Three Contingency Approaches to Change Management

In the context of organizational change management, the contingency approach refers to a set of theories that are based on the assumption that there is no universal solution to any given organizational problem. Since staff, vision, mission, company goals, culture, and policies differ, the methods of managing change will differ as well. While there are many contingency approaches to change management, it is necessary to name several of them. In general, the contingency approaches depend on the leadership styles that prevail in a company. To fulfill the fundamental ideas of the approach, applicable leadership styles should be characterized by flexibility, agility, and situational decision-making.

Firstly, the situational leadership theory holds that for effective and adequate management of a change in an organization, leadership should be focused on the achievement of the best results depending on the situation. In particular, a leader might rely on the maturity of a team of employees by delegating responsibilities if necessary. On the other hand, if a situation requires, a leader might take a participatory strategy and become involved in the processes that are beyond leaders’ responsibilities. This approach allows for the search for feasible and effective solutions.

Secondly, the decision-making theory asserts that in a situation of change, a leader should analyze the circumstances and make a decision as to what leadership style to choose when dealing with change. This approach might be less effective since it is very subjective and might not yield perfect change management outcomes.

Finally, the goal-setting contingency approach holds that a leader should set goals for employees and ensure that they have access to the required resources to fulfill those goals. In such a manner, the leader does not directly participate in the execution of the plan but provides support to his or her employees, who perform as the drivers of change. To illustrate a case, one might refer to an organizational change at Starbucks when opening new stores overseas. The leaders delegate managing responsibilities to local managers in order to ensure the adequacy of made decisions within the context of a given country.

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