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“Case Analysis of Huy et al. (2014)”


In their study, Huy et al. (2014) used Tekco as a case study. A prominent information technology (IT) business with a market value of over $12 billion and more than 50,000 employees is Tekco. The company has been prosperous for many years. However, as market liberalization, technological advancements, and competition from start-ups and foreign technology corporations threatened to topple the organization in the late 1990s, its highly qualified technical staff came under pressure. The board of directors chose a new CEO from outside the business in response. It gave him the go-ahead to make significant adjustments including separating the current bureaucratic structure, altering the incentive system, lowering the cost structure, and hiring new sales and marketing staff. A well-known outside consulting firm was brought in by the company to collaborate with Tekco’s management team (TMT), which consists of 40 senior key managers with years of experience, to create radical reform projects and plans that would result in profit and cost savings within three years.

To gather the required data for the study, multiple research approaches were applied. In the formal interviews, semi-structured talks were utilized to pinpoint the overall change effort as well as any particular instances of change management. Deliberate sampling was also utilized to confirm existing data sources and widen and deepen opinions (Charmaz, 2006). Interviews were conducted with 12 executives, 26 executives, the current CEO three times, the two previous CEOs once each, and 114 intermediate managers 192 times. Additionally, unstructured talks with close to 200 workers were held in order to verify the information already available, find potential new informants, provide fresh information, and consider any opposing viewpoints. To provide a comprehensive picture of the study process, this was done in conjunction with analyzing internal records, questionnaires, and HR initiatives.

The transformation process used by Tekco includes a thorough reorganization of the business with the goal of long-term revenue growth and cost reduction. The TMT (management team) of Tekco formed a team of 40 seasoned major managers (MMs), who then hired 500 MMs from various work units. This group established a consulting business to assist them in their work and created radical transformation plans to bring about the essential adjustments. The MMs then launched more than 250 change projects with the aim of achieving a $700 million pre-tax annual cash flow by December 31, 2006, while also enhancing operations and profitability. Initially, there was no opposition to this transition and a high degree of legitimacy for the leadership. The MMs’ emotional responses to the TMs and the change program, however, became increasingly negative as the implementation phase went on. This resulted in a shift in the MMs’ acceptance of and opposition to the changes, which finally led to open defiance of the TMs’ instructions. The corporate transformation initiative of the corporation was terminated as a result of these changes alone. Huy et al. (2014) studied how these dynamics interacted with one another throughout each stage of the change process and discovered why the MM-driven approach finally failed.


2.1 Exploring the Theoretical Concepts Used in a Case Analysis

In their study titled “From support to mutiny: Shifting legitimacy judgments and emotional reactions impacting the implementation of radical change,” Huy et al. (2014) examine the dynamics of planned radical organizational change and the opposition it may encounter from employees. Theoretical ideas such planned radical organizational change, opposition to change, legitimacy, and emotional responses are all references in their work.

2.1.1 Resistance to Change

Another important theoretical subject in Huy et al.’s investigation of organizational transformation is the concept of resistance to change. For a number of psychological, social, or materialistic reasons, individuals or groups may decline or be reluctant to actively engage in activities associated to the change effort (Huy et al., 2014). Bartunek (1984) and Ford et al. (2008) highlighted in the literature the complexity of PROC and the pervasiveness of resistance to change.

Resistance to change is often seen as a side effect of PROC, despite decades of research on how to reduce employee resistance to organizational change (Kotter & Schlesinger, 1979). Depending on the situation, strategies such using punishment, persuasion, engagement, or communication have been shown to either increase or diminish support for change (Bruhn, Zajac, & Al-Kazemi, 2001).

Research on change resistance, according to Huy et al. (2014), has accepted the unquestioned viewpoint that change is beneficial and resistance to change is bad. The traditional, individualistic, and cognitive viewpoints of change resistors were challenged by Ford et al. (2008) and Bartunek et al. (2011). They argue that resistance to change should be seen as a dynamic process in which both agents and receivers’ reciprocal behaviors are important factors in deciding whether a change endeavor is successful or not. Employee behavior in reaction to a recommended change may be influenced by their perceptions of a manager’s objectives, such as whether they believe their communications are helpful or manipulative (Furst & Cable, 2008). It’s crucial to make the distinction between opposition to the proposed change content and resistance to the change agent in order to understand and effectively address resistance.

