Explaining failing culture change aimed at more service provision: A test of three agentic factors

Petra Y. Jorritsma*, Celeste P.M. Wilderom

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Headquarter managers of a medium sized manufacturing company initiated a culture change in their five dispersed wholesale units: aiming for more external service quality. After the onset of this change, including some restructuring, the company was acquired by a world player that demanded rationalization and standardization. Survey and interview data from the wholesale units' employees, collected at two points in time over 3.5 years, showed neither culture change nor service improvement. Hypotheses containing agentic explanations for the failed culture change were largely confirmed. Despite the fact that local change agents were not the initiators or owners of the intended change, the degree of satisfaction with the local change agents was found to explain most of the variance in culture and service climate scores. The results show, furthermore, the importance of training employees in the required new behavior if one is seriously intending to upgrade one's service quality and/or change the culture. Longitudinal socialcapital studies are recommended that focus on better headquarter collaboration with those who have detailed local service knowledge or insights into what service employees see as barriers and opportunities for service enhancements. Based on the results of this study, various other lessons learnt are formulated. One of which is the lack of one or more managers or consultants responsible for the entire improvement process: this despite a willingness on the work floor to continuously engage themselves in refining their services.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    Event71st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management , AOM 2011: West Meets East: Enlightening, Balancing, and Transcending - San Antonio, United States
    Duration: 12 Aug 201116 Aug 2011
    Conference number: 71


    Conference71st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management , AOM 2011
    Abbreviated titleAOM 2011
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySan Antonio


    • Failed organizational culture change
    • Satisfaction with the change agents
    • Service climate on the work floor


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