Exploring archetypal change: The importance of leadership and its substitutes

Frederick A. Starke, Gita Sharma, Michael K. Mauws, Bruno Dyck, Parshotam Dass

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the process of transformational organizational change that occurred over time in a small manufacturing firm using the conceptual framework of organizational change and archetypes. Design/methodology/approach: This longitudinal study - which is based on six cycles of interviews with all members of the firm over a two-year period - examined how the change attempt was perceived by the strategic leadership, middle-level managers, and lower-level employees. Findings: The findings suggest that the pace of archetypal change is influenced by organization members' experience with, and capacity to, assimilate the change; that, sequentially, new structures and systems are implemented prior to new interpretive schemes; and that unresolved excursions are non-linear. These findings question the conventional wisdom about the importance of leadership in sustaining organizational transformation. Most notably, it was found that most of the archetypal change occurred after the initiating change agent (a new CEO) had left the firm and been replaced by the previous CEO who did not support the proposed changes. Originality/value: The paper offers the first longitudinal study to examine the issue of substitutes for strategic leadership. In addition to two new substitutes that should be considered at this level of analysis - information systems and interpretive schemes - the data also point to the impact of collective action by mid-level supervisors and employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-50
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb. 2011


  • Change management
  • Leadership
  • Organizational change


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