Book Review by Dr David Wilkinson: Managing and Leading Organizational Change (Hughes, 2019)

I was delighted to read this appreciative review of my latest textbook and grateful to Dr David Wilkinson for taking the time to write it.

In academic circles, despite the money students and university libraries invest in such texts, textbook authoring is surprisingly unfashionable. David fairly explains why such academic scepticism about textbooks exists, thankfully for myself he doesn’t bracket me in this category.

What I most appreciated in his review was that he appeared to understand the deeply embedded intent in my writing. In an ideal world organizational change theories and practices would be informed by the latest research in the leading academic journals. The danger is that we assume that this ideal is the reality, I don’t believe it is.

After decades of reading organizational change journal papers, I struggle with some of the content. In all honesty, some of it is too intellectual for me to comprehend – my bad! Other papers about organizational change leave me pondering if an organizational change is the primary interest of the author or an instrumental means to an end – publication in a prestigious journal.  My workshops and writing have largely been informed by reading journal papers, but sometimes the most useful contributions to organizational change theory and practice are not in the most prestigious journals, but instead they are in the less prestigious journals and books.

As a textbook author I see my role as a scholar, rather than a researcher. A researcher gathers new knowledge, a scholar critically interprets existing knowledge.  I explain this further in the preface of the new textbook, this preface should be freely available on the preview pages of the book on online sites.

As a scholar I see my role as acting as an intermediary between what is being written and published by trustworthy academics and student and practitioner audiences. I want to guide readers towards the more reliable and valid literature.  Also, I want to guide readers away from less reliable and valid literature. I remain troubled by the simplistic associations that the most prestigious Business Schools always offer the most reliable and valid organizational change insights.  My academic life has involved questioning organizational change knowledge. As I move into a later phase of my academic life, I now have more questions than answers, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.