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   Course Title    Organizational Development and Change Management
Lecturer    Martin Mikláš
Institution    Comenius University, School of Management
Country    Slovakia



“Change is inevitable, it is constant, it is everywhere. Change is a necessary condition of survival.” Change is one of the hot organizational topics.


One of the reasons why most change programs fail is the human factor. They fail because leaders can’t handle change properly and because people resist. People resist, because they don’t understand, they don’t know, and they are not involved. The knowledge and skills in change management are critical not just for top managers and change agents, but for all employees. The higher awareness of change principles within an organization, the higher probability for change effort to be successful. Through a better understanding of why, who, when and how to change, employees might be more supportive to change programs. And we need each and every employee to make change happen.


The main goal of the course is to have students understand the way organizations and change work. The intention is to have students supporting rather than resisting inevitable changes facing Slovak businesses. The new approach will make their life easier as there is no escape from change.


We live the time and the region when and where the is really everywhere. It’s intensive and significant. A lot needs to be done (and changed) to catch up with the western world. Another goal for the course is to have students understand regional specifics of corporate restructuring in post-communist Central European countries.


Concluding on the goals, graduates of the course will be able to:

·        take initiative in making things happen,

·        lead organizational changes,

·        cope with change,

·        understand how change is made in Central Europe.


The syllabus is the learning contract between the facilitator and the students. We all will agree on the course content. We might even split responsibility for managing the course, for example, assign a webmaster, assign responsibility for communication with guest speakers, etc. The contract shall be signed (last page of syllabus). It will oblige us to fulfill what we have promised to each other. 





The School of Management at Comenius University is the premier business school in the country. The country needs more people understanding and being able to manage change. To manage change successfully, one needs training. This course is the training.


The course is in line with other courses delivered by the department of general and human resources management. The related courses are: Innovations management, Quality management, Strategic management, Human resources management, Effective leadership, Project management, Business ethics and some others.





There will be two sides to the course: theory and application. The theory will always be confronted with real life situations presented either through literature or personal presentations of guest speakers.


Methods used:

·        Lectures combined with class discussions

·        Individual assignments: one critical analysis and two essays

·        Team assignments: action research and learning

·        Executive dialog: hosting executives


Individual assignments


There will be 3 assignments:

·        essay on a selected topic (see topics below),

·        critical analysis of a selected paper (see papers below),

·        essay on the topic: “What shall I do to become a (more effective) change agent? Design the principles of a self-development plan.” 

All papers should be 5 normal pages long. The first essay should list at least 10 literature resources.


Essay topics:

·        What can I do to help my company change? (For those already employed.)

·        Why is it that difficult for local companies to change?

·        What is the role of consultants in the change process?

·        When does knowledge-management become a management fad in Slovakia?

·        Does it pay to write a management book in Slovakia?

·        How to motivate top managers to carry out the change program?

·        How to design management systems supporting change?

·        What are the principles for outsourcing in local businesses?

·        Why 2/3 of corporate transformations fail?

·        How to cope with resistance in specific local business environments?

·        How to develop Slovak managers more effectively?

·        Managers vs. owners – how the relationship should mature?

·        Can local managers withstand global competition?

·        What are the pitfalls of adult learning?

·        Making managers of communist bureaucrats.

·        Why do local managers fail?

·        Organizational culture – the competitive disadvantage of local companies?

·        The role of power and politics in managing change.

·        Why do local companies not benchmark?

·        Why do management fads fail?


Papers for critical analysis:

All papers are from the Harvard Business Review.

·        The human side of management, Thomas Teal, Nov-Dec 1996

·        Strategy as revolution, Gary Hamel, Jul-Aug 1996

·        Building your company vision, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Sep-Oct 1996

·        Leading change: why transformation efforts fail, John P. Kotter, Mar-Apr 1995

·        Reaching and changing frontline employees, T. J. Larkin and Sandar Larkin, May-June 1996

·        Why do employees resist change?, Paul Strebel, May-June 1996

·        What holds modern company together?, Rob Goffee ad Gareth Jones, Nov-Dec 1996

·        The ways Chief Executive Officers lead, Charles M. Farkas and Suzy Wetlaufer, May-June 1996

·        The work of leadership, Ronald A. Heifetz and Donald L. Laurie, Jan-Feb 1997

·        Strategy as a portfolio of real options, Timothy A. Luehrman, Sep-Oct 1998

·        Leadership when there is no one to ask: an interview with ENI’s Franco Bernabe, Jul-Aug 1998

·        After the layoffs, what next?, Suzy Wetlaufer, Sep-Oct 1998

·        How to kill creativity?, Teresa M. Amabile, Sep-Oct 1998

·        What makes a company global?, Bruce Kogut, Jan-Feb 1999

·        Driving change - an interview with Ford Motor company’s Jacques Nasser, Mar-Apr 1999

