Perceptions of organizational values in the change management process: A case study
Although a number of theorists still debate whether an organization can have values (Agle & Caldwell, 1999), there is a plethora of literature on values in most disciplines ranging from interpretation, definition, and measurement instruments at the individual, organizational, and societal level. This thesis looks at how individuals in two business units perceive espoused organizational values through a defined period of change. There has been little prior research on individual perceptions of organizational values during organizational change. The research that has been conducted has tended to be concentrated on singular or multiple organizations. Much of this research has been longitudinal in nature and in the past rather than the present tense. Most studies have been qualitative in nature. This research differs whilst been conducted in a singular organization two different business units are compared and the respondents answered in real time. The research questions posited were formulated based on the work of Amis (2002) who found that individuals tended to be aligned with organizational values, when a period of change occurred individuals tended to move away from the organizational values before realigning themselves after the change was completed. This research investigates the following questions.
- Do employees understand organizational values?
- Can employees relate to organizational values through a change program?
- Do employees move away from organizational values through a change program and then re-align themselves with the organizational values as the change program is completed? The organization within which the research was conducted was Vodafone New Zealand. The two business units surveyed came under the umbrella of Customer Operations which is a department that can be viewed as the interface between the organization and its customers. The organization began its values journey nearly four years ago and its foundation values of “communication”, “supportive”, “excellence”, “business savvy”, and “integrity” had been fully integrated into working practice. Because Vodafone was reasonably new to New Zealand as an organization when it acquired Bell South it was able to literally re brand, and commence the start of a cultural change over a weekend. Values were considered central to this shift by Vodafone globally to make the acquisition easier. Vodafone had until 2003 been in acquisition mode and cementing its place in the New Zealand market. From 2003, the organization realized that it also needed to have in place a retention strategy to maintain its customers and a change in organizational direction started to occur along with a new Chief Executive Officer, Tim Miles. Individuals from both groups were given the same questionnaire three times asking them for their perceptions on their understanding of the organizational values, and the change process. The survey was conducted over a three month period starting from before the implementation of new organizational values. It was found that Group One as a whole appeared to be more aligned with the organizational values and understood their program of change for the duration of the survey, whilst Group Two as a whole tended to move away from the organizational values and be confused about their particular change process at the three month stage. Both groups however, had a good understanding of the organizational values and why the organization had values. The differences between the two groups could be attributed to differences in the way the change was communicated, implemented, and unrealistic timeframes.