Equipment Corporation Plant: Managerial Attitudes


Digital Equipment Corporation Plant represents a unique environment marked by specific internal and external factors, culture and industrial settings. in order to give recommendations for change and redesign, it is important to analyze and evaluate the current state of affairs and possible problems affecting the management and the staff. For Digital Equipment Corporation Plant, the objective of major change, then, is the successful move toward a future state, a vision of how the organization ought to function.

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The critical in-between stage — the condition of the organization after it has disengaged from the current state but before it has arrived at the future state — is the transition state. In the most general terms, then, effective change management involves 1. developing an understanding of the current state; 2. articulating a clear vision of the future state, and 3. guiding the organization through a delicate transition period.

Current Problems

Extreme anxiety impairs normal functioning; most people become literally incapable of accurately hearing and fully integrating messages the first time around. It’s, therefore, necessary to communicate key messages two, three, four, and even five times through various media. People might participate in the early diagnosis of problems, in the design or development of solutions, in planning the implementation, or in the actual execution.

Participation can be direct and widespread or indirect through representatives. The options are varied. Regardless of the details, experience shows that some form of participation almost always outweighs the costs certain to arise later on if there’s no employee involvement at all. The transition state is typically a time when the old reward system has lost its relevance to new objectives but hasn’t yet been replaced. Consequently, people sometimes find that they’re asked to start performing in new ways but that they can be rewarded only by continuing in their old ways. In effect, the anachronistic reward system penalizes them for doing precisely those things required to make the change successful (Bratton et al 2007).

Lack of trust and communication is another problem that influenced relations and interaction between team members. Organizational architecture, if approached from a truly thoughtful perspective about the organization’s long-term growth and success, is just as complex — in some ways, even more so. While architecture rests on certain immutable laws of physics, engineering, and mathematics, the basic building blocks of organizational architecture are the intangible concepts of group dynamics and human behaviour.

Proposed Solutions

In order to introduce change in communication, production processes, motivation and training areas, Lewin’s change model will be used. it consists of three main steps (stages): unfreezing, transition and refreezing. The aim of the first step is to prepare employees for transition and inform them about coming changes (Senior 2001).


At any given time, critics suggested, the prevailing conditions within an organization can be described as the current state. In terms of our congruence model, the current state is the existing configuration of strategy, work, people, formal structure, and informal culture.

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There is some validity to both perspectives; managers engaged in redesign should keep in mind the importance of balancing both. And in order to do that, he or she needs a model — an intellectual tool for sorting out those complex interests while reconfiguring the elements of the organization. Problem-solving in any organizational situation, including design, involves the collection, analysis and interpretation of information to identify specific problems and appropriate responses (Hatch 1997).

In practice, once the work requirements are defined, managers tend to gravitate toward the formal organizational arrangements as the most obvious tool for implementing change. First, structural arrangements are substantially easier to modify than either individual or collective human behaviour. Except in new organizations, a manager usually inherits a group of people. There are limits to how extensively and quickly their attitudes, values, skills, and capacities can be changed. Similarly, there are limits on the extent to which people can be replaced or reassigned. Recruiting new people is time-consuming — and risky (Morgan 1997).

Moreover, filling major positions from the outside undermines the psychological contracts, or implicit understandings, that people have about their career advancement and job security. Even in the best of situations, significant changes in the composition of organizational groups takes a substantial amount of time. Fundamental changes in the informal organization are even more complex and time-consuming. An organizational culture takes years to develop; the more fully developed the culture, the more resistant to change it becomes, like the people it attracts and nurtures construct a tight web of shared values and beliefs (Daft, 2003; Crowther and Green 2004).


The redesign will be required to meet changes in the organization’s core work. the main changes will take place in training and career development programs, motivation and communication. Sometimes that’s the result of an altered strategy. In other situations, the work is altered by new technologies or shifts in the cost, quality, or availability of resources. A common example is the introduction of new technology in-office systems.

Digitized information changes not only the way people perform individual tasks but the information-processing relationships; the configuration of computer networks, for example, plays a major role in either erecting or erasing boundaries between individuals and groups (Crowther and Green 2004).

For Digital Equipment Corporation, the elimination of time and geography as barriers to shared work plays a major role in determining organizations’ structures and processes. Since effective organizational arrangements are designed with individuals in mind, changes in the staff — either wholesale changes throughout the organization or a small number of changes in key positions — require a rethinking of the organization design.