·        Managing oneself, Peter F. Drucker, Mar-Apr 1999

·        Competing with giants – survival strategies for local companies in emerging markets, Niraj Dawar and Tony Frost, Mar-Apr 1999

·        From spare change to real change, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, May-June 1999

·        Changing leaders – the board’s role in CEO succession, Jay W. Lorsch and Rakesh Khurana, May-June 1999

·        The right way to restructure conglomerates in emerging markets, Tarun Khanna and Krishna Palepu, Jul-Aug 1999

·        Turning goals into results: the power of catalytic mechanisms, Jim Collins, Jul-Aug 1999

·        Why good companies go bad, Donald N. Sull, Jul-Aug 1999


In critical analysis argue for the paper – you agree (min. 3 arguments) and against the paper – you disagree (again min. 3 arguments).


Action learning project


Students will work in teams of 4-5 for the clients - partnering organizations. The working problem will be selected by the companies, should be of strategic importance, and course relevant. Action research approach will be applied, when students first conduct the research to diagnose organization and then suggest and implement action(s), which will be again consequently measured by the research. Teams will work for real clients. Clients need to be willing to devote extra time to cooperate with the student teams, to talk about their real problems and to expect results from the students.


After presentation of the problem by the organization, students submit the project proposal, which once approved by the organization will be carried out. Progress reports will be submitted in the middle of the semester and final reports at the end with follow up proposals. Project results will be presented at the company to the project steering committee. Teams should work as close to internal employees as possible. They may become the members of internal project teams, take part at company meetings, etc. The goal is to attain maximum involvement. 


To get closer to real-world issues, the course alliance with another business program may be formed (ex. with WEMBA -  Weekend Executive MBA program). Graduate students will be combined with MBA students, who are business executives.


Almost everyone works harder and improves faster if he gets feedback on his performance. Every team will thus be responsible for administering its own performance evaluation system. The performance appraisal will examine each member’s contribution in 4 areas:

·        Teamwork: contributes to group performance, draws out the best from others, fosters activities moving group toward task completion.

·        Initiative and dependability: fulfills responsibilities on time and according to expectations of group.

·        Quality of output: oral and written reports.

·        Contribution to knowledge and learning: effectively understood, utilized, and demonstrated knowledge of course materials.


Individual’s performance will be evaluated at the end of the course. Each team member will evaluate all his colleagues on the team. This peer feedback and evaluation will count for 15% of the total grade. Another 15% of the team assignment will be evaluated by the course facilitator in accordance with the steering committee according to the following criteria:

·        Quality of logs and reports (originality and brilliance of ideas).

·        Integration with organization and management theory (links to course concepts).

·        Completeness of the proposed steps for implementation.

·        Creativity (in content and/or format).

·        Quality of presentation (organization of argument, writing style, and so forth).


Executive dialog


Three business executives will be invited to share their experience:

·        Slovak CEO of major local company undertaking successful transformation.

·        Foreign CEO (not Slovak resident) or top manager of foreign company (from V4 country preferably).

·        Management consultant from either local or international company (preferably organizations like A. D. Little, McKinsey & Company, Andersen Consulting, etc.)





One team assignment, three individual assignments, and a final written exam will be evaluated according to the following scale:

Grade A: 100% - 90%

Grade B: 89% - 76%

Grade C: 75% - 60%

Fail: 59% and lower.


The final grade will be a weighted average percentage achieved from all three grade components, which bear the following weights:

Team assignment: 30% (peer feedback will be half of it),

Individual assignments: 30% (3 assignments, 10% each),

Final written exam: 40%


To get a credit, one needs to take part at the lectures and seminars. For each missed seminar one needs to submit one more paper.





Seminar #1: Why?!

Why change is inevitable? What are the reasons for change? What are the change drivers – both global and local? What is going on in the world and how changes are reflected within the region?


Seminar #2: Action research

Students will be motivated to spend a considerable amount of time doing the research, while working for their clients.  FM UK doesn’t provide a social research methodology course in its curriculum. As the teams need to master the social research methodology, this seminar will help students to design their business proposals (research part) for the companies.


Seminar #3: Understanding organizations

The organizational models and principles will be discussed: organizational theory, goals and effectiveness, life cycle and culture. Furthermore the management fads and their change frameworks will be discussed: TQM, BPR, turnaround management, learning organizations, knowledge management, etc.


Seminar #4: Organizational diagnosis

The initial step in managerial problem solving is problem and opportunity identification. To correctly diagnose the problem is to solve half of the problem. Jay Forrester said: “While most people understand first-order effects, few deal with second- and third-order effects. Unfortunately, virtually everything interesting in business lies in fourth-order effects and beyond.” Organizations are quite complex systems and many times it is not easy to understand the ultimate source of the problem. But there are the tools: organizational models, frameworks for analysis and how to conduct organizational audit will be discussed at this seminar.


