Managing change at Sears: A sideways look at a tale of corporate transformation

  • Collins D
  • Rainwater K
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Abstract

Purpose - This paper offers a reanalysis or "re-view" of a celebrated tale of corporate transformation - the turnaround of Sears, Roebuck and Company - which was discussed in the Harvard Business Review. Noting that "contextual" and "processual" attempts to revise the tale of Sears and its transformation would tend to exchange one monological rendering for another, albeit more critical account, the paper "re-views" the case in an attempt to make space for perspectives and narratives normally edited out of narratives of change management. Design/methodology/approach - Building upon a critical review of the literature concerned with organizational storytelling the paper "re-views" the Harvard rendering of the Sears case as an epic tale. The paper then supplements this epic rendering of the Sears case with another two accounts of the case, which recast and review the tale first as a tragedy and then as a comedy. Findings - The paper reveals the polysemic nature of organization and change and suggests the need for approaches to the narration of change that can give voice to perspectives denied by both celebratory and critical accounts of change management Originality/value - The paper offers an innovative "re-view" of a celebrated account of change management and invites the reader to make room for voices and perspectives normally lost within narratives of change. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Change management
  • Storytelling
  • Transformational leadership

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Authors

  • David Collins

  • Kelley Rainwater

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