Leadership and IT-Driven Organizational Change in the Sri Lankan Context
1Journal “Value Addition, Vol ,1, 2010” (ISSN: 0000 - 0000) Title PageResearch Title:Leadership and IT-Driven Organizational Change in the Sri Lankan ContextT Suraweera, E P E Rodrigo, H M G L Samarathunga, K D S S Wimalarathna, G D NJayasekara and K M M S SomarathneSri Lanka Institute of Information Technology, New Kandy Road, Malabe, Sri Lanka.
2 Leadership and IT-Driven Organizational Change in the Sri Lankan Context T Suraweera, E P E Rodrigo, H M G L Samarathunga, K D S S Wimalarathna, G D N Jayasekara, K M M S Somarathne. Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology, New Kandy Road, Malabe, Sri Lanka. ABASTRACTThis research investigates Information Technology (IT) driven organizational changes in SriLankan organizations by focusing on the leadership aspects. The main objective of this researchis to identify which leadership styles are effective in ensuring the success of change managementprocesses within IT project implementations. In order to achieve this, firstly the research conductsan in-depth investigation of the relationship between leadership and change managementpractices within organizations. Encapsulating the findings, a model is proposed to pinpoints theleadership style that should be adopted within the change management process of theorganization.The research involved qualitative methods. Models by Goalman (2000), Kotter (1996), andCooper and Zmud (1990) were consulted to build an initial framework surrounding leadership andchange management practices. Using the Case Study method, in-depth interviews and documentreviews were conducted for six leading Sri Lankan organizations which had undergone ITchange. Analysis of results revealed that organizations are increasingly realizing the value ofemploying change management practices when introducing IT change to their organizations. Theattention of leaders was found to be more focused on the culture, behaviours and attitudes ofemployees who are part of the change process than on the steps within the change process itselfwhich are prescribed by change gurus. Eliminating people resistance has been treated with thehighest priority based on the argument that effectiveness of change management processes isdirectly linked to winning over the people resource. Leadership styles were found to be practicedmore from a public relations (PR) perspective to win the people over in the short term andthereby ensuring long term success.Key words: Leadership, Organizational Change, Information Technology, Change ManagementProcess, Leadership Styles, Sri Lankan Context, IT Driven Change INTRODUCTIONJohn P. Kotter, one of the change management gurus has said that the change is anunavoidable reality in the business world today. In such a turbulent environment if thechange is not handled properly it can drive them crazy, costs a great deal of money andwill cause a lot of pain. Modern business organizations are turbulent and face dramaticchanges such as strategic changes, technology changes, business process changes,
3mergers and acquisitions. Taking these aspects in to consideration IT driven change playsa critical role in organizations today. IT driven organizational change is considered to bethe current focus in many business organizations as they introduce or implement new ITsystems nowadays to gain the competitive advantage (Cameron and Green, 2004). If theorganization did not adapt to changes, the organizations could not compete. Managing ofchange is important in order to embrace the change and reap its benefits. Leadershipplays a vital role in managing change by involving and supporting throughout the processto make the change a success. Many studies have highlighted the importance ofleadership in change management. According to Kotter (1996), leadership is very muchrelated to change and as the velocity of change increases, there is a greater need foreffective leadership.There are a number of studies on importance of leadership and change management(Kotter, 1996; Cameron and Green, 2004; Patson and McCalman, 2000; Beerel, 2009).However leadership styles that should be adopted for managing an effective IT changeprocess has received lesser attention. Research focus draws the attention towards theleadership styles to be adopted during change management process when organizationsgo through IT driven organizational changes.No past research has been reported on leadership and change management in Sri Lanka.It has been identified that for most organizations in Sri Lanka change management is anew practice. Therefore, this study makes a valuable contribution to the field ofleadership and change management as this research carries a comprehensive study to fillthe knowledge gap in that area.This paper presents the finding of the first phase of the research. It comprises of fivesections followed by the introduction. In the next section literature review is presentedand the results are given in section four. Paper ends with the discussion of research studyand suggestions for further research.
