Course Syllabus - Carnegie Mellon University
Topics | Pre-Requisites | Behavioral Norms | Grading
Reading Log | Term Papers | Schedule

Professor Denise M. Rousseau
Carnegie-Mellon University
Campus phone: 268-8470 Fax: 268-7036
Home phone and fax: 487-6639

Organizational Change: Transition and Transformation

Organizational change occurs in many forms from minor transitions to transformations and upheavals. Effectively managing change involves different activities depending on the scope of change and the organization's readiness for it. Special attention will be given to managing disruptions from transitions and the inevitable losses that change brings.


bulletStrategies for Accommodation (minor changes) versus Transformation (major upheavals)
bulletChange processes
bulletDiagnosing readiness for change
bulletBuilding support and legitimacy
bulletTop/down and bottom/up facilitation of change
bulletCommunicating to critical constituencies (e.g. employees, clients, boards and the general public)
bulletCreating permanent change (making it last)

* Required Text: Todd Jick, Managing change: Cases and concepts. Homewood, IL: Irwin, 1993. (Designated as "J" next to assigned readings)

* Recommended Text: Denise M. Rousseau, Psychological contracts in organizations: Understanding written and unwritten agreements. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

* Copies are available in Heinz's Reserve Room for your use in that room.


Although there are no formal course pre-requisites, this course builds upon organizational behavior concepts and theory presented in Performance Management (90-808) and Human Behavior in Organizations (45-792). Students who have not completed one of these courses should obtain preparatory readings from the instructor.

Behavioral Norms

(1)  Individual Participation: You are expected to come prepared to ask questions that add to your understanding of the course materials as well as that of your fellow students.

(2)  "New Business": Each class will begin with a poll of new business items. These are brief ("sound bite") reports on events (in the news--front page, business, or sports section; Heinz; your personal experiences) pertinent to organizational change. I expect each class member will make at least one contribution to New Business during the mini term.

(3)  Readings: You are expected to read all the materials and in your reading, you should continually ask yourself the following two questions:

   (a) Do I understand the theory and/or principles of this material?

   (b) So what? What are its implications? How would I apply this as a manager?

You are asked to actively participate by raising these questions as well as others during our class time.

All assigned readings should be completed prior to the class for which they are specified. Readings will be briefly reviewed to check for understanding at the beginning of each class. Be prepared to answer questions regarding the readings and more importantly to ask them.


Your grade will be determined based upon:

   Reading log: One paragraph summary of insights from each assigned reading (turned in within one week of assignment): 30%

   Group Project #1 (Peter Browning and Continental White Cap): 30%

   Group Project #2 (Organizational change analysis): 30%

   Individual participation: 10%

Reading Log

For each (non-case) reading assigned you will receive two points for turning in a one page summary of your thoughts and insights.

bulletIf you agree with the reading, tell us with what. If you dispute the author, indicate how and why.
bulletWhat practical applications can you identify from the reading?
You will receive two points for each successfully completed summary. Previous students have benefitted from using the reading logs to retain a permanent record of the useful ideas each reading offers.

Note: Reading logs are to be turned in only on ARTICLES read, not on case analyses which serve as a basis for class discussion.

Term Papers

Two group papers (maximum length 5 pages) are required in this course. Their purpose is to give you an opportunity to apply class concepts in the solution of practical problems.

Paper #1 Peter Browning and Continental White Cap

The Case: What are the critical issues facing Peter Browning and Continental White Cap? His goals? The organization's goals? (1 page)

The Analysis: What are White Cap's strengths and weaknesses in light of its goals and the objectives for the proposed change? What type of change strategy is indicated? (2 pages)

The Action Plan: What steps do you recommend in implementing the planned change? Be specific with regard to processes for gaining support, implementing new practices and procedures, and institutionalizing the change. What contingency plans might be needed to manage change effectively? (2 pages)

Paper #2 Change Management Case

The Group: You will work with 2 other students on a change management consulting case (Jacobs Suchard). Your group must develop a group contract for completing the project (1 page).

The Options: You may elect to work with a project team including students from 2 other universities: George Mason University (in Virginia) and Bocconi University (in Italy). Or, you may work with Heinz students locally. In the spirit of innovation and learning how to manage change among yourselves(!) your faithful professor promises that if you elect to work in an international team a) you will learn the latest virtual team communication technologies, and b) have comparable grading distribution to local teams. The coordination costs will be somewhat higher for you upfront but the learning and grade outcome will be comparable or higher.

