Managing change across boundaries: boundary-shaking practices

Balogun, Julia; Gleadle, Pauline; Hope Hailey, Veronica and Willmott, Hugh (2005). Managing change across boundaries: boundary-shaking practices. British Journal of Management, 16(4) pp. 261–278.



To date, boundary spanning has primarily been conceived of as an activity relating an organization to its environment, including other organizations with which it cooperates and competes. In contrast, this study focuses on the boundary spanning practices of individuals acting as change agents to implement boundary-shaking change initiatives across intra-organizational boundaries. These boundary-shaking individuals all work for blue-chip organizations in sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, consultancy and automotive. The change initiatives are equally diverse, including post-merger integration, exploitation of across-business synergies and implementing more integrative structures. Through our examination of boundary-shakers we are able to extend what we know about internal change agency and change agent skills and practices. Our starting point is that organizations are comprised of networks of people with a degree of common interest. Our research shows our research subjects to be active movers and shakers in these networks, using their knowledge of the organizational political context and the motivations of others to create new networks (or new meanings within old networks), which then enables them to pursue their change objectives.

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