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Teleological Theory of Organizational Changes

The demand for change occurs when an organization faces the need to adapt to the shift of the external environment. A change is required in other cases as well, such as if the current structure of an organization prevents it from achieving a specific goal. There are different types of modifications that can be implemented by leaders, such as new policies or legislations. Moreover, researchers identify different development theories, including teleological, dialectical, evolutionary, and life-cycle (Burke, 2009). The aim of this paper is to discuss the teleological argument while using the Joint Commission as an example of how and why organizations make changes.

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It is important to note that the core of this theory lies in the philosophical doctrine of teleology, hence the name. This theory implies that an organization implements changes to achieve goals. Moreover, other researchers mention that this approach “is the widespread view among strategists” (Shvindina, 2017, p. 77). Furthermore, if leaders actively respond to such a necessity, it means that an organization is productive and flexible. According to studies, “teleology focuses on the activities involved in the change process that implies development towards an outcome, in an envisioned state, assuming equifinality to achieve a goal” (Sune & Gibb, 2015, p. 4). In other words, the change continues until a particular objective is reached in the final state.

However, even if the purpose was fulfilled, nothing stops an organization from creating new goals and strategies. As long as there is a constant need for something new due to external circumstances, an organization will experience dissatisfaction, which can be used as a reason to set new goals. As a result, the process of an organizational change can be ongoing. Ultimately, the leadership factor is vital for the concept of teleological theory since the heads of organizations are responsible for establishing the objectives. For this reason, their participation is essential in organizational changes.

The changes that are conducted in the Joint Commission (JC) can be interpreted as teleological. First of all, it is a non-profit organization that approves medical organizations and programs. The Joint Commission provides national standards for healthcare and makes sure that every medical organization meets these requirements. The set of goals of JC can be considered broad since it works with hospitals, hospices, clinical laboratories, etc. However, the main purpose of the organization is to guarantee that all these facilities are capable of providing high-quality healthcare.

One of the cases, where the organization conducted changes, is the policy update, which was carried out in October 2016. The modification altered “the process of notification changes within accredited organizations” (“Notifying Joint Commission Organization Changes,” 2020, para. 1). In the previous years, in cases of structural reforms, organizations were supposed to notify the Joint Commission within 30 days. Nonetheless, since specific changes required a thorough monitoring by the JC, the new policy demands that before implementing changes, the accredited organizations must send a written notification. After the Joint Commission receives it, the organization contemplates and approves the change.

Such an update can be applied to the teleological theory since that change helps to achieve the primary purpose of the Joint Commission. As was mentioned earlier, the goal is to ensure that they provide healthcare at the maximum of their abilities. The control over the accredited organizations provides such an opportunity. In conclusion, it would appear that the theory can effectively explain the need for organizational changes and the ways they can be implemented.


Burke, W. W. (2017). Organization change: Theory and practice. SAGE publications.

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Shvindina, H. O. (2017). Leadership as a driver for organizational change. Business Ethics and Leadership, 1(1), 74-82.

Notifying Joint Commission Organization Changes. (2020) The Joint Commission. Web.

Sune, A., & Gibb, J. (2015). Dynamic capabilities as patterns of organizational change. Journal of Organizational Change Management. 28(2), 1-19.

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