4 LITERATURE REVIEWAs a background to the study this section briefs on the leadership and leadership styles,IT implementation process and change management processes and IT driven changemanagement. The relevance of leadership and management of IT driven organizationalchange is examined here.Information Technology plays a significant role in organizations‟ business processestoday. IT has triggered many changes forcing organizations to embrace changes whichhappen due to IT implementations. Many researchers have introduced different ITimplementation process models (Rogers, 1983 ; Kwon and Zmud, 1987; Gerwin 1988).Basically all models are based on three main processes namely: initiation,implementation and naturalization. These researchers have identified that implementationof IT changes should be well planed and should be carry out systematically in order togain the real benefits of change. Failing to manage the change effectively will end up inpoor implementations (Patson and McCalman, 2000).Researchers argue that proper framework should be adopted to carry out the ITimplementation as well as to manage the IT driven change simultaneously. Pastresearchers have developed a number of models to explore as change managementprocesses. Three step change model (Lewin, 1951), eight steps model (Kotter, 1995) andADKAR model (Prosci, 1996) can be cited as examples. All these models address thechange management in general, and still no comprehensive model has been developed todepict IT driven change management process. Kotter‟s (1996) eight steps model targetslarge scale organizational change and gives a comprehensive elaboration about thechange management process and as it directly establishes a relationship with the
5leadership and organizational change process, which is the underlying concept of thisstudy. Hence, Kotter‟s change model is used as the base of study in the research.Number of researchers have highlighted that leaders should manage the change in orderto achieve effective organizational change (Kotter,1996 ; Lewin, 1951; Jicks,1991). Inthe context of change management Kotter (2002) defines leadership as: What the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles (Kotter, 1996:25.)This research focuses on leadership styles. Studies have highlighted that leadership stylesplay a vital role in organizational change. Goleman (2000) have mentioned thatorganizational climate is influenced by leadership style. Number of leadership styles areexperimented, researched and have found by the contributors such as Lewin (1939);Likert (1967) and Goleman (2000). These contributors argue that leaders do not rely onjust one leadership but it can change according to the scenario (Goleman, 2000).ConceptualizationA high level conceptual view of relationship between leadership and IT driven change isshown in Fig.1.As shown in Fig.1 the change management process need to be practised inside the ITimplementation process. The effectiveness of this practice is directly affected byleadership styles. To examine this framework, models as shown in Table 1 are used.In summary, the following inferences have been made from the literature review: Leadership is critical for an effective change management. From leadership aspect, leadership styles will have a higher influence on the effectiveness of the change management.
6 Steps follows in change management process will become critical success factors for the IT change process. Organizations must give all the three aspects (IT implementation, Change management and leadership styles) their focus when IT driven change is taking place. The final framework for the research can be built as in Fig.1. Organizations must follow change management process within their IT change process. (As shown in Fig1 ) For the real world case scenario analysis purpose three models namely, Kotter (1996) eight step model, Cooper and Zmud (1900) IT Diffusion model and Goleman (2000) Six leadership Styles model can be adopted to the research framework. METHODOLOGYThis study focuses on real-life scenarios and explores “How” and “Why” questions.Hence, we adopted the case study approach. Case study approach is a method used tonarrow down a very broad field of research into one easily researchable topic. Accordingto Shuttleworth (2008), case study method attempts to test a theory with a typical case ora specific topic. Thereby using the case studies we will be able to develop and practicallytest the research findings from literature as well as see the practical aspects of thescenario.In this study, the framework which was synthesised from the literature survey is used todevelop interview protocols and for the case analysis. Semi-structured interviews in sixorganizations were conducted which has undergone IT changes. Case study data wascollected by our research authors using interviews of approximately one hour duration
7and based on the same interview protocol. Top IT executives in leading Sri Lankanorganizations were interviewed including who have contributed in large ITimplementations. Table 1 presents profiles of the cases which have been studied in thisresearch. RESULTSTable 2 presents the summery of the findings. From the case study investigation it isevident that most organizations do not use a formal approach towards changemanagement. However they have adopted certain processes associated with changemanagement, without a conscious application of them.The complex IT changes in most organizations were associated with implementingEnterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. When the IT change had been triggered byERP system it has lead them to realise the importance of managing the change.According to a top IT executive many organizations in Sri Lanka are not aware of changemanagement. Unfortunately I doubt that they know not John P. Kotter but the area he contributed (Case C).Most IT changes the case study organizations went through were successful according totheir own judgement. However it was evident from the investigation that most of theprojects have taken longer time than they planned for. Certain organizations suffer fromthe problem of not utilizing their system fully. However without practicing a formalchange management approach, these organizations managed to be successful in therechange may be merely due to a proper leadership. Generally these organizations highly
