Nokia Change Management & Organizational Changes


This paper is based on the argument that traditional organizational development approaches are no longer applicable in contemporary organizations. The reason is that the approaches placed more emphasis on rules, procedures, and strict guidelines in the management of organizations and organizational change. The paper proposes a shift from traditional organizational development approaches to human relations approaches which are based on situational or contingency theories of management of organizations and organizational change. The reasoning behind the shift is that human relations approaches are based on flexibility instead of rigidity.

The Contingency Approach to Nokia Management

The contingency approach to management is based on the contingency theory of management and leadership. With the contingency approach, leaders adopt different leadership styles at different times. The nature of work done and the level of skills of employees makes the leaders adopt this style. The leaders link their effectiveness to the prevailing environment. Employees are also highly motivated because the leaders focus on creating a culture of self-motivation rather than supervision (Esposito 2009).

The contingency approach may inspire a change of leadership depending on the situation because the style is based on the philosophy that organizations are unique and therefore, there is no general approach to leadership. The approach enables leaders to be flexible in their leadership and as a result, they are able to treat each situation differently which leads to the enhanced success of activities undertaken by employees.

The ability of the leaders to be flexible in their leadership style means that they are result-oriented and not bound by procedures, rules, or regulations but are free to change tact with the overall objective of meeting the set targets. Flexibility in leadership leads to increased efficiency and effectiveness making organizations increase their productivity (Bolden, Hawkins & Gosling 2011).

Since its inception, Nokia has undergone tremendous changes that have transformed it from a small rubber manufacturing company to a leading corporation in the telecommunication industry. It has remained focused on aligning its strategies and policies with the ever-changing business environment. Through the contingency approach, for example, it has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to launch a new phone with a windows application. This phone is its latest product of innovation aimed at maintaining its competitiveness (Nelson & Quick 2012).

Over the years, Nokia has realized exponential growth through the application of the evolutionary model of organizational change. The evolutionary model relies heavily on determinism in explaining the organizational change. It also conceptualizes organizational change as a linear and rational process that occurs due to forces that are internal or external to organizations (Burnes 2009). The major assumption of this model is that change in organizations depends on the situations and environments in which organizations operate. The model has its origin from the natural selection theory which was adopted in organizational change with the philosophy that change is always happening and no force can effectively prevent it from happening (Armenakis & Harris 2002).

Leadership Changes in Nokia Organizational Structure

This paper is based on the two concepts of leadership and management. It seeks to explore the relationship between the two concepts and how they affect the implementation of organizational change. It is argued that change leaders are those who lead the implementation of organizational change without necessarily being managers while change managers are those who act as managers and leaders at the same time. The author recommends the blending of the two concepts to form what is referred to as management leadership which according to him is the most applicable in the management of organizational change.

In a book titled “management”, Schermerhorn defined management as the art of getting things done through people (Schermerhorn 2010). Many organizations have policies, procedures, and guidelines that govern the decision-making process. Managers must understand how to get people to do what they are supposed to do and know what exactly gets done, the results to be achieved, and how best the results can be achieved in an efficient manner (Schermerhorn 2010).

Wart and Suino defined leadership as the ability of a person to influence other people to do things that they may not do without the influence (Wart & Suino 2012). People with this ability are referred to as leaders and are found in different settings and contexts. In an organizational context, leaders are responsible for planning, coordinating, and controlling organizational functions and activities towards the attainment of organizational goals and objectives (Sims 2007).

Both leadership and management are essential for the success of organizations because they complement each other. Leadership attributes transform managers into leaders and by so doing; the managers discharge their duties in a flexible manner. Such managers also have the ability to create a cohesive organizational culture where employees’ loyalty and motivation are greatly enhanced.

For managers to effectively get employees to do the right thing at the right time and in the right manner, Schermerhorn argued that they must be appealing to them. It should not be a matter of commanding employees on what to do or simply giving out instructions in form of job descriptions (Deresky 2002). Managers must understand that employees are social beings who have social, psychological, and emotional needs. They must also understand that employees not only work for financial gains but also for satisfaction. In this regard, leadership can help managers bond with their employees and view the tasks as a collective responsibility, not as a segmentation of jobs for various individuals. In other words, the managers must learn how to manage or lead from the front (Dowling & Welch 2008).

Since its inception, Nokia has been praised for its flexible organizational culture. Through that culture, it has been able to implement various organizational changes. The majority of the changes may be described as transformational and have been implemented through the blending of management and leadership. The recent organizational change saw the exit of Mr. Alberto Torres as the chief executive and the entry of Mr. Stephen Elop, both of whom are famous for their management leadership (Nelson & Quick 2012).

Planned Organizational Change in Nokia

The paper explains the concept of planned change and how it should be implemented to avoid cases of resistance. The author uses his long experience as a manager of a multinational corporation to offer insights on the best strategies for implementing planned organizational change. He argues that for planned organizational change to be successful, there is a need for the management to have a good communication strategy. He recommends having a strategy that ensures that information flows uniformly at all levels of an organizational structure. Failure to do so becomes a recipe for failure of the change.

The planned change falls under the teleological model of organizational change. The major assumption of this model is that change in organizations occurs as a result of concerted efforts by organizations’ leaders who see the necessity of change, plan, and execute it for the benefit of organizations. The model is perhaps the most common in the literature on organizational change. Approaches that lie under this category include organizational development, strategic planning, and organizational learning (Di Schiena, Letens, Van-Aken & Farris 2013).

Planned change is mostly associated with resistance, which is the behavior exhibited by employees once they realize that the proposed change may disrupt the status quo. The resistance may be overt or covert. However, when the resistance is not managed properly, it may turn to an open rebellion by employees who may hold demonstrations, organize strikes or engage in a go-slow in an attempt to resist the change.

