METHODOLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS / BELIEFS

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RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

The comprehensive literature review in chapters 2 and 3 provided the theoretical context of the research. This chapter will focus on the research methodology for both the qualitative and quantitative research approach. Research methodology explains the process followed to perform an empirical study and described the population, sample, tools and techniques used within the study. The research design will be described, providing the foundation for the research process followed (De Vos et al., 2002).indicated, this research project adopted a multi-phased approach, which included the following qualitative and quantitative research approach characteristics (Creswell, 1998): Qualitative o The topic had to be widely explored.There was a need to present a detailed view of the topic.
Sufficient time and resources were necessary to execute the research.
The research shaped continuously as the project progressed.
Quantitative o A highly formalised and explicitly controlled approach was followed.
The researcher’s role was that of an objective observer.
The research focused on specific questions and hypotheses.
Statistical methods were used to determine whether the improvement in the change-readiness scores of the group supported by change agents meeting the ideal profile were significantly larger than the improvement in change-readiness scores of the group supported by change agents who did not meet the ideal profile.This multiple-phased research approach as well as the steps followed in the research process will be explained in this chapter. The reason for choosing a specific research design will be discussed for the sample sizes justified. The way in which data were collected and the measuring instruments utilised in doing so will also be indicated. Provision of this information indicates how the researcher carefully planned the execution of the research project in an effort to improve the scientific quality and validity of the outcome (Mouton & Marais, 1994).

RESEARCH DESIGN

According to De Vos et al. (2002) research design refers to a plan or blueprint of how one intends conducting the research. The research design serves as a point of departure, and while focusing on the logic of the research, emphasises what the end product should be. In this instance a comprehensive three-step qualitative and ninestep quantitative research process were designed, which will be schematically illustrated and explained.The research design is determined by the research question(s) which in turn influence the research activities, such as what data to collect and how. An exploratory and descriptive research design was chosen for the purposes of the research, incorporating multiple research methods in order to compile a change agent identification framework, whilst ensuring the validity and reliability of the research process.The research design chosen for this research project is known as a comparison group pre- and post-test design. The dependent variable (the change-readiness scores of the employees concerned) was measured before the “treatment”, which is also referred to as the independent variable (support by change agents). This variable is then re-measured after the introduction of three different levels of the independent variable or “treatment”, as indicated in chapter 1. These “treatment” levels refer to no support from change agents, support from change agents meeting the ideal profile and support from change agents not meeting the ideal profile, in terms of personality traits.The ultimate goal of the empirical research phase was to determine whether the improvement in change-readiness scores was significantly larger for the group supported by change agents possessing a specific personality trait from the ideal profile compared with the improvement in change-readiness scores of the group supported by change agents not possessing a specific personality trait from the ideal profile.The two groups of employees were contrasted by comparing the improvement of employee change-readiness score, that is the difference, between pre-test and posttest ADKAR change-readiness assessment scores.  Difference (improvement) scores involve subtracting the pre-test scores from the post-test scores. The pre- and posttest ADKAR change-readiness scores will be provided in chapter 5. The overall empirical research question (Are there significantly larger improvements in the change-readiness scores of employees supported by change agents possessing a specific trait from the ideal profile versus employees supported by change agents not having that specific trait?) was answered by means of the comparison scores. All employee pre-test results served as an anchor, making it possible to compare the two employee groups. A detailed process description and the reasons for specific steps followed in the research process will be provided.The sample groups were not obtained by random assignment but by purposive sampling. Purposive sampling falls under the category of probability sampling (Seaberg, 1988). The type “purposive sampling” in this category refers to researcher’s judgement.  The sample of change agents was purposefully chosen because they showed a high-level of change-readiness in the ADKAR changereadiness assessment results.This research was conducted in a South African utility organisation consisting of approximately 32 000 employees across the country. The research was performed in the procurement and supply chain function of the organisation. During the period of the research this function experienced major transformational change. The objective of the transformational change was to change the way in which the organisation procures goods and services. All procurement and supply chain processes, as well as organisational structures, had to be reviewed and changed. Approximately 1002 employees were impacted by these changes. Not all of the 1 002 affected employees were assessed by the ADKAR change-readiness assessment, because only a certain number of roadshows were undertaken. The reasons for not visiting all the sites where the employees concerned were based were because of time constraints and overall business priorities, that is, the financial year-end and a cost-saving initiative throughout the organisation. In many instances the site managers themselves shared the objectives, benefits and processes of this project with their employees.  In total, 350 of the 1 002 employees completed the ADKAR changereadiness assessment, and for these individuals, baseline ADKAR results were therefore available.Since the 1 002 employees affected by the change were scattered throughout the country and a huge number of employees were involved, it was decided to establish a change agent network. The main purpose of this network was to appoint individuals to assist the change management team in supporting the affected employees throughout the transition period, and also ensuring that all project-related communication messages would filter through. This was the first time ever that the concept “change agent network” had been introduced to the organisation.The organisation welcomed the establishment of such a network, and was eager to have this research done, to determine the ideal personality traits that employees should portray in order to act as change agents. 100 employees were identified as change agents based on their high levels of change-readiness (desire to change). Owing to a number of reasons, as explained in chapter 5, the 100 selected change agents reduced to 27 after a few months. Firstly, the remaining 27 change agents were later-on requested to complete an Occupational Personality Profile (OPP) questionnaire to determine which of them indeed display those personality traits that form part of the ideal profile of a change agents. Secondly, it had to be determined whether the change agents with the key personality traits from the ideal profile resulted in employees showing significantly larger improvements in changereadiness versus employees supported by change agents not possessing key traits. The ideal profile was compiled by means of a qualitative research phase, to be explained later. The sample group from which final change-readiness measures were obtained consisted of 135 impacted employees in the procurement and supply chain function who were supported by the change agents involved in the research and who were responsible for guiding them through the transformation change process. The method of selecting the 135 employees to complete the ADKAR will be explained later.Initially, the literature on the roles and responsibilities of change agents were researched. Limited information was found on the identification of individuals as change agents, and the organisation therefore used its own discretion by selecting change agents through the use of the ADKAR change-readiness survey (Arrata et al., 2007). This survey will be explained comprehensively later.During the quantitative phase of this research project, certain steps were followed in order to compare the improvement in change-readiness scores respectively of employees supported by change agents with a specific personality trait that forms part of the ideal profile and those employees supported by change agents not meeting the ideal profile. Both the qualitative and quantitative steps followed in this research project are explained in sections.