8focussed on Step 4, 7 and 8. These steps require complete support from the leader.Therefore leadership involvement and the support to the change can be considered ashigh.According to six cases generally they followed Affiliative style, Authoritative style andDemocratic style out of all six leadership styles during the change. These leadershipstyles were identified from the characteristics (Goleman 2000) they possessed. Choosingthe leadership style was situation oriented. In general during the initiation of change theypractised Authoritative then Democratic and in the latter part of change the focus wastowards Affiliative style.In exceptional cases organizations had used Coercive Style apart from those styles.According to an IT executive during the ERP implementation their motto was: SAP able or Sack able (Case B).Facing an ERP implementation was the common situation to those organizations whichused Coercive. This situation caused them go through dramatic changes for the first timeand face higher people resistance. According to the IT executives‟ perceptions, lack of aproper organizational culture was the cause for people resistance. Therefore the situationhave forced these organizations adopt Coercive style but they shifted to Affiliative styleones people got adapted to the change. According to the Case F and Case E they followpeople oriented leadership style: We do not insist people to do it instead we ask shall we do it (Case F). I think people are more part of the organization than earlier (Case E.)Therefore from the case study analysis it is evident that leadership style strongly effectedon orgnization to be successful in change. Without any formal approch to changemanagemnet case organizations leadership was the force to drive the change. Thereforeduring the change process they followed people oriented leadership styles such as
9Authoritaive, Democratic ,Affiliative styles. Use of this people oriented leadershipapproach made them successful in thier change. DISCUSSIONThis research revealed another dimention of change mangement other than changemanagemnet process and leadership. Cases revealed „people resistance‟ is anotherdimention that should be foucsed during change management. People resist. It is not a very simple thing. The change is very tuff for people (Case A).Dramtetic change lead them to face remarkable situations of people resistance. In somecases problem of people resistance lead them to adopt rigid methods to avoid it whichlead to unsatisfaction of emplyees. However in these situations change have beenaccepeted by emplyees for the fear of losing thier jobs.Not having a proper people focussed change management approach and lack of a changesupprotive culture must have lead to people resistance. However these organizations haveused several methods to deal with people resistance. Proper communication of change ,higher support and invlovement from leadership, adopting people oriented leadershipstyles, use of feedback mechanism and proper trainning are some of methods used.In the effort of eliminating people resistance case organizations have focused onrecreating their culture. Having a change suppritive culture is considered to be the keyelement for avoiding people resistance.In summary, this research has focussed on leadership and change management aspect inan IT driven organizational change in the context of Sri Lanka. This research confirms
10that leadership plays a critical role in change management. It is evident that a properleadership can lead the change to a success and use of people oriented leadership stylescan avoid people resistance. Finally this research have identified Authoritative,Democratic and Affiliative leadership styles are the considered to be best leadership styleto be adopted during the change management process to making a change a success.However this study suggests that the organizations should follow a formal changemanagement process when dealing with IT –driven change and they should use peopleoriented leadership styles to make the change a success.The knowledge gap in the area of change management in the Sri Lankan context shouldbe filled as the proper awareness and knowledge on this area carries a higher value forthe business organizations. This research focussed on identifying the appropriateleadership styles and the process to be used in managing the change. Still there is aknowledge gap in the cultural aspect of change management area. Thereforeinvestigating on the proper culture which is supportive to change could be another areafor future research. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTThe authors wish to thank the case study organizations and the IT executives who kindlyprovided information to carry out this research. Due to the confidential nature thesedetails are not disclosed. The support of Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology,Malabe is sincerely acknowledged. REFERENCESBeerel, A. (2009). Leadership and Change Managemnet. London: SAGA Publications Ltd.Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2004). Making Sense of Change Management: A complete guide tothe Models, Tools and Techniques of organizational change. London: Kogan Page Limited.
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