In their Fall 1995 article, the authors discussed the four elements necessary to establish a behavioral context that rejuvenates a company’s employees — discipline, support, trust, and stretch. In this sequel, they trace the common threads in successful companies’ transformation processes — simplification, integration, and regeneration. In an extensive study, they discovered that carefully phased or sequenced processes were more effective than sudden frenzied commitment to the latest management fad. Along with a phased approach, the successful companies recognized that the real challenge in transformation was to change people’s attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors. Only when managers committed to the long-term effort required to establish the four characteristics necessary for a new behavioral environment were they able to create companies that could renew themselves.
1. See C.A. Bartlett and S. Ghoshal, “Rebuilding Behavioral Context: Turn Process Reengineering into People Revitalization,” Sloan Management Review, Fall 1995, pp. 11–23.
2. Results are from the Bain & Co./Planning Forum Survey reported in:
D.K. Rigby, “Managing the Management Tools,” Planning Review, September-October 1994, pp. 20–24.
4. Jack Welch described this logic in a presentation at the Harvard Business School in 1992. The logic can also be inferred from the detailed descriptions of the changes at GE. See:
N.M. Tichy and S. Sherman, Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will (New York: Doubleday, 1993).
5. “Competitiveness from Within,” speech to GE employees, 1985.
6. Bartlett and Ghoshal (1995).
7. Past research on organizational climate has highlighted the importance of standards, feedback, and sanctions in building organizational discipline. See, for example:
G.H. Litwin and R.A. Stringer, “Motivation and Organizational Climate” (Boston: Harvard Business School, Division of Research, 1968);
R.T. Pascale, “The Paradox of Corporate Culture: Reconciling Ourselves to Socialization,” California Management Review 13 (1985): 546–558; and
G.G. Gordon and N. DiTomaso, “Predicting Corporate Performance from Organizational Culture,” Journal of Management Studies 29 (1992): 783–798.
8. For the importance of support in enhancing corporate performance, see:
R. Walton, “From Control to Commitment in the Workplace,” Harvard Business Review, March-April 1985, pp. 76–84.
For a more academically grounded analysis of the organizational requirements to create this attribute of behavioral context, see:
R. Calori and P. Sarnnin, “Corporate Culture and Economic Performance: A French Study,” Organizational Studies 12 (1991): 49–74.
9. Gordon and DiTomaso have shown the positive influence that ambitious goals can have on organizational climate. See Gordon and DiTomaso (1992).
For the importance of values and personal meaning, see:
J.R. Hackman and G.R. Oldham, Work Redesign (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1980); and
K.W. Thomas and B.A. Velthouse, “Cognitive Elements of Empowerment: An Interpretative Model of Intrinsic Task Motivation,” Academy of Management Review 15 (1990): 666–681.
10. The importance of trust features prominently in the academic literature on organizational climate. See, for example:
J.P. Campbell, M.D. Dunette, E.E. Lawler, and K.E. Weick, Managerial Behavior, Performance, and Effectiveness (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970).
For a more recent contribution on the effect of trust, see:
R.D. Denision, Corporate Culture and Organizational Effectiveness (New York: John Wiley, 1990).
11. See, for example:
R.P. Rumelt, “Inertia and Transformation,” in C.M. Montgomery, ed., Resource-Based and Evolutionary Theories of the Firm (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995).