Measuring the implementation of quality innovations in the workplace

Year: 1994

Author: Schaafsma, Hank, Athanaso, James

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The process of implementing continuous improvement initiatives, as an aspect of quality, was examined by means of a Stages of Concern questionnaire (Hall, George & Rutherford, 1979). This study examined the concerns profiles of 243 front-line managers within Telecom Australia who were engaged in implementing two innovations: (a) a new service policy called "Fix-it-first-time", and (b) a change in the functional role of front-line managers. Although results were considered to be broadly consistent with a developmental and stage model of concerns, there were some surprises. The range of concerns expressed by this sample of workers was much narrower than that recently suggested by Bailey and Palsha (1992) in their study using the same Concerns-Based Adoption Model of Change (Hall & Hord, 1984).

Specifically, the findings point to the unexpected impact that these "quality" innovations had on co-operative work relationships with colleagues. That is, individuals' concerns about job security and their impact on work groups were perceived to be more important than concerns about the quality of service to clients and the vision of change in the organisation. When these findings were examined in the context of macro-changes of major industry restructuring and retrenchments within the organisation, there emerged a need to re- examine both this CBAM research tool and the psychological assumptions on which it is based. Results also confirmed a higher order structuring of concerns which occurs in the workplace and which goes beyond the original seven stages of concern hypothesised by Hall and his colleagues (1979) to encompass broadly defined personal concerns and impact concerns of the innovation. The implications of these findings are examined briefly in terms of an emerging critique of these kinds of change management models for the 1990's.