Resourcing Change: A Grounded Theory Explaining the Process by Which Managers Address Challenges in Their Initiation of Change as Learning at Work

  • Foster Fei

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This grounded theory study conceptualises an abstract social process of ‘resourcing change’, explaining challenges managers face during the initiation of change as their learning in organisations and their responses to them. Both management challenges and their resolutions are theoretically organised on the global-local continuum, reflecting the inter-connected and mutually influencing nature of the social reality. The abstract social process of ‘resourcing change’ has general implications beyond the temporal and spatial boundaries of the study – managers in one UK subsidiary within each of two multinational corporations – Cooper Standard (UK) and Ricoh (UK), respectively, at the time when this study was conducted. The grounded theory of ‘resourcing change’ has made several significant theoretical and methodological contributions. First, the study of learning has been extended to the management population, given their strategic importance in organisations (Easterby-Smith et al., 1998). Second, management learning in organisations is conceptualised as ‘initiation of change’ – a seldom recognised, individual-to-organisation process of change (Quinn, 1996). Learning, as in this study, has been re-connected to accounts of organisational change (Hendry, 1996). A particular emphasis is placed on the initiation stage of change, not on any other stages (e.g. implementation). Third, from a process-relational perspective of organising and managing (Watson, 2002), this grounded theory study of ‘resourcing change’ has identified the contradictions in many processual-oriented research studies, highlighting the absence of the temporal and spatial dimensions in the on-going evolution of social processes. The methodological contributions that this grounded theory study makes are, first and foremost, the conceptualisation of the emerged concepts that are used to explain the process of initiating change in management learning. Research problems and questions are then formulated by abstractly conceptualising the concerns and resolutions of research participants, as opposed to the researcher’s own. This study begins with no focus, however uncomfortable that may make some researchers, recognising the key fact that the focus of the researcher, prior to his or her exposure to the research participants, has no relevance whatsoever to them. The focus is only established at the end of the study, following a set of rigorous and transparent methodological procedures. The adherence to the orthodox grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) confirms that grounded theory is a fully-fledged research methodology in its own right, not a set of methods for data analysis (McCallin, 2003).
Date of Award1 Dec 2007
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPhilip Powell (Supervisor)

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