RESEARCH APPROACH

As indicated in chapter 1, a combined qualitative and quantitative research approach was adopted in the research project. This method is known as a “multiple-phased approach”, as described by Creswell (1994).On completion of the initial quantitative and qualitative research phase, it was essential to test whether the verified qualitative information was indeed valid, by empirically and quantitatively testing the elements in the developed theoretical framework. A detailed quantitative research approach was followed which included a multiple group pre- and post-test design approach, as indicated earlier.

RESEARCH PROCESS DESCRIPTION 

Since the research process consisted of a number of qualitative and a number of quantitative steps, the research design, description of the measuring instruments, sample group description and the data collection method in each step are interlinked and are described as part of the same process in this section. This will allow for a more substantive and clearer picture of what needed to be achieved.

Quantitative process: completion of ADKAR and its reliability coefficients

A number of roadshows were undertaken during the period mid-2007 to the beginning of 2008 within the procurement and supply chain function of the utility organisation. The objective of these roadshows was to ensure that the employees to be affected by transformation were fully aware of the objectives of the change, the benefits for them and the organisation and the way forward. A sample group of 350 from the total population of 1 002 procurement & supply chain function employees were engaged with during the roadshows undertaken – all employees were part of this functionality where a new operational model had to be implemented.  The employees completed a change-readiness survey known as the ADKAR changereadiness questionnaire. This questionnaire was used to determine the change readiness levels of those affected by the change and to identify individuals to act as change agents. The reasons for the selection of this questionnaire are outlined in the following section. All 350 employees completed the ADKAR questionnaire.  A detailed description of this questionnaire will be provided.Employees who indicated a high level of desire to change were selected as change agents. This means that all employees who indicated a number 4 or 5 (Agree or strongly agree) on a Likert-type scale, next to the statements in the “desire” category of the ADKAR questionnaire, were identified as change agents. This was the first time the organisation had selected change agents, and it was not clear how to ideally identify individuals as potential change agents. Key stakeholders in the organisation then recommended that the employees who indicated a high desire to change, as per the ADKAR questionnaire results, should be identified as change agents. According to the ADKAR principles, individuals with a high desire to change are eager to participate in the change and motivate others to accept and participate in the change process as well (Hiatt, 2006). This was the first time the ADKAR change-readiness questionnaire had been administered and served as the initial pre-test measure. The ADKAR served as the post-test measure as well, determining whether there was a significantly larger improvement in employee change-readiness scores when supported by change agents displaying a specific personality trait that forms part of the ideal profile versus employees supported by change agents not displaying that specific personality trait as per the ideal profile from the developed change agent identification framework. The ADKAR pre-test and post-test results had to be compared in order to determine whether or not there was a significantly larger improvement in change-readiness.

