Analysing adaptation or a planned innovation (Ely and

Analysing
management and organisation through film: A critical discussion of
Organisational Change and Resistance & Misbehaviour in the film Made in
Dagenham

This essay presents a critical exploration of management theories of
organisational change, and resistance and misbehaviour drawing
reflections from the film “Made in Dagenham” which was released in 2010. The film,
describes female workers, in a male dominated car manufacturing company (Ford
Dagenham) with over 55,000 men in 1968 and only 187 women working at the Factory,
who in their view are unfairly treated by the management. The film exemplifies
the variations in remuneration between men and women for similar works
witnessed in the traditional working contexts defying the concept of ‘Equal Pay
Act’1.
The “man”2
is portrayed as not only possessing the power to make decisions impacting the
women on household and organisational levels, but also enjoying higher wages
for equal tasks. The essay commences with an introduction of the reasoning
behind the film and then reviews related studies on the two topics to reconnoitre
the understanding, from diverse perspectives, of the core concepts by use of excerpts
from the scenes. The essay then draws a conclusion in form of a summary of main
insights and implications.

To adopt, integrate and effect changes in an organisation, managers
alter a majority of the organisation’s extant features such as the structure,
culture, strategies, operational methods and technologies in a process referred
to as organisational change, which can either be continuous or befall for
distinctive epochs of time. Organisational change can be construed based on two
central viewpoints; an environmental adaptation or a planned innovation (Ely
and Meyerson, 2000: 104). The environmental adaptation presents change as a customary
progression process, while planned innovation portrays it as a deviation from
the norm. Under the planned innovation approach, features such as strategic
choice, decision making and organisation development may find their collocation
whereas under the environmental adaptation approach, these aspects may follow
contingency and chaos theories. Todnem (2005: 373) postulates that standard
procedures, programmes and routines provide and ensure stability in an
organisation and organisational change emanates from the changes made in these
standards. The planning process discloses the need for strategies, whether new
or improved, which are then mirrored in changes to tactical and operational
policies. Formulating a new organisational policy or modifying the existing
ones occasions changes that may affect a single employee or the whole
organisation depending, of course, on the scope of the change. As such, any
upgrades to processes and control systems will possibly encompass changes to
employees’ assigned responsibilities and performance evaluations, which demands
astute change in management abilities to execute (Battilana et al., 2010: 424-426). Battilana’s
argument is illustrated in the film where the management refuses to acknowledge
the demands by the female workers (minutes 04:50 “reduce the wage gap between
our salaries and men’s3…reverse the decision to regrade us
unskilled”), which could have culminated to a form of change in remuneration
and female workers’ organisational status.W1 

There are numerous sources of organisational change (Tidd et al.,
2005:6), which can be either internal or external. The external sources
comprise social, economic, technological, political and legal aspects of an
organisation. Economically, changes in taxes and tariffs as well as the variation
in the operational cost may occasion an organisational change that may cut
across all sectors of a country. Similarly, the legislature in conjunction with
the legal bodies may make and effect regulations governing the operations of
organisations as well as dictate the organisations’ ability to access resources,
by for instance amending borrowing and lending regulations, which automatically
necessitates organisational change as these organisations try to adopt and
adapt to the new or amended regulations. W2 Technological advancement compels organisations to alter their
operations so as to sustain quality of their products and services. All these
aspects may give rise to conditions deemed unfavourable to a section of staff
of an organisation such as variation in remuneration, laying-off or even
overtime extension, culminating in the manifestation of internal sources of
change as exemplified by industrial action,which is termed by Contu (2008:365-367)
as resistance to organisational
change, and as well reflected in the film’s minute 28:35 where the female
workers effect an industrial action.W3 

The process of managing change steers the minefield of acronyms,
slogans, concepts and values associated with change management in addition to
explaining the fundamental concepts and hypothetical methodologies and their
practical application to organisations. Jaffee (2001: 17-18) asserts that
change can be effected by the management or pushed for by dissatisfied employeesW4 . In addition, Graetz et al 92006:65) W5 postulates that planned change is procedural and systematic
and involves steps like recognising need for change, identifying potential
sources of resistance, setting overall objectives and vision for change,
enthusing people and creating their involvement and finally evaluating and
supporting change. Illustratively, the film portrays the female workers as
procedurally following this process to demand for improved working conditions
at Ford’s Dagenham factory. Led by Rita, the machinists4recognise “being regraded unskilled” and ‘poor wages” as necessitating change,
identify industrial action through a vote,(minutes
05:10 “You gotta vote……an industrial action”) as
the mechanism, and in their own involvement enthuse other people and
institutions such as the Workers Union and Labour Organisations. Through their campaign
(minute 30: 36 “..all the workers of the world should unite” and minute 42:58
“… same rates of pay as the men”), they catch the attention of even the company
owner Mr. Ford and the state authorities, which ultimately aids the meeting of
their demands.W6 

