Change Management Case analysis of Center of Forensic and Digital Science

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The Vision of the UAE-2021 ‑ the ambitious concept of state development of the Emirates, proclaimed by the government of the country ‑ involves the widespread introduction of innovations in public services, improving their quality for the benefit of the population. In particular, one of the sections of the concept is a secure (safe) state and a fair judiciary. The UAE leadership is aware that the prospects for the UAE are highly dependent on the availability of an effective judicial system in the country. In the UAE Vision 2021, among many tasks, there is strengthening security and developing the capacity of national security and law enforcement services, building a fair legal system that can protect rights.

Thanks to the measures taken in the framework of the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE judicial system is one of the most effective in the world. However, the path to such high recognition was not easy. Nevertheless, the case of creation and establishing world class forensic medicine and crime laboratory Center (Center of Forensic and Digital Science) is an interesting example of change management, which ultimately led to success, but did not escape challenges and uncertainties.

A Change Case: Description

In 2014 when Abu Dhabi local government decided to create and establish world class forensic medicine and crime laboratory Center that support independent judicial system which administers justice impartially and safeguard the rule of the law. That was done through acquisition of the Federal Forensic Medicine Division where all senior administrator and technical employees have been transferred to the brand new (Center of Forensic and Digital Science).

The initial plan was to start developing Forensic Chemistry Laboratory through adapting to international standardization ISO 17025:2005. Abu Dhabi Local Government realize the necessity for fresh blood of youth who is well educated and adaptable to the completely new concept of workflow in order to work as a driving forces and suppress the level of trial inherited by the senior employees from their previous work experience. For that purpose, six youth from millennial generation had been recruited and sent abroad to the US, into one of the most famous Medical Examiner in order to acquire basic and advance learning concept and methodology of the Crime Laboratory.

Experience shows that in the process of implementing legal norms, law enforcement agencies face questions that can only be solved by using special medical knowledge. An example is the question: “What is the cause of death?”, and many others like it. In other situations, the problem that arose during the investigation can be solved by various means, and one of them is special medical research. For example, in cases where it is necessary to find out whether the person of interest to the investigation was in a particular room, one can use operational investigative techniques and methods, but also the capabilities of the forensic technique can be used, but it is possible also to use purely medical means to conduct an identification study of biological objects.

In both the first and second cases, criminal procedural problems are solved by forensic medicine by using the knowledge of the medical and biological nature accumulated by the relevant sciences. Thus, forensic science acts as a scientific and practical mediator between the law and the huge volumes of information on the biomedical plan (Buerger et al., 2018). Thus, the quality of the work of forensic laboratories is one of the determining factors for the effectiveness of the work of law enforcement agencies, ensuring the state of the rule of law functioning and, therefore, image of the state in the eyes of its citizen and international community.

The plan for the creation and development of the Center of Forensic and Digital Science provided for a better regulation of forensic activities in Abu Dhabi, determined the legal, organizational, and financial foundations of this activity, established a single conceptual framework, clarified the powers of subjects of forensic activities, etc. In particular, special attention is paid to the expert opinion, the requirements for each of its three parts (introductory, research, and final) are specified in detail, the rules for expert’ notifying about inability of providing opinion/conclusion. One of the key global goals of the project was the creation of an effective Quality Management System (QMS) in compliance with ISO/IEC 17025 standardization.

Change implementation projects can be not always highly organized process ongoing with excellence; confrontations and problems are inevitable. It should be noted that the effectiveness of the transition model will be achieved in those organizations in which the leadership has a vision of the organization’s future position and is ready for action with respect to the outside world (Abudi, 2017).

The ability of organizations to develop and adapt to changing environmental conditions is one of the key factors for their success. Implementation of organizational changes should be aimed at favorable changes and have undoubted advantages, but, like any complicated task, it has its own problems and limitations. The process of creation and establishing world class forensic medicine and crime laboratory Center, described in this paper, naturally, implied some challenges but represented highly valuable experience which can be applied further in other areas of state institutions reforms in frames of UAE Vision 2021.

