Purpose - The key to success and failure in change projects may lie not in groundbreaking events or heroic gestures but in the many seemingly meaningless acts and events that occur throughout all change projects. In order to gain a better understanding of factors leading to success in change projects, the purpose of this paper is to examine insider accounts of successful and unsuccessful change projects in a non-business public context, namely the German police. Design/methodology/approach - The research can be located in the exploratory, inductive research tradition and consistent with that we used in-depth semi-structured interviews to elicit the views of 92 high potential future managers as to what constitutes a(n) (un)successful project, and what factors lead to (un)successful project outcomes. Findings - The qualitative approach adopted allows for the tracing of a range social behavioural issues identified by members of the organization as criteria to evaluate the success of projects - commitment of peers and superiors, satisfaction of members with the outcome. Identifying factors leading to project success, participants identified the following - clear communication of both positive and potentially negative outcomes, commitment of leaders, and changes in work conditions resulting from the project. Research limitations/implications - Social and behavioural aspects of change projects, which are often relegated to a secondary position behind managerial and technical aspects, should be taken into account more often in (research on) change management projects. Originality/value - The findings are based on research that explicitly integrates the mundane aspects, the daily mistakes and the routine obstacles facing those involved in change projects and suggests the value of incorporating such issues in (research on) change management projects given the spread of projects from a traditional engineering context to a variety of different contexts including, increasingly, non-profit and governmental organizations.

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doi.org/10.1108/09534810610648898, hdl.handle.net/1765/69618
Journal of Organizational Change Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Belschak-Jacobs, G, Keegan, A, Christe-Zeyse, J, Seeberg, E, & Runde, B. (2006). The fatal smirk: Insider accounts of organizational change processes in a police organization. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 19(2), 173–191. doi:10.1108/09534810610648898