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|THE ROLE OF LEGACY IN IMPLEMENTING CHANGE IN LONG STANDING ORGANIZATIONS: A CASE STUDY
|Hurst, Deborah, Athabasca University, Suddaby, Roy, University of Victoria
|Devine, Kay, Athabasca University, Internal, Durepos, Gabrielle, Mount Saint Vincent University, External
|Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
|Centre for Distance Education
|Legacy, Cultural Embeddedness, History, Identity, Institutional Entrepreneur, Measured Evolution, Rhetorical History, Rhetorical Language, Long Standing Organizations, Mergers, Acquisitions, Cultural Hurdles
|The consensus in organizational change literature is that, over time, organizations become increasingly resistant to change. This observation occurs in several strands of institutional theory, often using different constructs or terminology. These different terms include structural inertia, institutionalization, imprinting, and path dependence. Although they are all somewhat different, I argue that these four constructs are really addressing a common issue and share a number of central and core components, each of which focuses on explaining the powerful roles of history, identity, and cultural embeddedness that reinforce the tendency of long-standing organizations to resist change.
I discuss the umbrella construct of organizational legacy to capture these shared components. I define organizational legacy as the narrowing of strategic choice and capacity to change that occurs as a consequence of an organization’s own successful history. I argue that, while prior research on resistance to organizational change has addressed individual components of organizational legacy, there is little actually addressing the holistic concept of legacy as a key factor in resisting organizational change. Moreover, few studies have addressed how legacy can be managed in a way that enables organizational change. My theoretical research question, thus, is “what is organizational legacy in Canadian Professional Accounting Organizations?” and my empirical question is “how can legacy be managed to facilitate organizational change?”
This study, which used the associations as the research field, observes the current and historical attempts to unify the Canadian accounting profession, specifically focusing on how the elements of history, identity, and cultural embeddedness result in strong organizational legacies. Increased external pressures, including slowing domestic population growth, global competition, and lack of differentiation, are forcing accounting associations in Canada to change in order to maintain viability, and eliminating institutional barriers between the associations is currently at the forefront of strategic planning for the accounting profession in Canada. By examining past unification attempts, the study achieves a thorough understanding of how powerful cultural norms can affect change efforts and why institutional entrepreneurs need to be strong change agents when faced with organizational legacy.
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