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Managing Change

All businesses must constantly analyse their current position to see how they need to change. The need to change may come from internal factors such as the desire to increase profits or from the realisation that the business is not functioning as well as it could do. It may also come from external factors such as new and improved competition which is taking market share and profits or a change in customers’ needs and wants. Legislation may change the business environment or new technology requiring new products or processes. How businesses manage this change is vital as there are countless once thriving businesses that have not survived due to their inability to adapt e.g. Kodak which could not embrace digital photography quickly enough. On the other hand, some of the most successful businesses of today have arrived in that position because of their ability to adapt to a changing environment. Change can also happen to businesses because of a change in ownership e.g. takeover, merger or demerger.

This study guide will examine what the crucial factors in change management are and some of the factors that can make it difficult to achieve as well as how businesses are more likely to successfully manage change. The change under discussion can be a step change which would be a radical change or incremental which would be a piecemeal, step by step approach to change. A business that realises it needs to radically change its product lines might do this one product at a time or all at the same time. If it needs to reduce costs by reorganising and outsourcing some of its functions (e.g. manufacturing to the Far East) it can do this gradually or in one movement. You are unlikely to get a question that asks you to discuss change in a general and theoretical way. You will need to apply the theory in this study guide to real businesses. The case studies should help you to do this but also you must also read about real businesses and how they manage change.

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