Blended Change Management: Concept and Empirical Investigation of Blending Patterns
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3. Empirical Investigation of Blending
3.1 Survey Design
To examine the “real world” patterns of tool blending,
the department of organizational behavior at Stuttgart
University conducted an online survey amongst German,
Swiss and Austrian change experts in first quarter of
2008. In addition to this, a weblog (http://www.change-
zweinull.de) was installed to enable a virtual sharing an d
exchange of knowledge. The arena of tool blending ex-
amined was the configuration of non-electronic and elec-
tronic tools. The tools were clustered into two groups:
face-to-face tools (workshops, multiplicators, top man-
agement commitment, employee magazines, seminars,
brochures/folders/flyers, bilateral talks) and electronic
tools (virtual communities/internet forums, intranet por-
tals, information videos, e-mail newsletter, web-based
trainings, podcasts/webcasts, individual weblogs, social
networking platforms, wikis, and corporate weblogs).
The web 2.0 tools investigated are individual weblogs,
corporate weblogs, wikis, social networking platforms
and podcasts/webcasts. This selection reflects the com-
mon web 2.0 tools [20–23].
The majority of respondents were contacted directly
via personalized e-mails. The respondents were asked to
forward the e-mail to other change managers among their
colleagues and clients. Furthermore, a link to the survey
was integrated in several electronic newsletters. The pro-
ject weblog also provided the possibility to take part in
the survey. With 305 respondents the return rate (as per-
centage of the number of mails sent) is 15.5%.
Almost half of the respondents are consultants, less
than a fourth of the respondents are academic staff and
faculty, and approximately one sixth of the respondents
are employed in manufacturing or service companies.
Change managers (people who have already managed
change projects) cover almost three fourths of the re-
spondents. Within this group, a majority of change man-
agers has managed between six and 50 projects and can
be regarded as well-experienced in change management.
Change managers who have managed more than 50 pro-
jects account for only 4.3%. A look at the change exper-
tise focusing the spectrum of change categories shows
that 45% of all change projects are restructuring projects,
followed by strategy shift projects with approximately
one third of all projects. 30% of the participating change
managers predominantly manage business process reen-
gineering and cultural change projects respectively. Ap-
proximately 20% of the change managers are regularly
involved in the management of IT implementation pro-
jects. The survey investigated mainly a) the incidence of
face-to-face and electronic change management tools in
change management and b) the existing patterns of
blending as well as their determinants.
Scope of tool blending: The surv ey supports the assump-
tion that the use of multiple change management tools is
standard. More than 70% of the respondents use at least
four tools in change management frequently or always.
Almost 9% use ten or more instruments at least fre-
quently. Only 35% of the respondents use two or more
electronic media frequently or always. When the answers
“frequently” and “sometimes” are aggregated, more than
70% of the respondents use at least two electronic tools
in change management.
Diversity of tool blending: From the data, three basic
types of blended toolboxes can be distinguished with
respect to the diversity of blending: Focused toolboxes
are used by change managers who concentrate on a par-
ticular “core cluster” of tools (here: face-to-face tools).
These managers are reluctant to blending and conse-
quently do not use any instrument from the other cluster.
In blended toolboxes a distinction between a primary
cluster and a secondary cluster is not feasible. The re-
spec tive change man agers do no t have a clear p reference
for one of the two groups but use tools from both groups
frequently. Change managers working with ad hoc tool-
boxes do not use any tool more frequently than “some-
times”. Apparently, there is no preference for one cluster
of tools among these change managers. Rather, these
change managers configure their toolboxes randomly.
Table 1 demonstrates the respective frequencies of tool-
boxes in the sample.
Differentiating the instru ments used with respect to the
cluster they belong to shows—not surprisingly—that
merely one respondent focuses so lely on electronic tools,
while 31% focus on face-to-face instruments in change
management. Blended toolboxes represent the biggest
portion in the sample (67%), whereas ad-hoc mixes ac-
count for only 2.7%.
The simple assignment of the respondents to one of
the two patterns specified by level of diversity (focused
and blended mixes) ignores the scope dimension of
blending. A valid measure of the hybridity of blending
(“blending index”) must encompass both diversity and
scope. The focused as well as the blended patterns are
more hybrid when they are based on a larger number of
change management tools. Hence, the scope dimension
was differentiated into “narrow”, “medium”, and “broad”
(see Table 2).
Using the blending index, the following types of pat-
terns can be distinguished according to their respective
degree of diversity: narrow focused (1), medium focused
(2), medium blended (3), and broad blended tool boxes (4) .
A look at the frequencies of the different patterns re-
veals a peculiar result: only 7% of the change managers
in the sample put a narrow focus on face-to-face instru-
ments, i.e. use three different tools frequently at the most.