Resistance to organizational change is one of the major obstacles to organizational development. The reason is that if the change is resisted, then it means that organizations either remain dormant or are rendered obsolete. Various scholars have suggested ways of managing the resistance to organizational change (Hayes 2010). One of the scholars is Kurt Lewin who wrote extensively on organizational theory and development. He proposed a three-stage theory that involves unfreezing, implementation of change, and freezing. Lewin’s approach has been used by many organizations with a high success rate and that is why it is popular in the study of organizational change and development (Hilden & Tikkamaki 2013).

In 2007, Nokia merged with Siemens to form a merger called the Nokia Siemens network. Initially, the two companies were very optimistic that the merger would be implemented without any challenges. However, things became tough when it came to the integration of the cultures of the two organizations. While employees from Siemens were used to a rigid culture, those from Nokia were used to a flexible culture.

As a result, employees from Siemens developed some resistance because they were not used to doing things their way. The managers of the two organizations also faced the challenge of working together as a team. These problems were occasioned by failure to have a proper communication strategy to inform all employees and managers about the change and how it would affect them. The problems could have been avoided by forming a steering committee for implementation of the organizational change (Nelson & Quick 2012).

Nokia Organizational Change Case Study

The paper looks at organizational change as a dynamic rather than a static process. The author seeks to explain how change is conceptualized by different organizations and how the conceptualizations lead to different results. He points out that organizational change is something that happens at all times and should therefore not be planned. According to him, the danger of planning the change is that it limits the scope of the change and as a result, the change may either succeed or fail altogether. To avoid failure of the change, he recommends a strategy of implementing organizational change based on learning.

Through learning, employees are able to come up with new ways and strategies of doing things in organizations. For them to do so, they need to be given the opportunity to micromanage their work which stimulates creativity and innovation. As a result, organizational change happens in a spontaneous manner rather than in a linear manner.

From the SWOT analysis of Nokia, one of its weaknesses is the lack of variety of brands of handsets. It is for this reason that it has not been able to manufacture smartphones like its competitors. Even though it has partnered with Microsoft to make its first smartphone of the kind, it needs to do more to ensure that it manufactures brands that suit people of different socioeconomic status.

The OD intervention strategy which I would recommend to Nokia is organizational learning, which is one of the strategies in organizational development that focuses on enabling organizations to place themselves in strategic positions so as to remain competitive and meet their objectives in a decisive manner (Crossan & Maurer 2011).

Organizational learning prepares employees for any change which may come as a result of organizational restructuring, mergers, or adoption of a certain technology. It also enables organizations to have in place very competent and reliable employees who are flexible and open-minded to handle any assignment which may come along their way in their lines of duty (Cameron & Green 2009).

For Nokia to create and sustain a learning culture, there is a need for it to, first of all, do an environmental analysis. The environmental analysis should seek answers to various questions such as where the organization is, where it wants to be in the future, what it has already done in an effort to reach there, what resources are available, what needs to be done to make the organization reach its destination, who are its customers or clients, and what are its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (Hilden & Tikkamaki 2013).

After the environmental analysis, the organization should embark on a fact-finding mission that should focus on how to utilize its human resources effectively as a means of realizing its objectives. The organization can do so through the formulation of a strategic plan with two main pillars namely the financial and the social pillars (Hughes 2010). The financial pillar should comprise the financial resources available for the organization and the social pillar should comprise the creation of a strong organizational culture which is necessary for employee motivation (Tsasis, Evans & Diamond 2013).


The paper is a critical analysis of the classical management approaches which viewed organizations using the analogy of organisms. One of these models is the scientific management approach which perceived change as a process that was aimed at restoring equilibrium in organizations. The assumption was that organizations had clear boundaries with their internal and external environments and were designed in such a way that if something threatened the status quo; managers were able to react and restore the status quo. The emergent models of organizational change on the other hand view change as a process that is a result of coordinated efforts aimed at achieving a certain objective with the objective of improving organizational processes and procedures.

Contemporary organizations are managed using the human relations approach which is characterized by a radical shift from the mechanistic to humanistic approach in the management of organizations. The humanistic approach to management is usually associated with a strong organizational culture where more emphasis is placed on improving the work environment and making employees feel appreciated (Carnell 2007).

In organizations with a strong culture, employees are perceived as crucial assets and are treated with respect, dignity, and understanding. Such organizations also acknowledge that employees have the potential of being creative in their work. Consequently, supervision plays a minimal role because employees are capable of forming group norms and rules which govern their work. Organizations with a strong culture also recognize the importance of employees interacting with their managers in a friendly way without fear of victimization.

When employees fear their managers, they tend to work with their bodies but their minds and hearts are usually far away. Strong organizational culture also boosts organizational efficiency because of the internalization of what is required of each and every employee. The sharing of values and beliefs creates a good work environment free from confusion, ambiguity, or lack of understanding among the employees (Paton & McCalman 2008).

If chief executives of organizations are not friendly to employees, then the organizations are characterized by fear and unending tension among the employees. Such a relationship may lead to confusion and inefficiency because employees are not allowed or they are unwilling to consult their colleagues for fear of victimization. The overall result is the creation of organizations with which the employees are not proud to be associated, a situation which has serious negative effects such as increased turnover, reduced productivity, and general organizational inefficiency.

From the analysis of Nokia’s SWOT, one of its strengths is a flexible organizational culture and structure. As opposed to many corporations in the telecommunication sector, Nokia boasts of a flexible culture that has enabled it to nurture talent and creativity which have lead to various innovations. Flexibility has also enabled it to implement radical organizational changes without much resistance from employees (Nelson & Quick 2012).


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