Clayton County Library System: Challenge Project

Subject: Strategic Management
Pages: 7
Words: 2051
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD


Both public and private sector organizations embrace transformative change to enhance their success in the long term. This paper identifies and evaluates factors that inhibit or support transformative change in public organizations. Clayton County Library System is deployed as a case example. It first offers a description of the methodology that is to be deployed to arrive at a substantial inference about Clayton County Library System, including the statement of its missions and identification of stakeholders (McVea, J. & Freeman, 2005, p. 58). This information helps in forming the fundamental background for the analysis of the organization.

Description of Methodology

A case study analysis in the context of the existing literature on organizational management is deployed as the main methodology for research. The research is designed as secondary research. Hence, challenges of secondary research and case studies such as the inability to generalize research implications to general organizations are unavoidable. The paper uses the complex adaptive system (CAS) perspective as the framework for analysis. Clayton County Library System comprises one of the biggest public library systems in Georgia (Taylor, 2013, Para. 1). It offers research and learning services to all citizens who reside in the state.

The system has six main elements located in varying local communities such as public internet computer services, children’s computer services, wireless internet services, legal workstations, online driver training, and interlibrary loaning services (Clayton County Library System, n.d, Para.9). Applying the information from this case organization as the representative of other organizations will be the only major limitation of this methodology.

Internal Transformative Change

Clayton County Library System aims at meeting the informational needs of various local community members and participants in various library programs (Clayton County Library System, n.d, Para.6). For instance, the organization is a member of PINES (public information network for electronic services). The network has a membership of 281 libraries that have been derived from about 140 counties within Georgia and the United States. To achieve its mission, the organization also engages in online programs that are aimed at enhancing the delivery of services to its community members.

Stakeholders in an organization encompass all people who possess stakes in its operations. For Clayton County Library, stakeholders include library users and people who are charged with its management such as the board of directors. The role of the board entails the provision of oversight, directions, and requisite guidance. In terms of the strategic planning process at Clayton County Library, the board of directors plays one of the most significant roles.

For the library, employees encompass yet another important group of stakeholders (McCauley, 2001, p. 23). They act as implementers of strategic plans established by organizational leaders. Apart from communities that are served by Clayton County Library and/or whose services must satisfy their needs, the top management constitutes an important partner for any organization. It collaborates and cooperates with the board of directors to enhance effectiveness in policy formulations.

Clayton County Library experiences several issues, which influence its performance positively or negatively. Positive issues are manifested in the organization’s strengths, which entail traits that help it attain competitive advantage (Bryson, 2011, p. 21). The library has reliable and up-to-date learning materials. The main issue here is how the organization can continuously avail current information, especially in the field of economics and social and political matters that are of significance to its clients (Weick, 2002, p. S8). In the effort to ensure sustenance of its strengths, Clayton County Library endeavors to ensure that all researchers who visit the organization acquire detailed materials that are relevant to their research topics.

With the ever-increasing number of people who are seeking Clayton County Library services, the organization has to avail resources for continuous expansion. However, currently, it has the capability for accommodating a large number of service seekers due to the availability of a big community space.

For Clayton County Library to continue expanding in the effort to accommodate the increasing clientele, the availability of financial resources is important. However, an issue emerges since the library has limited financial allocation from the government (Kemp, 2009, p. 34; Sherman, Rowley, & Armandi, 2007, p. 164). This situation hinders the attainment of its long-term goals. Another crucial issue is inadequate public relations strategic plans in a bid to guarantee the visibility of the organization, which is critical in ensuring that it achieves its missions. Kemp (2009) attributes this challenge to inadequate allocation of financial resources by the government and the lack of alternative ways of raising funds (p. 42).

Organizations may increase their performance by adopting appropriate changes in their internal environment, which include changing worker attitudes (Bar-Eli, Azar, Ritov, Keidar-Levin, & Schein, 2005, p. 14). Clayton County Library faces various internal environmental issues that are necessary for inducing and driving organizational change such as organizational structure, leadership, and culture (Knowles, 2001, p. 112).

Organizational culture refers to any shared norms, values, and ways of doing things within an organization by all its stakeholders. Teegarden, Hinden, and Sturm (2010) assert that it determines the type and nature of relationships among organizational stakeholders (p. 5). It also determines the motivation towards implementation of effective strategic plans through encouraging a teamwork culture (Olson, & Eoyang, 2001, p. 1). Indeed, any culture that hinders change by encouraging reluctance for embracing new ways of doing things in a bid to maintain the status quo constitutes a major impediment in terms of enhancing future better organizational performance.

Organizational structure determines relationships among holders of various hierarchical positions within an organization. Organizational structure aids in enhancing coordination to achieve certain goals, aims, and objectives (Bryson, 2011, p. 26; Ginter, 2013, p. 25). In the organizational structure for Clayton County Library, the board of trustees constitutes the highest hierarchical position in its management.

The board constitutes of elected citizens and other high-ranking officials. A group of senior managerial staff occupies the next hierarchical position in the capacity of departmental heads. These staff members take charge of running various branches of the organization across the county. Junior employees occupy the lowest hierarchical position with the main responsibility of implementing any strategic transformative initiatives in the organization Cristian-Liviu (2013). Hierarchical organizational management has the limitation of slowness in terms of implementation of strategic initiatives in the organization due to bureaucratic processes (p. 1692). However, in situations where the change strategic initiatives require compliance, bureaucracy ensures compliance with the direction set by strategic policy developers.

