensive user
involvement include:
 users are likely to protect their own vested interests as
opposed to supporting corporate objectives.
 systems that are highly specified and require tight
integration with other systems may limit the extent of user
 users may demand too many features that cannot
realistically be incorporated into the design and
 systems that span multiple sites and functions may present
difficulties in involving all the relevant users.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Human resource policies supporting ITenabled change programs McKersie and Walton (1991)
Work organization and job design
In order to benefit from new IT systems
managers must ensure that jobs are
designed to take best advantage of the
properties of the new technologies while
increasing their motivating, competence
building and communication properties.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Human resource policies supporting ITenabled change programs - McKersie and Walton (1991)
Selection of potential users
Incumbent workers whose job are
affected by the new systems
Training them to operate the new
technologies may bring greater synergy
and increased motivation.
Sometimes entirely new workers may be
brought in to enhance the skills base and
change the operational culture.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Human resource policies supporting ITenabled change programs -McKersie and Walton (1991)
A significant number of systems implementations
fail because employees received inadequate
training in using the new systems.
Training consumes substantial resources.
Training, whether formal or informal, on-the-job
or in classrooms, provide the base on which user
competence is built.
Highly competent employees provide the basis
for successful systems use and exploitation.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Human resource policies supporting ITenabled change programs -McKersie and Walton (1991)
Employment security
The introduction of information technology
creates instability in affected parts of the
People become more uncertain of their jobs,
particularly if they feel vulnerable.
Consequently, employees may start looking for
alternative employment even when they may not
be affected by change
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Human resource policies supporting ITenabled change programs -McKersie and Walton (1991)
Employment security
Companies which do not engage in effective
human resources planning may find themselves
without the very workers they need to improve
productivity and derive business value from IT.
Successful organizations will engage in effective
human resources planning, avoiding the
negative consequences of unplanned staff
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
Human resource policies supporting ITenabled change programs -McKersie and Walton (1991)
Performance monitoring and employee appraisal
 Monitoring performance and providing feedback to
employees is an important part of the systems
implementation and change management processes.
 Employees benefit most from appraisal and feedback
designed to support competence development and
personal growth.
 Appraisal with strictly punitive goals will be less
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant
 Markus, M. L. (1983) Power, politics and MIS implementation, Communications of
the ACM, 26(6), pp. 430-444.
 Markus, M. L. and Benjamin, R. I. (1997). The magic bullet theory in IT-enabled
transformation. Sloan Management Review, (Winter) pp. 55-68.
 McKersie and Walton (1991)
 Mento, A. J., Jones, R. M., and Dirndorfer, W. (2002) A change management
process: grounded in both theory and practice, Journal of Change Management,
3(1), pp. 45-59.
© 1996-2004 Dr Gerald Grant

Managing IT-enabled - Sprott School of Business