You are on page 1of 4


Concept Discussion
The concept of discontinuous change is contrary to the concept of continuous change.
According to Watzlawich (as cited in Meyer, Broo ! "oes, #$$%&, continuous
change (or first'order change&, refers to the changes which occur within a sta(le,
unchanged syste). Differently, discontinous change (or second'order change&, is the
nonlinear transfor)ation that usually occurs when the e*uili(riu) of a syste) was
(roen (y a radically changing en+iron)ent. Co)pared to continuous changes,
discontinuous changes often occur )ore suddenly and include so)e instantaneous
shifts. They play significant role in restructuring industry, changing co)petition (ases
and relocating industrial (oundaries (Meyer, Broo ! "oes, #$$%&. The sources of
discontinuous change can (e (oth e,ternal and internal. -unarsin (2%%$& has
recognised so)e )a.or sources of discontinuity as/ #& the e)erging of new )arets,
2& the application of political rules0 1& transfor)ations of )aret senti)ent and
(eha+ior, 2& changes of social attitudes, 3& technological inno+ation, 4& architectural
inno+ation, 5& )aret )aturity, $& occurrence of unthina(le e+ents, and so on.
The concept of discontinuous change fits within the strategic )anage)ent process.
According to 6a (2%#7&, strategic )anage)ent refers to a set of )anagerial decisions
and conductions which deter)ine an organisation8s long'ter) perfor)ance. 9our )ain
steps of strategic process include/ en+iron)ental scanning, strategy generation,
strategy i)ple)entation, and e+aluation and control. 6trategic )anage)ent fre*uently
wors in changing en+iron)ents. Discontinuous change forces fir)s to alter their
strategies to de+elop co)petiti+eness. :n this +iew, the purpose of strategic
)anage)ent of discontinuous change is to de+elop appropriate strategy to respond to
new transfor)ations *uicly. Thus, )anage)ent of discontinuous change is a
significant part of strategic )anage)ent. Besides, discontinuous change would lead to
different le+el of chaos in co)panies. That is (ecause rapid, +olatile, discontinuous
change creates )any negati+e affects, including/ disintegration, o+erwhel)ing stress,
relationship struggles, hopelessness, holding on, psychological tur)oil, and so on
(6alsi ! ;ardy, 2%#7&. Conse*uently, it is i)portant for the organisations to
de+elop)ent proper strategies to relie+e transfor)ation pains (A(raha)son, 2%%%&.
;ow to Assess Discontinuous Changes
The role, i)pacts and i)plications of rapid, +olatile, discontinuous change for a
co)pany could (e assessed (asis on a resource'(ased +iew (<B=& )odel. :n a <B=
)odel, the organisation is a (oundle of resources, capa(ilities and co)petencies.
According to Barney (as cited in Dutta ! >(araci, 2%%7&, only strategic resources
could help co)panies to o(tain co)petiti+e ad+antages and de+elop sustaina(ly. To
(e strategic, the resources should (e +alua(le, rare, i)perfectly i)ita(le and non'
su(stituta(le. :n this +iew, to (e +alua(le, discontinuous change should (e +alue
creating and not si)ultaneously i)ple)ented (y )any other co)panies. The success
of discontinuous change )anage)ent could (e assessed (y the degree that the
transfor)ation would de+elop strategic resources and co)petiti+e ad+antages. :t does
not only include the creation of resources and capa(ilities inside the co)pany, (ut
also include the )arets, acti+ities and geographies that help the co)panies to
co)pete with ri+als, gain strategic ad+antages, and )ae profits (?o+as ! "hoshal,
;ow C@As should <espond to Discontinuous Changes
:t is no dou(t that the C@As should play the single )ost i)portant role in
discontinuous change )anage)ent. ;owe+er, according to Ansoff (as cited in Bullen,
#$$7&, fir)s at discontinuous change stage face a situation where e,iting corporate
sills ha+e little rele+ance. That )eans C@As should )ae so)e specific responses at
discontinuous state. 9irstly, it is essential for the C@As to create case for change and
pro+ide that pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing (Cadlder !