Change in every context is faced with resistance and misbehaviour as
the primary obstacles.W7  In
an organisation, the call for change can originate from either the management wishing
to alter or improve the organisational structure, culture, strategies,
operational methods and technologies, or a section of dissatisfied employees on
the basis of poor working conditions or misrepresentation (Cummings and
Worley, 2014: 102).W8 The duo avers that organisations are systems of governance based on
rules which are manifested through procedures, ethical codes of conduct,
decision making processes, and informal enforcement. In spite of these rules
and the measures erected to enforce them within the organisation, employees
sometimes ‘behave in a way that can be labelled as either intentionally deviant
or deliberately dysfunctional’ (Harris and Ogbonna, 2008: 78).Thomas and Davies
(2005: 714-716) postulate that resistance entails reforming a society or an organisations
in order to achieve gender equality especially in aspects of remuneration and redistribution
of responsibilities. The extensive body of literature on ‘women in organisation’
emanates from this viewpoint, focusing on ways in which women can ‘break through
the glass ceiling’.5 Chreim
(2006: 112) avows that practically, organisational behaviour, (seen as
following of set rules) typically comprises organisational misbehaviour
(breaking rules), is required in order to essentially get the work done. Putting
the above into consideration, Chreim concludes that resistance and workplace
misbehaviour are present in all organisations as evidenced in the film by the
resistance of female workers where they protest the organisation’s status quo (minute
42: 33… “That’s how we’ve always done it”) referring to women not going into
strike despite getting paid less than their male counterparts. The decision by
the machinists not to work overtime and “an immediate 24-hour stoppage” is considered
misbehaviour by the management (minute 42: 33 …aggressive disregard for the existing
complaints procedure”.

Ackroyd and Thompson (2015: 185) present that the causes of
resistance and misbehaviour in an organisation take various forms, can manifest
either from the managerial or the workers perspective and are evident in all
echelons of the organisation and amongst all staff; ordinary employees and
management alike. The ordinary employee resists and misbehaves when they feel that
they have been unfairly treated (remuneration and compensation) or
misrepresented. On the other hand, the management resists when they feel that
the demands by the workers contradict the organisation’s long-term objectives
and by meeting such demands, the organisation will financially be ‘injured’. In
most cases, however, employees remuneration systems are affected at the
expenses of achieving long-term organisational goals as posited by Ackroyd and
Thompson(2015: 185-186) that professional and managerial misbehaviour is always
overlooked at the expense of ordinary employees; and managerial misbehaviour
often results to costs that undermine what ordinary employees do. In the film,
the norm has been that men take precedence over women especially in matters
compensation. Ford’s remuneration structure is based on the assumption that men
should not earn the same as women, expertise notwithstanding, and the
simplicity of this bargain has always been the bedrock of a majority of
organisations in the 20th century. The machinists defy (minute: 20:
10 “…the formal grievance procedure already in place…”) this state of affairs which is
termed as misbehaviour by the management. W9 The Organisation’s boss, Mr. Ford, is concerned that if they give in
to the machinists’ demands at Dagenham, the entire workforce in all the
countries that the company has subsidiaries will strike and demand the same
which will have devastating financial impact on the company (minute 57:31 “if
these women get what they want, we’ll end up having to do it right across the
world”).W10  For such skirmishes not
to escalate and negatively affect the operations of an organisation, it is
advisable to devise ways to overcome organisational resistance and misbehaviour
since a loss to the organisation impacts the economic aspects of individual
employees, the society and the entire country.

Overcoming resistance and misbehaviour
in an organisation requires understanding organisational change as moving from
the known to the unknown (Cummings and Worley, 2009: 165) and since no matter
how logical meeting the demands of a section of dissatisfied employees may seem,
the management rarely effects such a decision, and dialogue may prove to be the
only sure solution to workplace-related grievances. A majority of stakeholders
in an organisation usually do not support change unless there are compelling reasons
to do so. According to Hon et al. (2014: 921), organisations have heavily invested in the status quo and are resistant
to changing it in the face of indeterminate future advantages and hence a
strategic issue in planning for action lies in motivating commitment to organisational
change which involves creating readiness for change as well as overcoming
resistance to change. The former entails revealing inconsistencies between
current and desired states and communicating dependable positive expectations
to the change while the latter encompasses empathy and support, participation and
involvement as well as communication. Since resistance is always evident in
presence of uncertainty in consequences, effective communication reinforces the
efforts employed in advocating for change by reducing speculations and unfounded
fears. Organisational members are currently W11 updated, through
especially meetings, on the progress of their efforts and contributions. On the
same note, Cummings and Worley (2009: 167) state that among the most effective
approaches to overcoming resistance is involving organisation members sharing a
common interest through participation and involvement. This increases the
commitment of individual members to advocate for change since in so doing,
their interests and needs are met as evidenced in the film, where collectively,
the women attend the convention held by the union for male workers, who after Rita’s
short speech decide to support the women in their course, and later seek an
audience with the Secretary of State Employment and Productivity, Mrs Castle.
This has numerous impacts on the organisation and the country alike.

