- the principles and processes of TQM, downsizing, and reengineering are reminiscent merely of commonly prescribed "good" management practice, a majority of organizations that embark on these change efforts do not accomplish their objectives.
One can speculate that lack of success may occur because each of these approaches to change strikes at a very deeply rooted, core part of the organization. Certain aspects of organizations are difficult to change; indeed, their very inertia may contribute in some ways to their effectiveness. In the case of reengineering, an attempt to radically change the processes and direction of the organization may create enough discomfort and resistance that most efforts to switch directions fail. In the case of downsizing, the fear, distrust, uncertainty, and potential for personal harm may mitigate against any organizational downsizing strategy. In the case of TQM, changing the culture of an organization so that it is based on a new set of principles, regardless of how desirable they may be, may represent an affront to fundamental elements in an organization and therefore may be resisted. It is not yet clear why the failure rate is so high when organizations implement these three approaches to change, yet it is not hard to see that the fundamental change that each aspires to achieve is not easily attained.
- Key questions remain unaddressed by research regarding each of these approaches to organizational change. Among the most important questions are those relating to definitions and dimensions, contingency conditions, time frame, implementation strategy, measurement criteria, and policy implications.
It is evident that three highly popular and widely applied approaches to organizational change have captured managers' attention. Each promises dramatic improvements, increased effectiveness, and a change in the way of life in organizations. Each risks the threat of being relegated to the management fad ragbag, however, because none has been rigorously studied in systematic, empirical ways, especially regarding its impact on organizational effectiveness. Spotty evidence of impact on effectiveness exists, but evidence also exists that each is useless if not harmful. These conditions combine to produce an area that is ripe for important scholarly research.