The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Planning and Implementing Change in Organisations - a Construct for Managing Change Projects

Harri Lanning

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission for public examination and debate in Spektri in Luna Auditorium at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 16th of November, 2001, at 12 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-5702-5)   [1816 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-5715-7)


The research was about change management in organisations and, more precisely, practical constructs for carrying out change projects. In the early phases of the research, it became obvious that change efforts very often fail. Later, many different sources supported the existence of the need for a new construct for project managers to facilitate and support them planning and implementing change projects.

The research was thus focused on answering three research questions: (1) Is there a need for a new practical construct for change project managers helping them to plan and implement change projects? If yes, (2) is it possible to develop such a construct? If yes, (3) what should the construct be like? In addition to specifically answering the research questions, the objective was to gain new understanding on constructs assisting project managers to carry out change projects.

The research represented a hermeneutic, constructive case study, aiming at the understanding of the phenomenon and constructing a useful and theoretically grounded solution for a relevant problem. The study also belonged to design sciences, had a normative flavour and followed the principles of technical norm.

The objective of the research was to find useful solutions for practitioners and new knowledge for scholars. The process and the results were not obtained purely via objective procedures but, rather, subjectivity and interpretations played a certain role in finding new knowledge and solutions. The research process was iterative in nature. Unambiguous, indisputable causal relationships, stated in mathematical formulas and tables were not sought after. Emphasis was placed on solving problems and enhancing the knowledge on the area of the study.

The main phases of the research comprised preunderstanding, constructing and testing. First, change management and project management literature was studied and a comprehensive picture of existing theories for changing organisations was offered. The most important empirical research material included three case studies in the preunderstanding and twelve in the testing phase. Seven cases were action research cases; i.e., I had a role as a consultant in the project. Altogether 136 interviews were carried out in the course of the study. Questionnaires, archives, direct observations and quantitative performance data were also utilised.

The research questions were answered by first designing a novel construct for change project managers and then by evaluating and discussing the contents, usability and usefulness of the construct. The theoretical novelty of the construct and its connection to existing theories was also defined.

As a result, the need for a new practical construct for change project managers became obvious. It was also concluded that it was possible to design and to develop a practical, comprehensive and generic construct both easy to use and useful for change project mangers. The practical need was answered by developing and describing a new construct and by demonstrating its usefulness. The most significant theoretical contribution was enhanced knowledge and new understanding about constructs for assisting project managers to carry out change projects. As a conclusion, a new framework for designing a construct to facilitate carrying out change projects was introduced.

Keywords: change management, project management, organisational development, dissemination of innovations

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© 2001 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26