9 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2010
Date Written: October 20, 2009
“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” (Niccolo Machiavelli)
Public institutions are rigid organizations, characterized by a hierarchical structure, often slow in reacting. Changes are mostly induced by outside forces, either political opinions or international organizations that set structural standards the institutions must comply with. But when it comes to changing people – their mentality, the way they act/react – all bets are off, as there are social and psychological factors that enter the equation. This study investigates how could public managers use communication to ease the transition for the civil servants and to create adaptive mechanisms in their institutions.
Whenever change is being implemented, the fear factor can set in. This can be the fear of change itself and its consequences such as the possible loss of job security or loss of responsibility or control. Continuous, honest and open communication is essential in such cases, because change can take people out of their “comfort zone” and raise their stress levels. The challenge is to communicate the right message – that the “new zone” is even more comfortable and secure, or at least it will be once the initial short-term discomfort of implementing change has been overcome.
The study concludes that knowing how, what, when, to whom and how much to communicate is essential for institutions going through change processes and it can help motivate the employees and gain understanding and support from the community.
Keywords: public institutions, change management, leadership, communication
JEL Classification: H110, M120
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation