Angela van der Heijden, Jacqueline M. Cramer, Peter P. J. Driessen, (2012),”Change agent sensemaking for sustainability in a multinational subsidiary”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25 Iss: 4 pp. 535 – 559 Van der Heijden et al (2012) “Purpose – This paper seeks to improve the understanding of implementation processes that achieve corporate sustainability by providing explanatory knowledge about the role of change agents from a sensemaking perspective.
The paper also aims to focus on the sustainability efforts of change agents in a multinational carpet tile manufacturer. ” (pg 535). The journal is clearly directed at academics who are interested in change management as it is printed in a academic journal and requires prior knowledge of the subject to interpret the purpose. The article is centred on one specific organisation in the private manufacturing industry, a Dutch subsidiary of an American carpet tile manufacturer aiming for sustainability with no negative impact on the environment by 2020.
The concepts derived from the journal build on Low, M (2012) Lecture notes using the Falconer theory (2002) that “change is unpredictable” (pg7). These aspects of change, or otherwise known as emergent change, are based on communication, action and building organisational relationships . Van der Heijden et al (2012) states that ”Although studies based on a planned change approach offer valuable insights, they largely ignore the ad hoc, unpredictable aspects of organisational change” (pg 535).
The authors develop their framework from their own previously gathered data from 2010 in which they highlighted that change agents play a vital role in sustainability sensemaking. 6) Methodology The methodology is based upon empirical research as the study was conducted through observation; it was derived by collecting a series of qualitative data over a ten year period including Interviews, document reviews, feedback seminars and individual and team meetings. ) Key findings After the initial positive start in the organisation to meet the sustainability strategy, this faltered after a few years. The centrally produced jargon from the American head office did not have the longevity as the culture of the Dutch subsidiary felt they could not present their ideas or influence the strategy, highlighting that different cultures may require different methods in the implementation of sustainability.
The constant realignment and adjustment of the goals frustrated employees and continuous sense making by the change agents was required as the emergent changes were unpredictable meaning they needed decoding before the strategy could be shared with the employees. The project did improve when the change agents could understand their role and influence it to reach the sustainability target reinforcing the theory that emergent change is unpredictable and that change agents do play a vital role in sustainability sensemaking. The results also noted that incentives influenced the change agents in a positive and negative way.