In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Interface between Organizational Change and Organizational Change Communication

  • Introduction
  • Texts
  • Book Series
  • Journals
  • Review Articles
  • Organizational Communication as an Orienting Concept
  • Reflecting on Tactics for Communicating Effectively during Organizational Change

Communication The Interface between Organizational Change and Organizational Change Communication
Colleen Mills
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0195


Organizational change is probably the most referenced topic in the organizational studies and management literatures. Within these intersecting literatures the absence of voices arguing that organizational stability or continuity are possible or even desirable suggests a pervasive acceptance of the inevitability of organizational change. Organizational stability is typically treated as unrealistic, unattainable and a sign of stagnation, fostering the view that change can and must be managed. Organizational communication is typically cast as the means to achieve this change management. This chapter is located at the intersection between the vast literatures of organizational change and organizational change communication. Its aim is to alert readers to literature that will help them understand the relationship between these two literatures. It provides a list of useful background resources, then briefly addresses the nature of organizational change before focusing on organizational change communication, and significant changes that have occurred across organizational studies that are increasingly reconfiguring how organizational communication, including organizational change communication, is theorized and studied. It finishes with some common themes in the organizational change communication literature and a section containing resources that look critically at tactics for communicating change effectively. This bibliography is underpinned by the view that organizational communication is not simply something that happens in the context of change but rather is intimately coupled to change. Organizational communication is the context, means, and consequence of organizational change. By helping readers appreciate this relationship, this bibliography should be treated as one narrative through a complicated and extensive transdisciplinary literature that addresses organizational change and communication, not as a comprehensive road map. The texts, book series, journals, and review articles in the first four sections reflect the interdisciplinary nature of organizational change and change communication scholarship. Texts contains broadly focused organizational change texts as well as texts specifically addressing organizational change communication. The second section describes some important Book Series that address organizational change. The Journals listed in the third section address the broad gamut of organizational studies and management topics as well as publications specializing in organizational change management and communication scholarship. The same multidisciplinary foci applies in the selection of Review Articles in the fourth section.


Poole and Van de Ven 2004 is a popular text on organizational change and innovation. Smith and Graetz 2011 introduces philosophies that shape how change is approached while Boje, et al. 2012 examines influences shaping how we think about change. Dawson and Sykes 2016 insightfully examines temporality and change. Meyers, et al. 2012 and Oreg, et al. 2013 are more practically oriented change texts. Lewis 2011 is distinguished by its communication approach to change while Jabri 2016 applies a distinctive relational dialogue approach. Kotter 2012 is a refreshed version of Kotter’s earlier seminal text.

  • Boje, David M., Bernard Burnes, and John Hassard, eds. 2012. The Routledge companion to organizational change. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

    This text reveals the multidimensional nature of organizational change scholarship. The authors use Kurt Lewin’s work to set the scene and provide a framework for integrating subsequent sections that address approaches to organizational change. It then examines issues and new directions in organizational change scholarship. Communication is not a dominant theme but narrativity, discourse, and domination are addressed as well as social materiality, a very contemporary theme in the organizational communication literature.

  • Dawson, Patrick, and Christopher Sykes. 2016. Organizational change and temporality: Bending the arrow of time. New York: Routledge.

    This book addresses two important gaps in the literature on organizational change; how explanations of change take into account the concepts of time and temporality and how time has become institutionalized, objectified, and taken for granted.

  • Hughes, Mark. 2016. The leadership of organizational change. New York: Routledge.

    This text examines the way change is approached from a leadership perspective, acknowledging the prominence of the view that organizational change is the problem and leadership is the solution. It has particularly useful reviews.

  • Jabri, Muayyad. 2016. Rethinking organizational change: The role of dialogue, dialectic and polyphony in the organization. New York: Routledge.

    This, the fourteenth volume in Routledge’s Studies in Organizational Change and Development series, provides an excellent bridge between organizational change and organizational communication. It contributes a relational dialogue approach to the study of organizational change in its rendition of Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of polyphony.

  • Kotter, John P. 2012. Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

    This refreshed version of Kotter’s widely acclaimed 1996 text has a new preface by the author. This highly influential text is a “must read” for those wanting to see the origin of many of the persistent themes in the literature on how to manage organizational change. In particular, it presents Kotter’s eight-step model of organizational change. It should be read in conjunction with Hughes 2016 (cited under Reflecting on Tactics for Communicating Effectively during Organizational Change).

  • Lewis, Laurie K. 2011. Organizational change: Creating change through strategic communication. Malden, MA: Wiley.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444340372

    This text is a very readable and comprehensive text on organizational change that specifically addresses the topic from a communication perspective. This distinguishes it from most other change management texts where change communication is typically addressed in just one section or perhaps given a single chapter (For an example of this more typical organizational change text, see Meyers, et al. 2012). Lewis’s text is a great companion text to Poole and Van de Ven 2004.

  • Meyers, Piers, Sally Hulks, and Liz Wiggins. 2012. Organizational change: Perspectives on theory and practice. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This comprehensive and helpful organizational change text alerts the reader to perspectives that can be taken when studying change (i.e., organizational culture, power and politics, and organizational learning) before addressing how change can be delivered. Organizational communication (chapter 12), however, is addressed as the means for delivering organizational change and not as inextricably coupled to organizing.

  • Oreg, Shaul, Alexandra Michel, and Rune T. By, eds. 2013. The psychology of organizational change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    This organizational psychology text explores employees’ reactions to change. It contrasts with other texts in this section by virtue of its strongly positivist orientation and the way communication is portrayed. It has one section containing two chapters dedicated to exploring the role of communication during change. These explore the relationship between individual traits and quality change communication and the nature and reasons why rumors spread during organizational change.

  • Poole, Marshall Scott, and Andrew H. Van de Ven, eds. 2004. Handbook of organizational change and innovation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This widely referenced collection provides a broad, multi-level, and integrated introduction to organizational change, moving from the individual through groups to the organization as a whole, its culture and institutional logics, and the communities and nation-states in which the organization is are embedded and how these influence organizational change. It presents many of the most popular theories of change and innovation and provides a great introduction to a wide range of theories that influence or take center stage in the work of scholars who study organizational change.

  • Smith, Aaron C. T., and Fiona M. Graetz. 2011. Philosophies of organizational change. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

    DOI: 10.4337/9780857932891

    This book provides a useful introduction to philosophies that underpin how organizational change is approached and helps the reader focus on what it is that change agents believe is changing when organizational change is planned and enacted. Nine philosophies are traversed: the rational, biological, institutional, resource, psychological, cultural and critical philosophies. The authors propose that in practice leaders tap into a range of these philosophies, often simultaneously, to inform their planning and practices.

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