Reasons for selection of the ADKAR and instrument description

The organisation decided to make use of the ADKAR change-readiness assessment owing to the limited time it took to complete the questionnaire and its simplicity. Two other change-readiness assessments were reviewed before deciding to use the ADKAR.  First, the change-readiness assessment of Maurer (1996) was reviewed. This assessment consisted of nine questions. However, because the items were not being grouped categorically, it would have been difficult to identify people with a passion for and desire to change. Secondly, a change-readiness assessment developed by Performance Programs Incorporated was reviewed (Performance Programs Incorporated, 2008). This assessment tool consisted of 41 standardised questions that are sub-divided into the following categories: employee involvement, preparation for change, attitudes towards change, reaching the goal and project activities (Maurer, 1996). This assessment was deemed appropriate and valuable but because it consisted of more than 40 items, it would take the participants longer than could be accommodated to complete.The instrument chosen, namely the ADKAR, was developed by the Prosci Change Management Learning Centre. According to Hiatt (2006), every organisation uses different assessments, to measure an employee’s readiness to change.  The assessment consists of 18 questions and represents the following dimensions/categories of an employee’s readiness to change: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement, all linked to the proposed change. These five dimensions relate to the following:
Awareness of the need to change:This relates to the level of understanding of the business, customer or competitor issues that have created a need to change.
Desire to change: This concerns the level of understanding of the impact change will have on the individual as well as his or her motivation and commitment to change.
Knowledge of the change and how to change: This involves the level of understanding of skills and behaviours required in the new environment.
Ability to perform during and after the change: This relates to the level of proficiency in terms of managing the new environment and all related factors that the changes will effect.
Reinforcement of change: This entails the level of agreement/confidence in terms of adequate mechanisms, processes and/or procedures in place to sustain change (Hiatt, 2006).This model was first published by Prosci in 1998 after research at more than 300 companies undergoing major change. Even though this is a change-readiness assessment tool, it has been used in past research to identify change agents (Hiatt, 2006). As indicated, individuals who showed a high level of desire to change, on a five-point Likert-type scale were identified as change agents. An example of the ADKAR questionnaire used is included.

1. OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH
1.1 BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE FOR THE RESEARCH
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.5 THE PARADIGM PERSPECTIVE
1.6 METHODOLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS / BELIEFS
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.8 RESEARCH VARIABLES
1.9 UNIT OF ANALYSIS
1.10 DATA ANALYSIS
1.11 ETHICAL RESEARCH PRINCIPLES
1.12 RESEARCH METHOD
1.13 THESIS LAYOUT
1.14 CHAPTER CONCLUSION
2. UNDERSTANDING CHANGE, ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 UNDERSTANDING CHANGE
2.3 UNDERSTANDING ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
2.4 UNDERSTANDING CHANGE MANAGEMENT
2.5 CRITIQUE ON THE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF CHANGE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS
2.6 CHAPTER CONCLUSION
3. THE CHANGE AGENT
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE CHANGE AGENT
3.3 PERSONALITY TRAITS OF A CHANGE AGENT
3.4 CHANGE AGENT: THE IDEAL PROFILE
3.5 CHANGE AGENT SKILLS
3.6 KNOWLEDGE OF A POTENTIAL CHANGE AGENT 
3.7 LEVELS OF DESIRE TO CHANGE
3.8 ROLES AND RESPONSBILITIES OF A CHANGE AGENT
3.9 CHANGE AGENT NETWORK
3.10 CHANGE AGENT IDENTIFICATION
3.11 REWARDING CHANGE AGENTS
3.12 CHAPTER CONCLUSION
4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.3 RESEARCH APPROACH
4.4 RESEARCH PROCESS DESCRIPTION
4.5 RESEARCH VARIABLES
4.6 UNIT OF ANALYSIS
4.7 ETHICAL RESEARCH PRINCIPLES
4.8 SUMMARY OF THE RESEARCH METHODS APPLIED
4.9 CHAPTER CONCLUSION
5. RESEARCH RESULTS AND FINDINGS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 RESEARCH FINDINGS
5.3 CHAPTER CONCLUSION
6. CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 CONCLUSIONS
6.3 GENERAL RESEARCH AIM
6.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
6.5 RESEARCH LIMITATIONS
6.6 POST CHANGE AGENT IDENTIFICATION CONSIDERATIONS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A CHANGE AGENT IDENTIFICATION FRAMEWORK

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