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Blended practices, a place for creative resistance in a top down strategic change


Bureaucratic organizations have often been studied in organizational theory, especially because of their organizational specificities (Weber 1968; Crozier 1964). They have been described as rigid and having difficulty changing (Crozier, 1964), with respect to the large number of rules and hierarchical levels and the top-down character of the information flow. Such organizations exist in some European countries especially in the “public sector”. They are nowadays changing due to the socio-political context, arguing of better profitability. Thus, when top managers desire strategic change, they have to solve the problem of translating the new strategy into practices at each level of organization (Whittington 2003) and particularly where the new strategy is put to the test: the front office. In such organizations, power and resistance seem particularly relevant to analyse the change processes. Different kinds of power and resistance are in relationship to each other (Clegg, 1989, p 208). Resistance may be considered not as a real act (Contu, 2008) but as a constellation of behaviours, discourses and inertia opposition. In such organizations, people are devoted to a specific organizational culture (Alvesson, 2002). Actors may develop resistance because they are devoted to previous values largely shared in the firm. In this paper, we are interested in organizational change in such organizations which in addition to market bureaucratic nature also have a particular and strong culture, in the meaning of Geertz (1973). We will base our reflection on the empirical study of a large Service Transport Organization (Called here STO). Furthermore, we show that we can detect different kinds of resistance to change, and that the evolution of practices depends on the combination of these resistances with elements deriving from the two hegemonies. We propose the notion of “blended practices”, showing that characteristically operational actors make their practices evolve by blending procedure applications, resistances, user concern and customer adaptation. Team and middle managers (Rouleau, 2005) play a deciding role in transforming some of these resistances into « creative resistances » and thus contribute to the innovation as a part of mundane activity (Middleton, 1998).
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hal-00572965 , version 1 (02-03-2011)


  • HAL Id : hal-00572965 , version 1


Régine Teulier, Nathalie Raulet-Croset. Blended practices, a place for creative resistance in a top down strategic change. 25th Egos Colloquium ,, Jul 2009, Barcelona, Spain. ⟨hal-00572965⟩
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