RecensionsBook Reviews

Organization Change: Theory and Practice, By Warner W. Burke (2018) 5th edition, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 454 pages. ISBN: 978-1-50635-799-7[Record]

  • Véra-Line Montreuil

…more information

  • Véra-Line Montreuil
    Doctoral Candidate in Industrial Relations, Département de relations industrielles, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Gatineau, Québec, Canada

Change management has become critical in today’s organizations as their environment is constantly evolving. While there is accumulating scientific literature on leading change, organizations and workers are still confronted with new challenges. W. Warner Burke, a well-known expert on change management, provides with his book (fifth edition) an up-to-date comprehensive and well-structured overview of change management. The author’s research expertise and consulting experience also give insights to overcome some practical issues of change. Therefore, Burke’s work is an attempt to offer a valuable tool for researchers and practitioners interested in gaining or enhancing knowledge regarding organizational change. This book aims to discuss the latest research and practice on change management. All sections written in previous editions are retained. However, in contrast to the fourth edition, it has a new chapter on health care and government organizations. The focus on these institutions’ realities aims to fill a gap in the field, considering that knowledge of change management is predominantly based on profit-making enterprises rather than non-profit organi-zations. The book is divided into seventeen chapters. The overall structure allows the reader to follow a sequential logic. Starting with an overview of its key concepts, followed by a brief history of change, the author sets the stage for an in-depth presentation of organizational change and ends with a summary. Although the book is not organized along these lines, the seventeen chapters can be grouped under seven main themes: a- background and rationale; b- nature and levels of change; c- current research; d- change and organizational models; e- change in the organization as a whole; f- change leadership; and g- summary and integration. This book is one of the few works that encompass a broad range of change management issues concisely. Burke covers various seminal research studies in change management literature, which makes it particularly useful for students, researchers and practitioners who are new to the field or who want to deepen their knowledge. It is also noteworthy that the book, which integrates the accumulated evidence-based knowledge and includes educational resources, makes the work of Burke an interesting choice for teaching purposes. Some might criticize the book for not offering enough action-oriented toolkits. However, it provides various change strategies, rather than a monolithic prescriptive approach, which can be helpful in adapting change practices to appropriate contexts. The book also succeeds well in integrating theory and research with case applications. Moreover, by consistently sharing the origins of his reflections, Burke helps the reader to make an informed judgment, which makes the reading more interesting and engaging. While Burke places great emphasis on planned change throughout his work, a greater place given to emergent change models in a future edition would be relevant, considering that there is a growing interest in the latter among researchers. This line of research seems indeed promising to understand all permutations within organizations. In conclusion, this book serves its purpose of conveying the most recent scientific and practical findings in change management and certainly represents a far-reaching reference in the field.