Organizational Change Skills: A Study of the Literature and the Education Available from American and Canadian MBA Programs

By Karen A. Somerville and Karen S. Whelan-Berry.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Organizational change skills have been identified as key skills for the 21st century. As an MBA degree is the most common qualification for managers, a pilot study was conducted to review MBA syllabi in relation to organizational change courses. A sample of 33 Canadian and U.S. MBA change syllabi suggests that relatively few change skills are included in students’ learning. Instead, this study suggests that the syllabi primarily focused on organizational change knowledge. It is important to not only offer the knowledge, but also to provide sufficient training to build skills. These findings suggest that MBA programs have a key opportunity to make their curricula more relevant for practitioners and organizations through change courses that include change skills as well as change knowledge. If this were done, it could have important positive implications for workplaces and their employees.

Keywords: Organizational Change, Organizational Change Skills, Organizational Change Education, MBA

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 9, Issue 10, pp.55-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.172MB).

Dr. Karen A. Somerville

Assistant Professor, Department of Management & Economics, School of Business, Hamline University, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

Dr. Karen Ann Somerville earned her Ph.D. at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University in Ottawa, ON, Canada. She is currently an Assistant Professor with Hamline University’s School of Business in the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. Dr. Somerville’s main research interests include organizational culture, organizational change, organizational behaviour and women in management. With more than 25 years experience in senior management positions in the private sector, the public sector, as well as the not for profit sector, Dr. Somerville is able to blend the theory with practical applications in workplaces. This focus guides her research interests and ensures that her research provides value for organizations. As well, her students frequently comment that they value the “real life” experiences that Dr. Somerville brings to the classroom, in addition to the theoretical content.

Dr. Karen S. Whelan-Berry

Associate Professor of Management, School of Business, Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Dr. Karen Whelan-Berry is an Associate Professor of Management at Providence College. Her research/practice/consulting interests include the organizational change process, individual work-life balance and related organizational benefits and practices, and individual and team development. Karen brings extensive practice/corporate experience to her work in academe.


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