The most graphic examples of this occur through the natural processes of management succession. As a new manager and a new set of players come to lead an organization, the arrangements that used to fit the needs, skills, talents, and capacities of the previous team may no longer make sense. Similarly, major changes within the workforce — changes in needs, preferences, skill levels, education, and values — may also call for a substantial redesign (Daft, 2003).

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The case makes it clear that three general problems nearly always surface whenever an organization undergoes significant change. Every organization is inherently a political system made up of various individuals, groups, and coalitions that compete for power. In the transition state, the political dynamics leap to a new level of intensity as the status quo is dismantled and a new design takes shape (Bratton et al 2007). People, both individually and collectively, are likely to engage in political activity if they believe that the impending change will produce a major shift — for either better or worse — in their relative positions of power within the organization. In addition, individuals and groups sometimes engage in political resistance because the new design, strategy, or approach conflicts with their personal values or their image of the organization (Daft, 2003).

These processes coordinate workflow at Digital Equipment Corporation — the movement of products, services, and resources through the organization and across grouping boundaries — in order to create an offering of value to the customer. More and more organizations are coming to perceive product development, for example, as a cross-unit process rather than as the exclusive domain of a single department where scientists and engineers work in a vacuum to dream up new products divorced from any timely insights into market trends or customer needs.

Increasingly, product development is being seen as a continuous feedback loop, with sales, marketing, and service people working closely with the units that design, produce and distribute goods and services; it is a multidimensional process that draws on the skills, experience, and information of numerous people from a wide range of functions and disciplines. The design of product development, order fulfilment, and customer management as coordinated processes, rather than as isolated departments, represents a fundamentally new way of thinking about how organizations should be architected (Bratton et al 2007).


For those involved, the transition from the current state to the future state represents a frightening journey from the familiar to the unknown. It’s only natural that people will have a host of concerns. Will I still be needed? Will I have a new boss? How will my job change? Will I maintain my current status? Will I need to learn new skills? Will the career path I’ve been following still make sense? Before long, behaviour and job performance start to suffer. At the very least, stress impedes people’s ability to hear and integrate information about the impending change. They may engage in irrational and even self-destructive acts. More typically, they find subtle, passive ways to derail the new processes and procedures (Bratton et al 2007).

A major redesign disrupts normal activity and undermines routine management control systems, particularly those embedded in the formal organization. Digital Equipment Corporation managers begin to feel that they’re losing control. As goals, structures, and people enter the transition state, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and correct performance. Moreover, because most management and control systems are designed to maintain stability, they’re inherently ill-suited to managing periods of change.

Our experience makes it clear that there are specific things managers can do to counteract each of these change-related problems. These tactics don’t necessarily guarantee success; rather, they represent common actions taken by many of the organizations that manage effective change. First, leaders can articulate a clear vision of the future state (Bratton et al 2007). Second, they can serve as models, demonstrating through their own actions the kind of behaviour they expect of others. Third, leaders can play a crucial role by rewarding key individuals and specific types of behaviour. Fourth, leaders can employ resources and use their political influence to eliminate roadblocks and create momentum.

Finally, leaders can send important signals through their personal actions. During periods of change, their routine words and deeds take on disproportionate importance; attendance at certain meetings, the use of key phrases, subtle nuances of body language — each can send powerful messages rippling through the informal organization. The deliberate use of informal signals plays an enormous role in shaping the attitudes of others (Hatch 1997).

“Output” is a broad term that describes what the organization produces, how it performs, and how effective it is. It refers to not only the organization’s effectiveness at creating products and services or providing a certain level of economic return but also the performance of individuals and groups within the organization. There are three criteria for evaluating performance at the organizational level. Of course, the performance of groups and individuals contributes directly to overall organizational performance. But in certain situations, changes in both individual and collective attitudes and capabilities such as satisfaction, stress, poor morale, or the acquisition of important experience can all be seen as output or the results of the transformation process (Hatch 1997).