2.1.2 Legitimacy

In order to explain why individuals accept and cling to established power structures, the writers construct legitimacy. A assessment of an entity’s fitness for a certain context is how legitimacy is believed to be defined—it is a vast and complex concept. In conclusion, staff members are more likely to follow instructions from their manager if they perceive the power structure to be “legitimate.”

Recent developments in the legitimacy literature (Tost, 2011; Bitektine, 2011) highlight how important it is to comprehend the basis for this evaluation and look at how legitimacy is regarded. Tost (2011) asserts that there are three basic categories under which the content of legitimacy may be classified: instrumental, relational, and moral. Whether the entity in question is effective, efficient, or utilitarian, the emphasis of instrumental legitimacy is the specific benefits accounted for by the individual or group. Relational legitimacy places a focus on how people are treated, including their expectations being met and whether they are treated with respect and decency. Last but not least, moral legitimacy asks whether the action or inaction is consistent with one’s moral and ethical values.

The author’s explanation of legitimacy as the basis for many social and psychological processes is clear. Understanding legitimacy is necessary to comprehend people’s attitudes toward power and their choices to embrace or reject existing power structures. As a consequence, it is a crucial topic for social science study that has to be looked at further in order to comprehend how people make decisions.

2.1.3 Emotional Reactions

An emotional response, according to the authors, is “a feeling state with an identified cause or target that can be expressed verbally or non-verbally” (Huy, Corley, & Kraatz, 2014). They stress that there is still scholarly disagreement around the concept of emotion versus borderline emotion. The authors make use of Lazarus’ (1993) emotion theory, which claims that people judge an event’s importance based on its potential for good or bad, and then experience an emotion as a consequence. They draw the conclusion that emotions may affect a person’s later legitimacy evaluation and resistance to change because they may alter a person’s desire to behave.

This idea is crucial for recognizing that emotional feelings aren’t always expressed in the most accurate manner. For instance, a person can be feeling powerful emotions like fear or fury yet be unable to express them in a manner that other people can perceive. When seeking to comprehend how someone feels, it is crucial to recognize this distinction because it gives room for the possibility that an emotion may be there but not be expressed in a conventional or socially acceptable way.

Emotional states may serve as an effective predictor of legitimacy judgments and change resistance. Emotions may provide light on a person’s motivations and choices since they are typically seen as extensions of beliefs and ideals. Therefore, contemplating someone’s emotional responses might provide important information about their character. But it’s important to understand that emotional responses don’t always have to be seen as negative or destructive forces. They could also inspire positive transformation and foster wholesome connections.

2.1.4 Planned Radical Organization Change

The changes that take place when the status quo is upset are discussed by the writers using the planned radical organization change concept (Shrivastava, 1986; Simons, 1994; Greenwood & Hinings, 1996). With this approach, the authors aim to comprehend how legitimacy evaluations alter over time when dramatic changes are put into practice. This theory emphasizes the notion that changes may be radical, dramatic, planned, and purposeful.

This notion of planned radical organizational change suggests that employees inside an organization may find it especially challenging to accept or swiftly adapt to non-incremental organizational changes, such as mergers, acquisitions, or restructurings. According to their theory, these modifications lead to responses in which organization members who already feel legitimate and committed to the group will experience a flood of confusing and often contradictory feelings (Elfenbein, 2007). This outpouring of feelings is likely to increase tension and resistance (Ford et al., 2008; Bartunek, 1984).

The authors argue that when significant organizational changes are implemented, individuals’ perceptions of the change’s validity and feelings may raise or decrease their acceptance of it. In other words, the efficacy of the transformation process will be substantially impacted by the validity judgments and emotional responses of the workforce.

2.2 Analyzing the Contribution of Authors to Theory Development

This study’s authors chose to develop a theory of radical organizational change implementation (PROC), highlighting the significance of the legitimacy of the change agent in the process’s outcomes. The authors provide a dynamic model that specifically demonstrates how the PROC campaign’s outcome is influenced by “the reciprocal relationship between the cognitive legitimacy judgments and emotional reactions of change recipients in response to the attributes and actions of change agents” (Huy et al., 2014).

