Deciphering value discourse’s role in explaining the persistent perception of change failure

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Received wisdom is that 70% of change projects fail. Though contested, perceptions of change failure persist even where beneficial changes can be seen to deliver valued outcomes. Practical literature advises change managers to clearly articulate the value desired from investment in change; often these articulations of value are simplified references to anecdotal examples of increased efficiency – or ROI. We argue this reliance on simple, clear value statements during initiation is complicit in the persistent perception of change failure. We examine 791 value statements, made by participants involved in change activity in 62 organizations investing in improving project management practice, to identify four common discursive resources available to change proponents. These discursive resources provide a common vocabulary for discussions of value. By comparing and contrasting the use of value discourse at two points in time (change initiation and evaluation), we illustrate how perceptions of change failure arise and persist. Practitioners and academics are cautioned to pay attention to the role these value discourses play when contemplating, undertaking, or studying organizational change. Our contribution to phenomenon driven research lies in the unique cross case approach taken to examine this phenomenon which results in a more sophisticated understanding of organizational change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-296
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Change Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct. 2016


  • Phenomenon driven research
  • management innovation
  • organizational change
  • persistent perception of change failure
  • project management
  • value discourse


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