Management Theory

Effective Management Theories for and Implementing Organizational Change

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The large number of management theories that currently exist in practical use and in the academic literature is a testament to the increasing diversity of management needs and recognized potentials for different strategies and perspectives during the increasingly volatile world of business. Not al theories are as applicable in all situations, and while some may hold up better overall no management theory is truly comprehensive to the exclusion of all others. Depending on the specific goals, both immediate and long-term, of a given organization, as well as the current situation within that organization, different management theories and perspectives can be of greater or lesser use and appropriateness.

Two specific purposes for which several specific managerial strategies and frameworks have been developed, and to which many general theories can also be applied, are the deployment of quality improvement strategies and the implementation of organizational change. These actions often occur jointly, though it is also of course fully possible to undertake only one at a time. For the purposes of exploring effective management strategies in these actions, it is perhaps best to consider them separately at first. In this paper, an exploration of several management theories as they relate to quality improvement deployment and organizational change implementation will be conducted, leading to advisements regarding preferred theories of management for such effectively engaging in such actions separately and jointly within a given organizational situation.

Theories for Deploying Quality Improvement

One general managerial theory (that actually encompasses a myriad of sub-theories) that has been specifically developed for and often applied to quality improvement activities is that of structured quality management, and specifically (Kovel-Jarboe 1996). This approach addresses every aspect of a business organization’s activities in an almost micro-managerial fashion, controlling and coordinating each level of the organization to support the same changes in quality. Though this theoretical approach is somewhat cumbersome, and would not be advisable on an ongoing basis in any but the smallest of organizations (and it is questionable even in these), it is highly effective at deploying quality improvement through the to the organization’s top decision makers over each aspect and action of the organization.

Systems theory is another approach that can prove highly successful in deploying quality improvements in an organization. Though not as directly involved in the minutiae of organizational activities, the more holistic and comprehensive view of systems theory can predict major changes in the quality of output from reconsiderations and adjustments in the input and processing aspects of the organization (McNamara 2009). This theory is also more broadly useful than Total Quality Management theory, and has been seen as of increasing importance during times of volatility in specific industries and the business world at large — such as in the current era. By viewing and treating the organization as a cohesive and interconnected system, quality can be affected in numerous more subtle ways.

Implementing Organizational Change

Both of these theories can also be utilized to implement changes other than direct quality improvements as well (though an attempt to achieve improved quality and/or efficiency is essentially at the heart of any organizational change). Total Quality Management and other structural management approaches again exert direct control form the top down on each of the various departments and activities of the organization. This direct approach allows for a total and coordinated plan to be implemented, and has the advantage of being able to implement separate changes in each department/activity, leading to a possibility of more drastic changes and reversals (Kovel-Jarboe 1996). This approach also as the disadvantage, however, of unpredictability when such drastic changes are implemented.

The systems theory approach to management does a lot to mitigate this unpredictability in assessing how changes in one part of an organization will affect each of the others; overall organizational change in systems theory can result from more subtle shifts in certain dynamic areas of the organization, which will necessarily have an effect on the other parts of the organization (McNamara 2009). Systems theory, in fact, could be seen as providing a framework for constant organizational change through an evolutionary process, as adjustments are continually made in response to changes in other parts of the organization (or system) adding up to a more total organizatioanl change over time (McNamara 2009). The larger changes that are usually referred to by the term “organizational change” can also be consciously effected in an application of systems theory, of course.

The Union of Organizational Change and Quality Improvement

Organizational change and quality improvement can be tackled at the same time most effectively with the systems theory approach. Top Quality Management and other structural managerial theories are excellent at providing direct changes and results, but these often require continued adjustment in the long-term, following the period of major change (Kovel-Jarboe 1996). Systems theory, on the other had, predicts precisely this type of ongoing change, and the periods of more dramatic change when undertaken in a systems framework will necessarily have less direct but more on the organization and its quality output (McNamara 2009). The entire organization and system are likely to be more fundamentally altered when changes are made using a systems theory approach, meaning that despite the constant evolutionary change that such a perspective sees at work in a given organization, this approach actually creates more stability by minimizing the degree and decreasing the likelihood of major organizational shifts.


Both Top Quality Management and systems theory have positives and negative in regards to deploying quality improvements and implementing organizational changes. The two theories are not mutually exclusive, however, and it is possible that a combination of the two perspectives is truly the most effective approach to these situations. A holistic view of the organization that allows for direct influence and change will be both stable and responsive, both of which are key to success.


Kovel-Jarboe, P. (1996). “Quality improvement: a strategy for planned organizational change.” Library trends. Accessed 28 October 2009.

McNamara, C. (2009). “Brief Overview of Contemporary Theories in Management.” Free management library. Accessed 28 October 2009.