Abstract

The imperatives on contemporary organizations to adapt to an uncertain and turbulent environment are intense. Resilience refers to the ability to cope with change through a continuous process of renewal. The pace of change is at least as great in the public as the private sector, with technology being integral to the UK government’s modernization agenda. This represents a stiff challenge for the traditional, technically oriented IT department. Here we recount the history of one such department in a local government institution as it sought to reinvent itself to respond to these new demands. The development of an IS methodology, embodying a business and customer-centered approach, was seen as key to generating the required capacity to support strategic change in the wider organization. Although methodological innovation can be problematic, here it was brought off successfully. This was attributed to several factors, including the adoption of a participative action research approach and the commitment of senior IT management. Above all, the sense of crisis prevailing at the outset of the initiative was decisive. Crises present a major challenge to organizational sense-making; here the impending threat was interpreted positively as a proactive opportunity to develop a new strategic identity. A resilient “discourse of renewal” was kindled, with the need to build new technical capabilities through methodological innovation playing a central part.

Keywords

Organizational resilience public sector modernization methodological innovation action research discourse of renewal organizational crisis micro-politics 

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Copyright information

© International Federation for Information Processing 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Wastell
    • 1
  • Tom McMaster
    • 2
  • Peter Kawalek
    • 3
  1. 1.Nottingham University Business SchoolNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Information Systems InstituteUniversity of SalfordGreater ManchesterUK
  3. 3.Manchester Business SchoolManchesterUK

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