ABSTRACT

Prescriptions defining how individual managers should manage change are informed by myths or widely-shared, but not necessarily well-substantiated, understandings. Three such myths are examined in this chapter – that managers are perceiving unprecedented turbulence, that a typical reaction to such turbulence is to minimize its impact with resistance, denial or inaction, and that the emotional experience of such externally-imposed turbulence is overwhelmingly unpleasant. Managerial responses to exogenous change were analysed in three circumstances: a field study of financial managers involved in the 1987 Stockmarket Adjustment, and in two complex business simulations. Our findings challenge the myths, suggesting that managers do not perceive, and consequently are not paralysed by, conditions of unprecedented turbulence. Rather, managers act, colluding to increase the complexity and rate of change engulfing them. Their emotional response to turbulence often is positive, particularly in the early stages of change and if they perceive a capacity to influence outcomes.