The results of this research provide a more complex and pluralistic view of resistance to change than what has previously been established in the literature, confirming and extending prior thinking on PROC. By integrating an active and participatory role for direct subordinates in the process of resistance to change, the authors expand on the traditional “ice cube” metaphor of change management (Lewin, 1947), which portrays a straight and simple sequence of unfreeze-change-refreeze. The authors show that organizational change does not happen in a vacuum and that change receivers’ legitimacy perceptions and emotional reactions significantly affect the PROC’s overall results. This shows that the TMs should pay particular attention to the emotional responses and legitimacy assessments of direct subordinates before to the implementation of radical organizational transformation.

The authors provide a theoretical knowledge of organizational change management that is more intricate and engaging than the “ice cube” metaphor by outlining the dynamic model created by this research. The authors contend that rather than a set path to success, the successful implementation of PROC relies on continuing social interactions and evaluation of change agents by change beneficiaries (Huy, Corley, and Kraatz, 2014). The authors stress the reciprocal relationship between TM perceptions and MM legitimacy evaluations, demonstrating how emotional responses might influence the use of PROCs by initiating and amplifying changes in legitimacy judgements.

Finally, the authors add to the legitimacy literature by highlighting the value of actor-focused legitimacy judgments and revealing some of their underlying assumptions. The writers stress the importance of visible behaviors and relationships between change agents and their immediate subordinates in determining legitimacy. The authors also emphasize the crucial relational component of these evaluations, since the legitimacy of change agents ultimately rests on their subordinates’ consent.

The work of Huy et al. (2014) is crucial for conceiving PROC and understanding organizational change management in general. By offering a dynamic model that details the reciprocal relationships between legitimacy judgments and emotional responses and the necessity for both TMs and direct subordinates to play an active role in the process, the authors illustrate the more complex, interactive, and pluralistic nature of organizational change. The research also clarifies actor-focused legitimacy evaluations, highlighting the importance of visible behaviors and relationships in establishing and sustaining legitimacy through time.


3.1 Recommendations for Practitioners

Several suggestions for change management practitioners may be made based on the results of this case study. First, while implementing change, change agents must take their direct reports’ reluctance and emotional responses into account. This was particularly true in this case since the success of the PROC campaign was strongly impacted by the MMs’ shifting opinion of the TMs’ legitimacy. Practitioners of change must make sure that change beneficiaries are informed and engaged. As the process progresses, strategies must be in place to track any resistance or emotional responses.

Additionally, change agents must be cautious while planning and creating incentives for change. As seen in this instance, the TMs’ use of incentives and rewards prevented a climate that was supportive of the dramatic organizational changes being made. As a result, when applying incentives, a more balanced strategy should be used, concentrating on both the goals and how such objectives are obtained.

Finally, change practitioners should make sure both internal and external stakeholders are made aware of the messages and goals of the change process. This was particularly crucial in this instance since the TMs tried to push for significant changes without adequately outlining why they would be good for the workers and the business. Change practitioners may ensure that targeted communications reach intended stakeholders and help to increase acceptance of the first proposed changes by establishing clear and consistent messaging from the beginning of the process.

3.2 The Implications of the Case Study for Change Practitioners

The Tekco case study might have a number of effects on change agents more generally. In order to build trust and the perception that their opinions are legitimate, it underlines the significance of change practitioners speaking with and communicating with their direct reports. To ensure that the interactions stay as balanced and reciprocal as possible, as shown by the fluctuating assessments of the TMs, such efforts should be made with an open mind and without any preconceived notions.

Second, in order to be successful, change agents should prioritize objectives while taking into account how particular incentives and rewards could interfere with creating a climate of trust and acceptance. To increase the likelihood of successful change implementation, change practitioners should make sure that goals are communicated and incentives are properly set up.

Last but not least, change practitioners should think about the long-term effects of their change projects and make sure that recommended changes are appropriately communicated to all significant stakeholders. The TMs failed to convincingly explain how their recommended adjustments would benefit the company and its workers in this circumstance. Change practitioners must persuasively express the goal and potential of their efforts in order to ensure that all stakeholders, internal and external, understand the value and significance of the proposed changes.


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