Managing Organisational Change Under Extreme Societal Conditions: A Qualitative Case Study Within the Dutch Mental Healthcare Sector in a COVID-19 Context

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced contemporary organisations to drastically change their organisational processes and structures, leaving organisational change managers with the difficult task of managing change in extremely impactful, uncertain and turbulent societal circumstances, that they had yet to understand themselves. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the stock of knowledge about organisational change, by exploring change management approaches adopted throughout this extreme societal context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This multiple case study is based on in-depth interviews that were conducted amongst a diverse set of Dutch mental healthcare practitioners from multiple organisational backgrounds. Participants were asked what change management efforts they experienced within their organisation during the sudden change process to a highly virtual work environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this COVID-19 context affected their reactions throughout the change process. This study shows how change managers seemingly adopted two different types of change management efforts alternatively, throughout different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also shows how the pandemic provided a large part of sensemaking about the change amongst change recipients, leading to an overall high degree of acceptance of the change and of change managers’ efforts, regardless of the difficulties that they experienced.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen