Change Management Choices and Trajectories in a Multidivisional Firm

21 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2010

See all articles by Inger Stensaker

Inger Stensaker

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)

Ann Langley

HEC Montreal


This paper draws on a comparative case study of the implementation of a planned change initiative across three different divisions of a multidivisional oil company to investigate the influences guiding division-level change agents in their choice of a change management approach and the impact of different approaches on change outcomes. While the contingency perspective suggests that change management approaches should be chosen to fit with change content and context, we found that change agents navigated amongst three concerns: substantive concerns related to goal attainment, political concerns related to conformity to corporate demands, and relational concerns concerning relations with employees. We identified three different change management trajectories across the three divisions based on alternative ways of balancing the concerns. The data show that, regardless of the change management approach adopted, change tends to be diluted in implementation. However, the various trajectories have differential consequences for other important dimensions such as corporate approval and relationships with employees.

Suggested Citation

Stensaker, Inger and Langley, Ann, Change Management Choices and Trajectories in a Multidivisional Firm. British Journal of Management, Vol. 21, Issue 1, pp. 7-27, March 2010. Available at SSRN: or

Inger Stensaker (Contact Author)

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045

Ann Langley

HEC Montreal ( email )

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