Who decides to initiate change processes in organizations? Who sets the goals? What does it mean for employees to participate in change processes? The book examines organizational change processes based on collaboration between employers, employees and action researchers in Europe and the U.S. in the later part of the 20th century. The authors offer important insights into participation and change in organizations for researchers and practitioners by identifying dilemmas and paradoxes, conflicting interests and exercising of power.
Change processes are launched in organizations every day. Which goals should be pursued? How can change be designed and evaluated? Do employees and their closest managers participate in deciding whether a change process is to be initiated? This has been discussed since the middle of the 20th century within organizational action research. It is an integrated change- and research process which employees, managers, researchers, and various stakeholders contribute to with varying knowledge and interests. The book deals with different ways of understanding participation in organizational action research, especially self-managing groups, democratic dialogues, and co-generation. Projects from the USA, England, Norway, Sweden, and Spain from 1940 to 2000, as well as a Danish project from 2010 are analyzed. The book shows that participation is characterized by tensions and exercise of power throughout history. Moreover, it investigates if employees and managers were involved as respondents, practitioners, or co-researchers. Based on these analyses and the authors’ experience as action researchers, the book summarizes relevant points of attention. These can be of help for future action researchers, change agents, consultants, and professionals dealing with dilemmas and challenges in citizen-, patient-, parent-, or employee-participation in change processes.