Contingency Model of Change Management: Dunphy and Stace’s Model of Change

The contingency model is an extended version of Lewin’s three step in which Dunphy and Stace (1988, 1992 and 1993), explained the process of change from the transformational organization perspective.

Dunphy and Stace (1993), put forth a situational or contingency model of change, which emphasized on the fact that organizations should vary their change strategies in accordance with the environmental changes for arriving at an ‘optimum fit’. It further discussed that organizations differ in terms of structure, processes and key values which they espouse, and it is due to these differences; the organizations may not be influenced by the similar situational variables. Dexter Dunphy and Doug Stace, through their contingency model proposed that depending upon the environment, both the managers as well as the change agents should vary their change strategies. They focus on the environmental factors as well as the forces of leadership which play a crucial role in any change process.

According to them, change can be categorized into four different types: fine tuning, modular transformation, incremental adjustment and corporate transformation. Both the authors reckoned that the change need not only happen on an incremental basis but can also take place on a radical or discontinuous basis. They equally highlighted that the transformational change could be both consultative as well as coercive in nature.

Dunphy and Stace Described 4 Styles of Leadership

  1. Collaborative Style: The collaborative leadership style attracts large scale participation from the employees of the organization in the important decisions related to the future and equally related to the method for implementing organizational change.

  2. Consultative Style: The Consultative Style of Leaders consult the employees before implementing organizational change by involving them little in the process of goal setting related to their area of expertise.

  3. Directive Style: The Directive Style of Leadership involves least participation from the employees in the decision-making process related with the organizational future, instead this kind of leadership uses authority for implementing vital decisions related to the organizational change.

  4. Coercive Style: This form of leadership exercises coercion or force for implementing organizational change on the members of the organization either by involving the outside parties or involving the managers/executives in the process.

In continuation with this, both argued that:

  • Incremental change can be more appropriate when an organization is already maintaining its best fit and require small changes in certain parameters. Hence the change need not be implemented rapidly or abruptly to ensure smooth organizational transition.

  • Transformational change can be necessary in situations when an organization is faced with a position of disequilibrium or is out of the fit, as a result of which a quick action is needed or transformational change is required for ensuring the survivability of the organization.

  • Collaborative mode of change can be more useful under situations when the target employees or the interest groups support and cooperate in the entire process of change and no oppositions are being met with in the ensuing process.

  • Coercive modes of change can be useful if at all any change faces large-scale opposition from the target interest groups.

Based on the interaction between the Scale of Change and Management/Leadership style, Dunphy and Stace propounded a model of 5 different types of Change.

Dunphy and Stace 5 Different Types of Change

The salient features of these 5 types of change are given below:

  1. Taylorism: This is the kind of change in which the change is usually avoided, and small adjustments are made. This kind of change results in lower organizational performance

  2. Developmental Transition: This kind of change is facilitating in nature as it focuses on employee development, use of TQM, improving communication and expansion of services, achieving continuous improvement in service quality and team building measures.

  3. Task-Focused Transition: This technique focuses on new techniques and new procedures, new products and services and is also based on constant reorganizations.

  4. Charismatic Transitions: As a Charismatic or a popular leader, through effective communication and development of trust or faith, the change can be implemented smoothly with the willingness of the followers associated with it.

  5. Turnarounds: This kind of change is path breaking in nature using authority or even coercion at times, sometimes it may involve considerable agony or pain as well.

Limitations of the Model

  • This model has been criticized of being Normative with only limited empirical evidence.

  • This model has been criticized due to its excess of dependency on the change drivers and the leadership style which they adopt for implementation of organizational change instead of analysing the organizational factors.


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Change Management