Processes of culture change in organisations : the contribution of an external facilitator
van Rhyn, Louise
This thesis explores processes of organisational and culture change as experienced by an external consultant/facilitator. Through a reflexive inquiry into my own experience of how change happens, I have come to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about organisations as 'systems' where change is 'driven' by leadership or project teams. I am suggesting that 'organisations' are people in conversation and that change happens because individuals participate actively in organisational conversations and act courageously into unknown and risky situations. The mainstream systemic perspective on 'organisational culture' is that it is a 'thing' with causal 'power'. I am arguing against this and present a process perspective of organisational culture, where culture is understood as the continuously changing configuration of interweaving themes organising the experience of people who participate in the social processes of being an organisation. Culture change is then changes in organising themes. Change occurs through the actions of individuals with each action having the potential to shift or maintain organising themes. I carefully explored the difference in the kinds of constraints experienced by internalpermanent and external-temporary members of organisations and came to the conclusion that the 'internal' Vexternal' distinction is a false dichotomy. Externals (like internals) are constrained through their interdependence - they are not free to do whatever they want. This leads to a re-consideration of the 'contribution' of an external. I am arguing that externals and internals make a contribution to processes of organisational and cultural change when they participate actively in political processes of inclusion/exclusion. I conclude by suggesting that it might be possible to facilitate cultural and organisational change through processes of persuasion and offer a process perspective on persuasion through sensemaking (as opposed to mainstream perspectives on persuasion that is based on a sender-receiver model of communication). This thesis is the 'result' of a personal journey of change in practice and identity which leads me to argue that change happens through planned, formal, legitimate 'events' as well as through informal everyday activities (doing, thinking and talking). I am arguing that it is important for practitioners to pay attention to their participation in the organisational processes of 'going on together'.