Power in the ‘organisation’: a soft systems perspective

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All systems must adapt in order to survive, this is as true for a business organisation as any other system. A business exists in a turbulent environment and in order to maintain its relationship with its environment its managers have to adapt it to the circumstances. The effect of the present pandemic is an example with some staff working from home, active blended learning in the education sector and social distancing have all created an urgency to accommodate the unprecedented consequence of the situation. To effect the necessary changes that these circumstances have generated means exercising some form of power to change operating procedures. Change creates uncertainty, the threat of the reallocation of resources, delegated power, redundancies and a change in group relationships. This produces a feeling of insecurity in those within the organisation often resulting in resistance to the proposals in an attempt to maintain the status quo. They are faced with adapting or resisting to these changes. Whilst systems models of organisational behavior provide ideas about organizing and managing an enterprise these are of limited value because of the unpredictability of change. The ubiquity of communication technologies and the rise of virtual methods of working add to the pressure for change creating a climate of anxiety. Organisational power can no longer be framed by the measures once taken for granted. To this end I adopt a soft systems perspective to explore the impact of change upon an organisation and how those within react as they attempt to cope with its impact.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
Early online date19 Sept 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 19 Sept 2020


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