Seminar #5: Change process

Change has its dynamics. The 5Ws of change will be answered at this seminar (Who, When, Where, Why and hoW). What are the organizational structures for delivering change? What are the steps in the change process, what milestones to plan? How change really works?


Seminar #6: Change toolkit

The individual strategies for change will be the subject of this seminar. They will be categorized, explained, analyzed and discussed. The following strategies are examples: outsourcing, downsizing, delayering, benchmarking, BPR, training and development, performance appraisal systems, compensation systems, teambuilding, work redesign, M&A’s, divesting, cutting costs, etc.


Seminar #7: Other change infrastructure

The closing seminar on change management theory. The final components will be discussed: power and politics, resistance, leadership and change agent.


Seminar #8: Management development

When it comes to the question who is responsible for managing organizations and their effectiveness, one answer is obvious: the management. Local managers have serious discrepancies compared to western managers. Unless they develop, one can’t expect organizations they manage to develop. Management development is thus a major critical success factor to organizational development. How to develop managers and what are the specifics of Slovak managers will be discussed.


Seminar #9: On the future of organizations

New theories and forms of organizing are emerging almost constantly. What are the emerging trends affecting organizations (learning organization, virtual organization, knowledge management, etc.)? What are the factors determining how the organizations will look like (speed, complexity, uncertainty, autonomy, etc.)?


The rest of the seminars will be external speakers and presenting students’ projects.





The official course textbooks

·        Cummings Thomas G., Worley Christopher G. (1993): „Organizational development and change“, West Publishing Company (fifth edition)

·        Handy Charles (1994): „Understanding organizations“, Penguin Books


Recommended readings

Hammer Michael, Champy James (1993): „Reengineering the corporation“, Harper Business

Kanter Rosabeth Moss (1989): „When giants learn to dance“, Routledge

Boston Consulting Group (1998): „Perspectives on strategy“, John Wiley and Sons

Nonaka Ikujiro, Takeuchi Hirotaka (1995): „The knowledge-creating company“, Oxford University Press

Chawla Sarita, Renesch John – editors (1995): „Learning organizations“, Productivity Press

The Drucker Foundation: (1997): „Organization of the future“, Jossey-Bass Publishers

Drucker Peter (1993): „Managing for the future. The 1990s and beyond“, Plume Penguin

Kets De Vries Manfred (1995): „Organizational paradoxes“, Routledge

Cooper Robert, Sawaf Ayman (1996): „Executive EQ – Emotional intelligence in leadership and organizations“, Perigee Business

Peters, Waterman (1982): „In search of excellence

Senge Peter M.: „The fifth discipline. The art and practice of the learning organizations“, Doubleday Currency

Kirby Philip J, Hudges David (1997): „Thoughware – Change the rethink and the organization will change itself“, Productivity Press

Tushman Michael L., O’Reilly Charles A. III (1997): „Winning through innovation“, Harvard Business School Press

Hambrick Donald C., Nadler David A., Tushman Michael L. (1998): „Navigating change“,Harvard Business School Press

Mintzberg Henry, Quinn James B., Ghoshal Sumantra (1999): „The strategy process“, Revised European edition, Prentice Hall

Collins James C., Porras Jerry I. (1997): „Built to last – successful habits of visionary companies“, HarperBusiness

Kozminski Andrzej K.: "Catching up? Organizational and management change in the ex-socialist block"; State University of New York Press

Grove Andy: “Only the paranoid survive


and other books written by the following authors: John Kotter, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Charles Handy, Thomas Davenport, Peter Drucker, Peter Senge, Kets de Vries, Noel Tichy, Tom Peters, Chris Argyris, Henry Mintzberg, etc. They all are most renowned management thinkers.


Recommended periodicals

The following business periodicals publish works on organizational development and change management. Both  resources are leading-edge institutions:

Harvard Business Review

McKinsey Quarterly


Recommended newspapers

As political and economic news will be discussed throughout the course, it is necessary to follow both local and international news. The following resources are recommended:

Domino Fórum (in Slovak lang., politics weekly,)

TREND (in Slovak lang., economics and politics weekly)

Business Central Europe (in English lang., business and politics monthly)

The Economist (in English lang., politics and economics weekly)






To deliver a high quality course, extra funding from sponsor(s) will be necessary to cover the costs of the program (materials, travel, copy, printing, Internet, etc.).


Course web site

Syllabus, assignments, lecture outlines, links to relevant web sites, student’s works, etc. will be available at the course web site.


A Course project management manual

will be developed prior to the course. It will describe in more detail how students should approach the teamwork and projects they were assigned. The manual will describe how business proposals, progress reports, activity journals, budgeting and cost reporting, final report, follow-up proposal, etc. should look like.


Student journals (experiment)

Students should keep a journal to explore their values and to express their feelings. It will provide the instructor with insights into the level of students’ comprehension of conceptual materials. (This will be a course experiment and the use of this method will be decided prior to the course.)


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