The Precedents, Key Issues and Reasons Leading to the Situation Necessitating the Change

The change program was intended to translate the ambitious vision of placing the Emirate of Abu Dhabi gradually on the list of the world five best governments in term of independent judicial system that administers justice impartially and safeguard the rule of the law. Moreover, establishing a Quality Management System (QMS) in compliance with ISO/IEC 17025 standardization which has been widely accepted and adopted as a national/international standard for testing and calibration laboratories in order to monitors activities, eliminate or minimize uncertainty and allowing continuance improvements in the corporation’s process. In addition, lack of reference validated analytical procedure (SOP) have been identified.

Theoretical Background: Current Change Management Theory and Its Implications for the Case

Change management is the new and most complex issue of modern management. If the usual management with continuous improvement (Kaizen, SDCA) has the effect of increasing efficiency by units of percent per year, then the implementation of the changes ensures the achievement of the maximum possible goals. During strategic management, the achieved results, as well as their forecasts, are compared with the planned ones and, in case of deviations, the necessary corrections are made.

However, such management is impossible when making changes, because the process of making changes, as Kurt Levin showed, does not end even after the changes are introduced into real activities, but only when the process of forming a new organizational culture, corresponding to the new organization, is completed (Palmer et al., 2016). The way out of this situation is that change management should be carried out not “from the goal,” but “from the changes” (Palmer et al., 2016). That is, it is necessary to clearly articulate the changes, develop intermediate reference points for the changes and their timing.

In modern literature, polar concepts of organizational development are singled out, each of which determines an appropriate strategy for change. The authors of these concepts, called theory E and theory O, respectively, are Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria (2000). Theory E is based on the primacy of financial goals and focuses on their effective achievement, given the constant pressure of the company’s shareholders.

Theory O considers the organization as a self-developing system and is more focused on the corporate culture, goals and motives of the organization’s employees. Leaders who prefer theory E usually use tough methods, focusing on the implementation of change from top to bottom and focusing on creating structures and systems. Leaders-adherents of the theory of O are more focused on the training and development of employees, changes in corporate culture and the implementation of changes from the bottom up. Table 1 presents the characteristics of these theories.

Table 1. Comparative characteristics of theories of organizational change.

Characteristics Theory E Theory O
Purpose of Change Profit increase (economic goals) Organizational skills development
Leadership Top to bottom (autocratic) Participating (participatory)
Change Object Structure and systems (“hard” elements) Organizational culture (“soft” elements)
Purpose of Change Programmable and planned changes Spontaneous changes (reaction to emerging opportunities)
Motivation for change Financial incentives The combination of different incentives
Consultants participation Consultants use off-the-shelf technology and solutions Employee involvement in decision making

Source: Beer, M. & Nohria, N. (2000). Resolving the Tension between Theories E and O of Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

The choice of a particular theory depends primarily on the following factors:

  • The nature and extent of the problem. If the organization is faced with serious problems that need to be addressed immediately, the Theory E approach is likely to be suitable;
  • Personal characteristics of employees of the organization. Highly educated and creative collaborators appear to prefer the Theory of O approach; employees with a low level of education, non-initiative people will not be able to cooperate with leadership with this approach ‑ the approach of Theory E will be more appropriate;
  • The nature and content of work in the organization. With monotonous and routine work, it is difficult to develop creativity and involvement in the management process. It is necessary to clearly establish the procedures and rules of behavior, which is typical for Theory E. On the contrary, where creativity and a non-standard approach to decision making are required, it is better to develop organizational abilities and create a “learning organization” that corresponds to Theory O;
  • Value orientations of leadership and leadership style. The leader, oriented on economic values, will most likely use Theory E, while socially oriented leader will prefer Theory O. The autocratic leader will prefer Theory E, democratic one – Theory O.

There is a question if it possible to combine hard and soft methods in the implementation of changes and how should this be done. Beer and Nohria (2000) believe that the combination of hard and soft methods is necessary to achieve maximum effect. However, they note that the ability to combine these methods in view of the deep contradictions between the theories on which they are based remains for the responsibility of the most talented and trained leaders. An unsuccessful and ill-conceived combination of hard and soft methods can lead to complete failure, and it is better to use a hard or soft approach in a “pure” form, understanding the shortcomings and limitations of each of them.