6haw, #$$2&. To achie+e these, a fir) should #& design proper change strategy0 2&
i)ple)ent the strategy effecti+ely to response the changes0 7& (uild a supporti+e
organisational conte,t for change0 and 1& de+elop and strengthen e,ternal lins (Tidd,
Bessant ! Ba+itt, 2%%2&. ;owe+er, C@As could not do these alone. Thus, C@As ha+e
to de+elop an e,ecuti+e tea) at the top which can perfor) under pressure co)ing
with discontinuous change and sustain itsself through the hard and uncertain ti)es to
follow. Besides, it is also i)portant for C@As to )anage negati+e e)otions and
stresses that )ay occur a)ongst e)ployees (Cadlder ! 6haw, #$$2&.
There so)e e+idences a(out whether C@As respond appropriately to discontinuous
change. These e+idences can (e taled (ase on four'steps )odel of strategic
)anage)ent (6a, 2%#7&. 9irstly, at the stage of en+iron)ental scanning. :t is
i)portant for C@As to recognise the discontinuity and the D(rea'pointE of
discontinuous change and identify the need of )aing internal changes to response. :n
a +iew of learning organisation, need for change occurs when e)ployeeEs actual
perfor)ance is lower than desired perfor)ance (Bullen, #$$7&. Then, at the stage of
strategy de+elop)ent, C@As often carry on four )ain strategic transfor)ations in
organisations. They include/ #& change of product (or ser+ice&, 2& change of
technology, 7& change of organisational structure, and 1& change of organisational
Change of product and ser+ice pertains to an co)pany8s outputs of products and
ser+ices. :t ai)s to resol+e )areting pro(le).Technology change indicates the
transfor)ation of production process, including nowledge and sill (ase. :t is used to
response technological discontinuity. 6trategy and structure change refers to an
co)pany8s ad)inistrati+e do)ain, including super+ision and )anage)ent. They are
usually up'down changes. Then, culture change pertain to transfor)ations in
e)ployees8 +alues, e,pectations, (eliefs and (eha+iour. These are changes in the way
of e)ployee8s thining. These strategies could apply indi+idually or interdependently.
The ey to assess strategy application is to see whether the ideas of new strategies is
creati+e and suita(le to en+iron)ent changes (Daft, 2%%4& .
Then, at i)ple)entation stage, it is i)portant to see whether adaptions are taen to
)ae e)ployees and )anagers in agree)ent to support the change. 9or e,a)ple, a
leagal docu)ents should (e signed (y the (ord of directors for the )a.or change. :t is
also need to see whether e)ployeeEs e)otion is )anaged well0 and whether hu)an
resources are allocated properly. Any a(sence of significant steps )eans failure in
response (Daft, 2%%4&.
A(raha)son, @. (2%%%&. Change without pain. Harvard Business Review (-uly'
August&, 42'4$.
Daft, <.?. (2%%4&. Organisation theory and design ($
ed.&. The F.6./ Tho)son
Dutta, 6., >(araci, M.-. ! Bergen, M. (2%%7&. Bricing process as a capa(ility/ a
resources (ased perspecti+e. Strategic M anagement Journal 24 (4&, 3#2'37%.
-unarsin, @. (2%%$&. Managing discontinuous inno+ation. International Management
Review 5 (#&, #%'#5.
?o+as, B. ! "hoshal, 6. (2%%%&. 6trategy as guided e+olution. Strategic Management
Journal 21 (4&, 542'5$3.
Meyer, A.D., Broo, ".<. ! "oes, -.B. (#$$%&. @n+iron)ental .olts and industry
re+olutions/ organizational responses to discontinuous change. Strategic
Management Journal 11 (7&, $7'##%.

Cadlder, D.A., 6haw, <.B. and Walton, A.@. (#$$2&. iscontinuous change! 6an
9rancisco/ -ossey'Bass Bu(lishers.
Bullen, W. (#$$7&. 6trategic shocs/ )anaging discontinuous change. "he
International Journal o# $u%lic Sector Management & (#&, 7%'75.
6a, G. (2%#7&. @le)ents of strategic )anage)ent process and perfora)nce
)anage)ent syste)s in F.6. 9ederal agencies/ do e)ployee )anagerial le+els
)atterH International Journal o# Business Management ' ($&, #'#7.
6alsi, -.@. ! ;ardy, 6.A. (2%#7&. Disintegration, new consciousness, and
discontinuous transfor)ation/ a Iualitati+e in+estigation of Iuantu) change.
"he Humanistic $sychologist 41 (7&, #2$'#44.
Tidd, -., Bessant, -., ! Ba+itt, J. (2%%2&. Managing innovation( Integrating
technological) mar*et and organi+ational change (7rd ed.&. 6usse,/ -ohn Wiley
! 6ons.