All teams will be asked to complete a one-page Group Contract affirming the commitments they make to each other regarding how they will work together on project 2. All groups will also be asked to complete a brief evaluation of the group's process at the completion of project two. Overall feedback regarding what our groups have learned regarding coordination and teamwork (virtual and otherwise) will be summarized and provided for you upon the completion of the course.

Note that night students with "real jobs" may elect to do the project individually. (Never say we aren't flexible at Heinz!)

All groups may elect to use Lotus Notes (accessible via the Web) to share documents and ideas about the case. Students who elect to work with an international project team may also use NetMeeting (a PC-based video- conference system which will be set up in a conference room at Heinz). User-friendly training will be provided for both Lotus Notes and NetMeeting.

The Analysis: Using class concepts, analyze the conditions (organizational, group and individual) which affect readiness for change and potential responses to change (1 page). Be sure to carefully apply theory and research in a manner consistent with the meanings specified for each class concept you use. Here is your chance to develop and exercise diagnostic skills.

The Recommendations: Based on your diagnosis, develop specific recommendations for change in the target organization. (2 pages)

The Action Plan: Based on your analysis, develop a strategy for effectively implementing your recommended changes (2 pages). Be detailed, specific and realistic (no "pie in the sky"). Consider not only the results you wish, the change levers you would use to produce those results, but also the process (timing, preparation) needed to effectively carry out those changes.


October 22 Week 1: Introduction/Syllabus

   Basic issues in Change Management

   Topics: Types of change: Drift, Accommodation and Transformation
A basic model: Four essential conditions

   Readings: "The challenge of change" (J)
     Rousseau (ch 6) "Changing the psychological contract"

October 29 Week 2: Beginnings--Vision

Topics: Creating a felt need for change
Communication strategies
Imagery and message sending

Case: Bob Galvin and Motorola (A)

(1) What impact do you think Galvin's offer meeting speech will have?
(2) What should Galvin do next? What should Human Resources do next?
(3) Is Galvin's leadership philosophy and practice a model of
"Visionary Leadership"?

Readings: Envision change (J)
Richards and Engle: After the vision: suggestions to
Corporate visionaries and vision champions (J) Spector: From bogged down to fired up: Inspiring organizational change (J)
Vision thing (A and B)--both should be summarized in a single reading log (J)

November 5 Week 3: Change Agents--Building Support

Topics: Building credibility
Getting resources and political support
Who makes the best change agents

Case: Debrief Peter Browning

Readings: Implementing change (J)
Nadler and Tuschman Organizational frame bending:
Principles for managing reorientation (J) Beer, Eistenstat and Spector: Why change programs don't produce change (J)

Case #1 due on November 5
Group Contract for Paper #2 due on November 12

November 12 Week 4: Managing Losses

Topics: Outcome Fairness: Remedies, substitutes
Procedural justice
Escalating contract violation

Case: Rick Miller (A and B)

(1) What does it feel like to be sold? How have Miller's life and career been affected by each of the two ownership changes?

(2) How would you have reacted differently if you were in his shoes?

(3) What would you do now if you were Miller? How and when should he meet with his staff? What would you say to them? (Be prepared to role play)

(4) How would you advise him to cope with these circumstances personally?

Readings: Rousseau (ch 5) "Violating the psychological contract" *

November 19: Week 5: Recipients of change

Case: Donna Dubinsky (J)

(1) Why was Dubinsky initially so successful at Apple?

(2) Why did she respond the way she did to the JIT proposal? (put yourselves in her situation, intellectually and emotionally)

(3) What do you think she should have done differently? Be specific.

Readings: Recipients of change--introduction (J)
Faludi: The reckoning: Safeway LBO yields vast profits but Exacts heavy human toll (SKIM--no summary needed) (J)
Faludi: Facing Raiders, Kroger took another path (J)
Letters to the editor (J)
Recipients of change--summary article (J) *


December 3 Week 6: Ending--Institutionalization

Making change last
Permeating the organization
Integrated change into "systems" (e.g. HR, operations)

Readings: Stewart: GE keeps those ideas coming (J) *
Senge: The leader's new work: Building learning organizations (J) *
Wiggenhorn: Motorola U: When training becomes education (J)

Paper #2 due December Evaluation of process should accompany your completed paper.

Updated 11/4/1998
Contact Information Copyright 1998 George Mason University