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Recommendations for Management Staff

First, managers should provide people with as much information as possible about the change before implementation actually begins. Second, some stability can be preserved — even in the face of change — if managers are careful to maintain the consistency of their messages throughout the transition period. Conversely, any perception of discord or confusion within management ranks fuels instability and strengthens the resolve of those still hoping there’s a chance to block the change. People are essentially creatures of habit; we grow comfortable with what we know, and we fear what we don’t know (Crowther and Green 2004).

Few among us are adventurous enough to step over the precipice without a fairly good reason. A critical step in managing change is therefore to help people understand why it’s in their best interests to “let go.” Managers must show people how unrealistic it is to believe that the current state is wonderful, has always been wonderful, and will remain just as wonderful in the years ahead. The goal is to “unfreeze” people from their inertia and to persuade them at least to consider the necessity of change and the possibilities that lie ahead (Daft, 2003).

As a result, it’s crucial during transition periods for managers to pay special attention to performance, pay, and promotions. In addition, there are informal rewards — recognition, praise, and special assignments, for instance — that should be carefully managed to ensure. People associate organizational change with a personal sense of loss. Inevitably, they go through the equivalent of a mourning process as they let go of the old structure. Managers need to understand and assist in this process, providing people with adequate time and appropriate opportunities to work through their institutional grieving.

It’s therefore critical during transitions for managers to construct new and focused feedback mechanisms. Formal methods may include individual interviews, focus groups, surveys, or feedback gathered during normal business meetings. Informal channels, particularly face-to-face encounters between senior managers and employees far removed from the corporate offices, are particularly useful. Finally, management can promote regular feedback by having representatives of key groups participate directly in the planning, monitoring, and implementation of the design change (Crowther and Green 2004).

The basic building blocks of Digital Equipment Corporation organizational culture are values and beliefs. Core values are expressions of what the organization believes is good (or bad, for that matter). Either you agree or you don’t; values can’t be proved or disproved. Beliefs, on the other hand, embody particular views about how the world works. They imply cause-and-effect relationships and are open to debate. Technological innovation leads to market leadership; a passion for customer service builds business; superior quality provides a strong source of competitive advantage — all are statements of widely held beliefs.

They might or might not be valid, given particular industries or competitive situations. Culture provides organization members with an integrated image of their organization. Core values, beliefs, and norms are not random. Rather, they fit together to form a larger picture of the organization and of how it should work (Morgan 1997). They provide a conceptual framework that helps individuals define their own roles and helps focus individual and group behaviour.

The problem is that, unlike strategy, work, or formal structures, which can be changed with relative speed, cultural change is difficult and takes time. While strategy, structures, and specific people may change, culture remains rooted in the organization’s past, sowing the seeds of conflict and trauma. Organizational cultures have got to adapt to changing strategies and objectives. The challenge in managing cultural change is to reinforce as many of the core values as possible, bolstering links to the past even while pruning obsolete values and adding new ones that reflect current strategic demands.

Nevertheless, the notion of architecture as a framework for organizational design and the fundamental concepts we’ve presented concerning the function, development, and implementation of design are essential tools for any manager hoping to guide an organization through this new era of perpetual change. Without those underlying ideas and guiding vision, managers are left to frantically steer an uncertain course from one crisis to the next (Senior 2001).

Essential to this concept is the idea of organizations as both social and technical systems. The process of strategic design falls heavily on the “hardware,” or technical side of the organization, and that has been our emphasis here. But we’ve also tried to make it clear that effective strategic design acknowledges and addresses the relationships between formal structures and the informal patterns of values, beliefs, and behaviour norms that make up an organization’s culture. It is the unique mixture of strategy, structure, work, people, and culture that together dictate the architecture of each organization (Morgan 1997).


Once Digital Equipment Corporation has decided that redesign is in order, it’s important for everyone involved in the decision-making process to keep in mind the various types of design decisions that must be made at different times, by different people, and with different criteria. Typically, Digital Equipment Corporation managers tend to focus on a few of the boxes and lines at the top of the organization and then treat the rest of the operation as an afterthought. In practice, there are two basic approaches to making design decisions. Regardless of how well or how systematically these decisions are made, these projects are insufficient because they ignore so much of the organization.

While there may be changes or new directions at the top, the rest of the organization is doing the old work with the old structures and processes. The results are all too common: never-ending waves of top-level restructuring that have an only minor impact outside the executive offices. This approach is advocated by many job design theorists and has been used extensively by internal staff groups within organizations.


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