Introduction and Context
London is home to thousands of small and medium sized businesses, commonly known as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). They are a significant percentage of small and medium sized businesses which account for about 99% of all private sector businesses in the United Kingdom, as it was recently reported by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). They employ millions of British people and contribute significantly to the growth of the UK’s economy. Over the last three decades, there have been changes in contemporary management practices that have forced organizations, starting from small to larger ones to change how they operate. The concept of change management has especially changed in meaning and application in these organizations, and how it is applied in training current and future leaders and managers in these organizations has been an issue because of the shifting management strategies in the 21st century. In the UK, for example, as this dissertation seeks to establish, SMEs are reporting that they are introducing organizational change practices and strategic change management practices as the environment around them changes. The dissertation will seek to examine some of the triggers for change management in the SMEs in London, the UK, based on research from a sample of SMEs in the city. It will use a combination of primary and secondary research to explore whether they are applying the change management strategies best fit and necessary for small and medium sized enterprises to enter new markets. Data will be collected using surveys and interviews of owners, owner-managers, senior managers, and workers from about 35 SMEs in London. It is a dissertation that will especially consider the outlook these organizations have on the future as a result of the change management practices, something that will make up the research objectives and questions to be investigated.
Managing change in small and medium enterprises is a big undertaking, and one which can be handled by only a small group of individuals in these SMEs in comparison to large corporations. Small business owners may consider managing change on their own with just a few or no specialists, without departments dedicated to fulfilling the role, and with minimal budgets set aside for outside consultants. As the dissertation will explore, these are some of the research objectives/ questions to be covered and ones that can explain the challenges SMEs in a place like London face when carrying out change management in a modern, global economy. Other research objectives to be covered in the research include the role and influence of factors like the adopted change management style, the personalities of the owners and managers of the SMEs, the urgency and other closely related scenarios of change, resistance levels, and the extent of change required (Ordonez de Pablos, 2012). Others to be considered include the role that technology may play in the change management process of today among other factors to be covered in greater detail and that will be specific to SMEs based in London or ones with some form of international operation but are still based in the city.
Understanding the change management challenges and factors faced by small and medium businesses in London and how they influence their strategic decisions requires that the concept be understood in detail. Change management has been defined by different authors, researchers, management professionals, and institutions and organizations differently, but all the explanations and definitions point to how it is a discipline which acts as a guide to how organizations and their members prepare, equip and support themselves to adopt change successfully, thereby driving organizational outcomes and achieving success in an increasingly competitive environment (Granberg & Magnusson, 2017). Another look at change management defines it as the application of a structured process in addition to a set of tools by an organization to lead its people on the one hand and customers on the other through change and the change process to achieve a desired outcome (Promes, 2016). The steps managers follow to successfully implement and adopt change among their people and customers make up the change management process. It is of great importance that when talking about change management and the change management process, the context under which an organization and those talking about applying it are operation ensure that they’re talking about the same thing. This is because there tend to be different types and levels of change management, among them organizational change management, project change management, also referred to as scope management, and infrastructure change management as pointed out by the Project Management Institute (Garfein, Horney & Nelson, 2013). Organizations going through the change management process are moving from their current state to a future state they have desired and/or envisioned. There are drivers for organizational change management that depend on a number of factors and reasons.