In the case under consideration, we can say that there is a certain mix of theories E and O, with a shift towards the theory of E, which is natural given the nature of the organization that is directly related to law enforcement, the judicial system and even, in a wider context, national security. However, the management applied Theory E methods in the process of establishing structure and organizational procedures and processes. In development of organizational capabilities, the management adapted Theory O a through contracting with house of expertise to performed Gap Analysis and provide Up-To-Date field-base knowledge.

Training through seminars, workshops, coaching (one to one) session was introduced. Moreover, performance analysis system with the used of KPI was established, as well as personal evaluation quarterly visits practice was adopted. Some elements of talent management system were adapted for the laboratory Center. In particular, talent management is implemented as an integrated approach to managing various HR processes, including recruiting, hiring, quick adaptation, training, performance management, leadership development and job planning.

The participation became highly encouraged; the more people are “almost involved,” the easier and faster one can make them fully involved by focusing on key factors. In order to increase employee engagement, it is necessary to focus on those factors that have the greatest impact in the organization. However, for effective engagement management, regardless of these factors, five components are needed that have been implemented:

  1. Inspiring Leadership. In organizations characterized by high levels of employee engagement, senior management is an example of the commitment to the organization and their people (Cameron & Green, 2015). They devote a lot of personal time, attention and effort to communicating with employees, conduct meetings and interviews, personally welcome newcomers hired, and discuss the goals and objectives with employees. Key factors include management’s interest in the well-being of employees, job prospects, and career opportunities (Hiatt & Creasey, 2013).
  2. Strong corporate culture. The development and strengthening of corporate culture is realized through employees, or rather through their competencies. Organizations with a high level of staff involvement more carefully compare the candidate’s competency model with the organization’s competency model, thus achieving a clearer correspondence between the newly hired employee and corporate culture values (Aziz & Curlee, 2017).
  3. Talent development. Organizations that are the best employers from the point of view of employees working there pay attention to talent development no less seriously than any other investment opportunities, and these investments are paying off. One of the most effective tools is employee’ participation in management and the ability to influence the strategy or propose ideas that will affect it (Aziz & Curlee, 2017).
  4. Awareness of staff. Creating an information channel through which all employees learn about all important events, about what is happening in the organization, how it lives, increases loyalty to the organization and pride in own work. It is also worth broadcasting information about the strategic and tactical challenges that the organization faces, about goals, plans and tasks for the near future (Hiatt & Creasey, 2012). It is equally important to tell employees about all the projects that are launched in the organization, about the successes achieved and the people whose efforts have contributed to this.
  5. A strong sense of responsibility. A high level of involvement is characteristic of organizations that do a lot to ensure that employees feel their personal contribution, personal responsibility for achieving success. For the forensic science laboratory, this is especially important due to the critical importance of the tasks it faces. At the same time, employees’ understanding of the level of responsibility of organization and their personal sphere of responsibility in it can serve as an additional catalyst for responsible behavior in comparison with organizations in the business sector.

Critical Analysis. Significance of the Problem

Recently, much has been said about the search for ways of interpenetration, symbiosis and synergism in the field of scientific knowledge. This fully applies to the problems of forensic medicine as an applied science, as well as its practical component, since the subject of forensic medicine is, first of all, expert activity in the context of changing legal state and public relations. The integration processes of scientific knowledge represent the future basis for the further development of forensic science and expert activity.

As for the issues of theory and practice in the field of forensic medicine, then, obviously, their solution will be associated with the successful implementation of achievements in the field of biophysics, biochemistry, computer and information technologies, as well as robotics with the aim of developing rational and scientifically based methods and techniques of expert research along with traditional general scientific research methods.

In connection with the foregoing, the need for the application of the concept of a self-learning organization and the exchange of knowledge in the forensic medicine and crime laboratory Center under consideration is obvious. Given the fact that the Center’s employees were trained in the USA, this seems rather promising. Nevertheless, the process of change has not been without resistance to change.

Despite the fact that the international standard ISO/IEC 17025 improves the image of laboratories, not all employees welcomed the implementation of this standard ‑ more precisely, clearly defined procedures and processes related to its implementation. There was an opinion that business practices are not suitable for use in the field of public services, and especially judicial or law enforcement activities.

