Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Dale P. Swoboda
The communication of an organizational change vision is a key to the success of organizational transformation. Theorists have prescribed models of how to make change vision communication successful but these models have no empirical data to support them. The purpose of this study was to explore the efficacy of change agents in communicating a change vision that compels employees to accept a perception of reality (mental model) that aligned with the change agents' vision. A case study of the merger of two metropolitan agencies was conducted to examine the relationship between the communication of a change vision and its effect on organizational change. The primary change agent and several organizational members affected by the transformation were interviewed. Primary and secondary organizational documents concerning the merger were collected. Mental models from organizational members were compared for similarity to the change agent's vision. Written and oral materials communicating the change vision were analyzed using Automap text analysis software as a measure of effectiveness and to determine which type of communication was most effective. Findings suggest that the change agent's vision was poorly defined and communicated yet the transformation succeeded because organizational members created their own compensating change vision. Social change implications of this study may include challenging unproductive methods of organizational change that have wasted resources and led to organizational misalignment. A better understanding of the communication of change visions will lead to cost savings and more effective and efficient change efforts that benefit managers, employees and the customers of public agency services.