Capabilities for Change: Trust and Involvement in Organization Development

University dissertation from ; Chalmers tekniska högskola; Gothenburg

Abstract: The more capable an organization is in changing, the better the result. However, up to 75% of change initiatives still fail. Previous research suggests that trust is a key factor for success, both with regards to trust in managers and in the change itself. One way of creating trust is through employee involvement, which also supports innovation and creation of change since it allows organizations to access the collective knowledge and enable co-creation. How trust and employee involvement are related to capabilities for change is still an under-researched issue that calls for more development of both theoretical and practical knowledge.   This thesis is focused on change with high degrees of employee involvement and explores capabilities for change and the role of trust in change efforts. The basis for discussion is the three appended papers: (1) “Strategy workshops - trust as an enabler”, (2) “Change in Tightly Coupled Systems: Middle Manager Role and Action” and (3) “Locally driven change in a tightly coupled system: challenges and enablers”.    The thesis departs in the view of capabilities as operational or dynamic – the first supporting current business and the latter supporting change. This licentiate thesis questions this distinction of opposites. Instead, I propose that change capabilities should be viewed on a scale spanning both operational and dynamic. From this perspective organizations need to consider their internal and external context in order to target and develop the change capabilities that supports them. A differentiating factor found in the studied organizations was their ability to create trust. In this thesis I suggest that trust acts as a facilitator and can enhance the quality of change work. I propose that the ability to create trust should be treated as a capability for change. Implications for the thesis include a suggestion for organizations to consciously develop the capability to create trust, as well as suggestions for how further research can approach different aspects of change capabilities.