Types of Organizational Change in Dalton Township

Incremental, strategic and transformational change are all typologies of change in the public sector. Critically compare and contrast these typologies of change supporting your work with suitable illustrations.

Types of organizational change can be classified in different ways. In this article we will look at seven different classification types. In support of these theoretical classifications practical and demonstrative examples will be given with reference to Dalton Township, a local municipality located in Michigan, USA.

Each of these seven typologies are more similar than different in that each deals with the same subject matter, change. "Organizational change is the adoption of new behavior by people in organizations, where behavior means the new learning required to perform differently and adjust to a change in the environment." (Pullen, 1993) The seven types of change we are looking at are: smooth incremental change, bumpy incremental change, strategic change, transformational change, discontinuous change, modular framebreaking change, and corporate framebreaking change.

Smooth incremental change is change that "evolves slowly in a systematic and predictable way." (Senior, Swailes, Carnall, 2020, pg 34) Introducing transparency into the Dalton Township political organization is a great example. During my campaign I promoted transparency, so there was an expectation of it. From the start I had the meetings recorded, but an official Youtube channel was created only after resolution 2021-08 was passed in February of 2021, three months after I took office. (Dalton Township, 2021a) At first only the Board of Trustee meetings were recorded and posted. Later the Planning Commission meetings began to be recorded and posted. Finally, the Zoning Board of Appeals meetings were added as well. This is a natural and systematic progression.

Board packets also went through an evolution. At first I had the agenda, past minutes, bills, and accounts printed as usual. Then I started putting this information into resident packets that I made available online. Then I moved to making the full board packets available publicly. Now I make both the full board packets and additional reference packets fully available online for each board meeting.

Bumpy incremental change is less consistent in the rate of change. (Senior, Swailes, Carnall, 2020, pg 34) For instance, there's been quite a lot of discussion in board meetings about the township parks over the last two years, including Catalpa Park on Goose Egg Lake. In 2021 there were some in-ground tanks removed. But, funds weren't allocated nor action taken again until resolution 2022-17 was passed. (Dalton Township, 2022a) Before this time there was discussion but no actual change in the state of the park, now the old metal equipment and cement footings have been removed, an area has been dug out and laid with sand, and three pieces of new playground equipment are complete and ready to be installed. After that, the rate of change will once again return to nill.

Strategic changes are more than incremental, and made in adjustment to threats or opportunities. (Cambridge Dictionary, 2022a) Dalton Township has made such a perspective change and become more business friendly since the 2020 election. Restrictions on signage have been eased, as have restrictions on trucking. A liberal mobile food vendor ordinance has been created. Multiple adjustments were made to remove government created barriers to business in Business Park North, resulting in Muskegon County selling the land that it had held for two decades.

Transformational change is big and more complete (Cambridge Dictionary, 2022b), changing the processes, operations, and outcomes of the system at multiple levels. (Ferlie et al, 1996) In the November 2020 election six of the seven elected township officials were changed, all that were challenged in the election. This was a major shift from previous party tendencies in the municipality. (Jeffrey Alexander Martin, 2020) This then resulted in systemic change over the following years, some of which is indicated in this paper.

Discontinuous change is a rapid shift. This can be in different areas, such as strategy, structure, and culture. (Senior, Swailes, Carnall, 2020, pg 34) This is noticeable in Dalton Township in personnel turnover, especially in key positions. For instance, since taking office in November of 2022, I am on my third treasurer. I am also on my second clerk. These are both elected positions and key to operations thus changing both the culture of the organization and voting on the board.

Modular framebreaking change is a large change within one aspect or module of the organization. (Dunphy and Stace, 1993) In Dalton it was a significant change to take the approach of revealing problems rather than shying away from them. For instance, there was a sewer project along Whitehall Road in 2006. This project was a financial failure with two court of appeals cases, the largest potential customer not connecting for ten years, and two other important businesses going out of business because of the charges. One of these properties, a trailer park, went back to the township on taxes with liabilities. Rather than ignore this problem I tackled it by bringing up and explaining the problem in public, selling the former trailer park site and more land that was owned by the township to generate additional revenue from which half of a million dollars was slated toward the sewer debt, having a financial analysis done, and raising the rates for the first time in over a decade. All of this puts the fund in good financial shape for the first time since 2006.

Corporate framebreaking change effects the larger organization more directly. (Dunphy and Stace, 1993) I instituted one-on-one meetings with the staff, and general staff meetings, and executive committee meetings, and small group meetings, all to increase communication and move the organization into greater alignment at multiple levels. In addition I started making videos to address rumors directly so that there is a shared reference for people to discuss, and added in videos going over positive changes as well. 

The analysis in this paper demonstrates that the seven types of change covered are different, and yet can be complementary and implemented within the same organization over the same time period. Each can have different timing and place because there is a different role to fulfill in the ongoing evolution of the organization. For this reason it's important to think strategically about the type of change being pursued.

Reference List:

Cambridge Dictionary (2022a) "stategic change" accessed on 26 September 2022 at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/strategic-change

Cambridge Dictionary (2022b) "transformational change" accessed on 26 September 2022 at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/transformational-change

Dalton Township (2021a) Resolution No. 2021-08 Resolution to Support the Recording and Posting of Dalton Township Board of Trustees Meetings. Accessed on 26 September 2022 at: https://library.municode.com/MI/dalton_township,_(muskegon_co.)/munidocs/munidocs?nodeId=4e51f377dd37e

Dalton Township (2022a) Resolution No. 2022-17 Resolution for ARPA Fund Expenditures. Accessed on 26 September 2022 at: https://library.municode.com/MI/dalton_township,_(muskegon_co.)/munidocs/munidocs?nodeId=4e51f0635972e

Dunphy D & D Stace (1993) ‘The strategic management of corporate change’. Human Relations, 45 (8), 905–20.

Ferlie E, L Ashburner, L Fitzgerald, A Pettigrew, et al (1996) The New Public Management in Action. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press.

Jeffrey Alexander Martin (2020) Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 16 of ?. Accessed on 26 September 2022 at: http://www.jeffreyalexandermartin.com/2020/02/fighting-local-government-corruption_25.html

Jeffrey Alexander Martin (2021) Political Column - The Struggle of Politics. Accessed on 26 September 2022 at: http://www.jeffreyalexandermartin.com/2021/12/political-column-struggle-of-politics.html

Joyce P (1999) Strategic Management for the Public Services. Buckingham UK: Open University Press.

Pullen W (1993) ‘Strategic shocks: managing discontinuous change’. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 6 (1), 30–39.

Senior B, S Swailes & C Carnall (2020) Organizational Change. 6th Edition. Harlow UK: Pearson Education.

Wilson D (1992) A Strategy of Change. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.



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