Any transformative change requires leadership. Various situations that are encountered in the daily operation of organizations require the adoption of different leadership techniques (Nartisa, Putans & Tatjana, 2012, p. 243). These techniques may include democratic, autocratic, bureaucratic, and transformational leadership. For instance, during strategic planning processes, democratic leadership is much-desired (Nartisa, Putans & Tatjana, 2012, p. 245; Free Management Library, 2013, Para. 3).

It permits all stakeholders to present their ideas freely and/or differ from the ideas raised by others. This strategy helps in the process of critical analysis of different ideas in a bid to establish the most effective strategic plan. Such a plan is consistent with the goals, objectives, mission, and values of an organization (Bolon, n.d, p. 2).

For a long time, scholars saw the world as composed of linear systems that functioned under simple rules that were driven by ‘cause and effect’ principles. In the context of Clayton County Library, this finding suggests that it can be broken down into constituent parts, which can aid in understanding it as a whole. Further developments in this school of thought led to the development of complexity theory. The theory holds that the entire world is made up of interactive systems (Knowles, 2001, p. 112).

These systems operate under some relationships and iterations due to the emergence of various challenges and patterns. It maintains that these aspects make systems complex due to the need to adapt continuously to changing environments.

The theory is an advancement of complex systems theory. Clayton County Library comprises different agents that interact in unplanned and unpredictable ways. However, following such interactions, regularity emerges, which later constitutes mechanisms of determining agent interactions. Clayton County Library’s diverse stakeholders and internal transformative environmental factors become important in ensuring the success of its strategic initiatives.

One of the essential transformative internal environmental factors for Clayton County Library is leadership. The roles of leaders in this organization entail organizing, leading, directing, controlling, and managing. Kedharnath (2011) confirms that changes in leadership approaches in an organization involve efforts to derive the most effective ways of achieving an organization’s goals, objectives, and aims through people (p. 12).

At Clayton County Library, the initial culture only allowed leaders to seek compulsion to comply with the established formal procedures, thus suggesting only autocratic and bureaucratic leadership styles were permissible. Autocratic leaders deploy strong controlling and directive actions to ensure compliance with rules and organizational regulations (Daft, 2005, p. 37).

Although this kind of leadership is necessary for Clayton County Library where the goal is to enforce compliance with the stipulated guidelines, it can create a negative perception accompanied by fear among followers. Consequently, rather than executing duties at precision to attain the organizational objectives, followers execute their roles to escape the wrath of the leader. This observation may reveal low innovation and creativity levels among employees in Clayton County Library.

Autocratic leadership approaches are a direct contrast to democratic leadership approaches. Kedharnath (2011) states, “democratic leaders take collaborative, responsive, and interactive actions with followers concerning work and work environment” (p.13). Democratic leadership permits followers to take part in decision-making processes. Clayton County Library’s strategic changes in leadership can allow followers (employees) to act in a manner that ensures the accomplishment of duties that are delegated as prescribed by customer expectations (library users). Sakiru and D’silva (2013) reveal how leaders can accomplish their roles more effectively through delegation and participation as opposed to control and enforcement of rules and regulations supports this strategic change effort (p.37).

In this account, the incorporation of all stakeholders for Clayton County Library in strategic planning processes can usher in a new approach for leading people in the effort to successfully organize work and/or use people as a source of competitive advantage.

Organizations develop their culture in a manner that ensures that all resources are allocated to ensure effective performance of systems that are aimed at attaining the demands of particular tasks (Park, Ribiere & Schulte 2004, p.113). This situation underlines the necessity of Clayton County Library to adopt an organizational culture that permits the execution of certain tasks at specified times. This strategy will force the organization to change the culture of holding employees as permanent assets if it needs to reduce its business costs as an essential strategic objective for an organization that seeks to compete successfully with other organizations that focus on cost reduction strategies in an attempt to increase performance. This strategic initiative is perhaps important upon considering that Clayton County Library encounters issues of inadequate allocation of financial resources from the government.

Clayton County Library still struggles with the challenge of the hierarchical and bureaucratic management system. This finding suggests that implementing even more demanding changes such as performance-based pay systems, as one of the approaches of enhancing organizational performance by ensuring optimal productivity of employees may present bigger challenges. Deploying performance-based pay systems entails adopting organizational change.

Unfortunately, resistance to change encompasses a major challenge that faces every organization (Dym, 1999, p. 2). Dess, Lumpkin, and Taylor (2005) reckon that resistance is a common phenomenon where changes influence employees negatively (p.83). Perhaps, this situation can hinder the establishment of regularity in interactions of various agents at Clayton County Library such as stakeholders to achieve the organization’s purpose as stipulated in its mission statement.


Complex adaptive system theory holds that the universe is composed of systems that interact in an unplanned and unpredictable manner. However, through adaptive changes, regularities occur so that agents in an organization interact in a harmonious manner. Such an interaction needs to be consistent with an organizational mission. The paper has maintained that goal requires coherent and stable interactions of both Clayton County Library stakeholders who are the most important agents for the organization in addition to various internal environmental transformative changes such as leadership, organizational structure, and culture in a bid to achieve its strategic initiatives.

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