A human factors view of organisational change

  • Holger Heinrich Kunzmann

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Insights from Human Factors and Ergonomics and Safety Science suggest that
both success and failure must be studied to understand how to ensure safety.
Applying this to change management, an explorative study is presented in which
twelve experienced change managers from different German industries and
organizations are interviewed about their experience with both of these outcomes.
The structure of the interviews is based on the four cornerstones of Resilience
Engineering (monitoring, responding, anticipating and learning). In addition,
organisational and individual perspectives are considered separately to better
reflect the complexity of organisational systems.
The results showed that managers are an important interface between
organisations and those affected by change, and relevant competencies were
identified, such as a holistic and systemic perspective, designing structures and
processes, and perceiving people-issues that are of relevance for managing
However, changing structures and processes requires organisational support and design authority, which are often not sufficiently available. Furthermore, an overreliance on existing managerial competencies and a lack of sustainable
organisational learning from negative aspects of successful outcomes in particular were found.
These findings underline that Resilience Engineering and Human Factors and
Ergonomics concepts (holistic/system understanding, design orientation,
combined outcome of performance and human well-being) have great potential for making organisations more adaptive and pro-active, and therefore to increase the success rate of change projects.
Date of AwardSept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJames McCalman (Supervisor)

Cite this