Although it is possible to effect
change amidst resistance and misbehaviour by following the formal complaints procedures
that entail formally finding solutions to employee versus organisation
problems, the impacts emanating from the resistance and misbehaviour affects
the stakeholders across board whether directly or indirectly (Elving, 2005:
129-132). To individual employees, the impacts mainly take the form of loss of
employment and ultimately loss of income while to the organisation,
manifestations of organisational resistance such as walkouts and strikes have a
direct impact on its productivity with an eventual effect on profitability.  The state experiences such effects through
balance of payments emanating from a country’s low output, which in turn
translates to low exportation and hence low foreign income. All these impacts
are also epitomised in the film where at individual employees level, the male
workers temporarily lose their jobs. At organisational level, the Ford
Company’s output and profitability were adversely affected while at national
level, the ministry of Employment and Productivity reports 26,000 strikes in
the United Kingdom in less than a decade with a resulting loss of 5 million
working days and, as the management claims, a national massive loss of job
(minute 98:14 “…40,000 people …”). The eventual impact, however, is a “…pay
rise of 92 per cent of the male rate” and a promise of the UK’s government
adoption of the American Equal Pay Act of 1963.6

In
conclusion, the essay has analysed the film W12 through the managerial
operations in organisational change and resistance and misbehaviour resulting
from the friction between maintaining the status quo and introducing and
adopting new changes by both ordinary workers and the management. By using the
film to critically analyse the sources, process of and barriers to
organisational change and ascertaining organisational resistance and misbehaviour
as the primary obstacle, and then identifying the causes of organisational
resistance and misbehaviour, the essay has highlighted the impacts of such
practices at individual employees’, organisational and national levelsW13 . The most notable aspect
of this essay is the elevation of the women’s social and organisational status
in the last decades of the 20th century supporting the statements by Karl Marx
that “Progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex”. W14 Clearly, although the
setting of the film is primarily a plant in Dagenham in the mid and late 20th
century, it contextualises important issues around organisational change, and
resistance and misbehaviour that are relevant in modern organisations

1The Equal
Pay Act is a United States labour law enacted in 1963to amend the Fair Labour Standards Act,
which was aimed at obliterating wage difference based on gender.

2 The “man” symbolises the male workers, the management and, the
union and labour commissions that are dominated by men in the film.

3 The concept of the ‘Equal pay
for similar work’ had not reached the United Kingdom and male workers still
earned more than female workers (see Gender pay gap)

4Machinists refer to the female workers
specifically at Dagenham tasked with making car seats. The two terms are in
this essay used interchangeably with women, otherwise
referred to as ‘the girls’ minute 19: 59

5 See Brewis and Instead, 2004.

6 Minute 105:38

 W1I can’t quite get the point (how the film corroborates Battilana
assertion)

 W2Can you also give the example of Equal Pay Act and its implication
(briefly).

 W3In the film, female workers are championing organisational change,
not resisting change. Since you have already talked about external sources of
change, now talk about internal sources of change. You could list various
internal sources of change (including industrial action). Then give an example
from the film-women workers are seeking to bring about change (equity in
remuneration) through industrial action.

 

 W4Say for instance the film illustrates change being driven by women
workers who are dissatisfied with inequities in remuneration.

 W5????

 W6Excellent!

 W7You need to bear in mind that the film presents a case where
resistance and misbehaviour is leading to change, not blocking change. So, after
this first sentence, say:

Paradoxically, resistance and
misbehaviour are also sources of change

 W8To avoid repeating what has already been said in the preceding
paragraph, say:

As earlier mentioned, the call for
change in an organisation can originate from….

 W9Firstly, this is repetition of what has already been said in an
earlier paragraph. Secondly, this should not be about what the management
thinks. It should be about what this actually is. Rather than saying “which is
termed as misbehaviour by the management”, you should say “which amounts to
misbehaviour”.

 W10Which means that other than subsystem
change, organisational change can be organisation-wide.

I read about this classification in
one of the files provided by the customer, under the title “nature of change”

 W11Delete this word

 W12The aim of the module is to analyse two topics through film, not the
reverse.

 W13This is not a conclusion. Rather, it is a summary. There is a
difference. A conclusion should highlight the main SPECIFIC findings.

 W14Do not introduce new ideas in conclusion