To overcome resistance to change, the six above-mentioned employees who were trained in the USA were involved in the activities of change agents, and they eventually managed to convey to all employees the idea of a new government. Quasi-market and business-oriented management of public sector entities is based on the following assumptions (Raadschelders & Vigoda-Gadot, 2015):

  1. There are no significant differences between the public and private sectors, and, therefore, public and private organizations can be managed more or less the same;
  2. With a new management organization, it is necessary to move from evaluating the effectiveness of the management process to evaluating the effectiveness of the management result, and therefore, to reduce costs and increase the profitability of state organizations. The assessment of responsibility changes: there should be a transition from control at the entrance of the organization, from an assessment of bureaucratic procedures, rules and standards to quantitative measures characterizing the result of activities;
  3. New management of the public sector and the public sector as a whole should be accompanied by a decrease in the role of managerial control at the same time as the development of improved reporting, monitoring and accountability mechanisms;
  4. Public administration in the organization of public services should give priority to private business, competitive procurement and the contract system. At the same time, it is necessary to move from traditional long-term and poorly specified contracts to short-term and more specific ones;
  5. The attitude towards the consumer of public services implies market characteristics. The consumer is treated as the buyer of public services with all the ensuing consequences (Raadschelders & Vigoda-Gadot, 2015).

Thus, a market model of behavior is considered acceptable for civil servants of all levels. The motivation and assessment of their activities are built by analogy with participants in market operations. The very structure of public sector management organization is likened to the structure of business organization. New public administration should be entrepreneurial; the attractiveness of this concept is due to the combination of a wide range of ideas in it that can be selectively used by governments of various countries, promising as a result the achievement of two fundamentally important goals: reducing costs and the accountability of politicians and officials.

However, due to the fact that during the planning and implementation of changes scientific models of change management were not involved, the process of changes was carried out according to the “common sense” method. This also led to difficulties in accepting changes by personnel and their adaptation on a whole laboratory scale. Nevertheless, the changes and the implementation of the quality management system were successfully realized, although with a noticeable time lag, lagging behind the planned schedule, and the need for constant adjustment of the difficulties arose.

The initial rejection of new managerial concepts is associated, in particular, with the traditional Arab model of governance, which is largely strictly hierarchical and paternalistic (Al-mijrab et al., 2019). If we talk about the curve of resistance to changes, the duration of the sections of rejection and resistance significantly exceeded the length of the “constructive” segments of analysis, search for benefits and acceptance.

About 15 years ago, experts from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published an updated standard, ISO IEC 17025: 2005, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, which is still relevant. Studies show that certification of laboratories for compliance with the requirements of this document significantly increases the level of customer confidence in them.

In particular, the study was conducted by Liter Meter from the UK. Engineers and technical managers of a number of enterprises from the oil, gas and processing industries participated in it, whose activities are somehow related to maintaining the safety, operation and accurate calibration of complex industrial equipment (Doyle, 2018). The certification procedure for compliance with the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 standard is not passed by all testing laboratories, with the exception of laboratories for which calibration is a non-core field.

The survey showed that 75% of respondents will be confident in the correctness and reliability of the test results and the calibration of complex industrial equipment only if they are carried out by a certified laboratory. Most of the respondents also agreed that certification for compliance with the requirements of well-known standards helps to improve the image of the laboratory and increases customer confidence that this laboratory is able to provide quality services (Doyle, 2018). As a result of the study, increased attention was paid to the efficiency and quality of the services of testing and calibration laboratories (Doyle, 2018). Thus, quality management system itself represents competitive advantages of a laboratory, all the more so forensic one.

The ISO/IEC 17025 standard consists of five sections: scope, references to regulatory documents, terms and definitions, management requirements and technical requirements. The most important of these are management requirements and technical requirements. Management requirements are primarily associated with the operation of the laboratory, as well as ensuring the effectiveness of the quality management system.

Technical requirements cover factors that determine the accuracy and reliability of laboratory tests and calibrations (Olivares, 2017). Both directions are extremely important; however, the implementation of the technical part of the requirements was carried out ahead of schedule and more smoothly than the managerial part, which is connected, as mentioned above, with the lack of a specific model for managing changes during their implementation.

Thus, it is obvious that in order to avoid the negative consequences of resistance to changes, priority should be given to the choice of a scientific model for managing change, with analysis and application of best practices, since effective management and a culture of participation are able to “automatically” accelerate adjustment of technical factors according to those required by ISO/IEC 17025 standard.

Conclusions in Frames of Possible Interference

As already noted above, in the case under consideration, the process of planning and implementing changes was carried out according to the “common sense” method. However, the implementation of organizational transformations can be evaluated differently by the management of the organization and its employees. Therefore, at the stage of conceptual studies, it is necessary to anticipate and take into account the possible reaction of employees to expected organizational changes. As a result of this, a system of measures is being formed aimed at overcoming the possible resistance of human resources to organizational changes.

At the same time, the main difficulty in implementing the changes is to change people’s behavior. As practice shows, changing people’s behavior is not obtained through analysis that can change their thinking, but rather by helping them to know the truth that will affect their feelings. The chain “see – feel – change” is more effective than “analyze, think through, change.” The difference between understanding and analysis, sensations and reason solves almost everything, since we tend to use the emotional more often, successfully and with much more pleasure than the rational. Achieving the necessary understanding and acceptance is possible with a competent step-by-step strategy of changes in accordance with Kotter’s 8 steps.

Kotter’s approach is based on the idea that change in relationships is the most effective path to organizational change. For decades observing organizations trying to make changes through the implementation of programs (implementing quality management programs, reengineering, restructuring, optimizing business sizes, improving corporate culture, etc.), Kotter concluded that the change process takes place in several successive stages, presented below (Harvard Business Review, 2011). Violation of this sequence or refusal of any of them leads to the illusion of rapid change, but leads away from the desired result.

  1. Create an atmosphere of urgent action (having studied the situation, the position of the organization; identifying and analyzing real and potential crises, favorable opportunities).
  2. Form influential teams of reformers (by combining the efforts of influential employees, agents of change; encouraging the activities of members of the formed team).
  3. Create a vision (creating an image of the desired future in order to increase the activity of employees; developing a strategy for achieving a vision).
  4. Advocate a new vision (using the availability of exposition, metaphors, analogies, examples of models of the new behavior of the reformer team).
  5. Create conditions for the implementation of a new vision (removing obstacles blocking new behavior; changing structures and responsibilities that contradict the new vision; encouraging creativity and risk aversion).
  6. Plan and achieve immediate results (planning the required first steps; rewarding and promoting the first successes).
  7. To consolidate the achievements and expand the transformation (creating an atmosphere of trust in new approaches; changing personnel and conducting personnel reshuffles; disseminating successful experience throughout the organization).
  8. Institutionalize new approaches (formalizing rules of behavior; building the relationship between results and rewards; creating development conditions for new qualities of employees). Unfortunately, blindly following the indicated sequence of steps is unlikely to succeed, because the transformation of the organization is a very complex process that cannot be squeezed into the framework of any sequence of actions.

From consulting practice, we can distinguish a method of applying the Kotter method for the case under consideration. This method is often used by CEOs and managing owners (Pollack & Pollack, 2014). In the case when the first leaders see a certain problem, an opportunity, but are not ready to independently lead the work on it, they try to attract attention by creating the need. One or more of the employees begin to take the initiative and, if there is a union in the group of reformers, then the initiative takes the form of a vision or a goal. Thus, a direction is set for joint efforts in which employees who have shown leadership qualities act as a driving force.

If employees trained in the United States were involved as agents of change already at the initial stage, this would achieve an acceptable level of involvement of all employees and reduce resistance to change to a negligible level. In this case, the resistance curve to changes would change its shape, bypassing the rejection stage. In addition, the use of the Kotter model makes it possible to smoothly integrate training into the process of change. Particularly effective in this case will be learning by the Kolb method, as this will enable self-reflection, the accumulation and consolidation of experience in the learning process and the simultaneous passage through the corresponding stages of change.


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