The Case of Oman Telecommunications Company: Change Management

Subject: Organizational Management
Pages: 14
Words: 5200
Reading time:
21 min
Study level: PhD


Organizational change is a structure-driven process that creates the roadmap for growth. The growth and development of an organization are centered on the correlation between the objectives and the processes involved (Wolff & Frank, 2005).

Omantel is the largest telecoms operator in the Sultanate of Oman (Kathiwalla, 2012). Although the company has taken the privatization course, the Oman government still owns 70% of its shares. One of the major change processes that Omantel has been through is privatization. Privatization started when Omantel offered 157.5 million shares for sale to individual citizens, and a further 67.5 million shares to state pension funds, Sports Activity Fund, and to Oman Charitable Organization. The offers were made from June to July 2005. Recently (September 2013), the Oman government announced that it would sell part of its stake worth $574 million in Omantel (Mathew, 2013).

Due to the above undertakings, therefore, the core aim of this research will be to comprehensively gauge and evaluate how Omantel organized, carried out, and managed the change management process within itself via a variety of ways and aspects. First and foremost, the aspect of the spirituality of employees at their place of work will be extensively substantiated based on the existing change management models and facts. Furthermore, the effects of the change management process on the employees’ work attitude will be analyzed, and thus, their reaction and mode of work after the process was implemented. Finally, the soundness, reliability, and dependability of the myriad approaches that the firm deployed to execute the change management process will be brought to light to justify (or irrational) the attitude of the employees. One of the best models which will be fully deployed in trying to achieve the above-listed aims is the concept model of three. This model analytically assesses the benefits associated with the inclusion of employees, an exercise deemed to have a great impact on the success of the change process. Also, the model focuses on employees’ decision-making and management of change as the other crucial ingredients that management should never overlook if a successful change process is desired.

In line with the highlighted research aims, the research will explicitly explore the following questions: A) what exactly triggered the much-needed change management in Omantel? B) How was this change process executed? C) What are some of the sources and models of change management? Therefore, this research will focus on the factors that should be incorporated in the entire change management process to result in the desired output. This research will hence determine whether most or all of these factors were slotted in the change management process done in Omantel.

To begin with, the research will determine and scrutinize the schemes of knowledge upgrading that the firm employed in preparing its employees for the change process. Moreover, this research will establish whether the employees of the firm were well aligned to the generally considered direction of the firm before effecting the change process. Finally, the nature of communication carried out to all stakeholders will be established.

Conceptual Model

Conceptual modeling is important because it enables a person (in this case the researcher) to identify systematic relationships within different interactions in a model. As Wolff and Frank (2005, p.3) indicate, conceptual models are used to reconstruct “knowledge about the system”. This research uses the below illustrated conceptual model to indicate the effects of employees inclusion in change management.

Conceptual Model
Figure 4: Conceptual Model

As indicated in the introductory part of this research, the inclusion of employees involves engaging them emotionally and behaviorally to ensure that they have the passion, motivation, and focus to change and that they are willing to complete tasks in the change process. Employees’ decision-making in Omantel is unstructured, and as Tremmel (2007) notes, it is further challenged by ineffective business processes and unresponsive organizational structures. The foregoing notwithstanding, communication has been indicated as the main way through which managers can ensure the inclusion of employees in the change process. Communication during change should be indicative of five dimensions namely:

  1. Discrepancy: This involves informing employees of the difference between the current and desired state of the firm. In other words, communicating discrepancies enables employees to understand why change is necessary (Jimmieson, Rafferty & Allen 2013).
  2. Appropriateness: This involves communicating why the proposed change presents the best strategic choice for the company. As Jimmieson et al. (2013, p. 198) note, “employees may perceive change as necessary but do not yet see the proposed changes to be appropriate”. Through communication, the managers can understand employees’ viewpoints, while expressing their own opinions, and justifying the appropriateness of the proposed changes.
  3. Personal valence: this is a dimension that caters to the personal concerns that employees have regarding the effect that changes have on their jobs (Jimmieson et al., 2013). Communication should be assured, but honest to enable the employees to handle the changes
  4. Principal support: this dimension refers to communication in which managers should assure and/or support employees (e.g. through training) to enable them to transit well during changes. It is indicated that at times, employees resist change because they feel inadequate. The resistance can wane if managers offer assurances and support to enable employees to transit to the desired outcomes effectively.
  5. Efficacy: this dimension contains statements that enhance the confidence of the employees in overcoming challenges encountered during transitions (Jimmieson et al., 2013). In other words, employees need to be reassured.

As in the conceptual model, employees’ participation in decision-making leads to successful change management. This is possible through open communication. According to Byrne et al. (2005) and Michaelis, Stegmaier, and Sonntag (2009), open communication and disclosures lead to an effective commitment to changes by employees, since they get support from the management.

Following the above conceptual model, this research will establish whether there was sufficient communication between the management of Omantel and its employees to guarantee their inclusion in the change process and management. At the end (i.e. after employee inclusion and involving them in decision making), effective management of change should be evident or lacking in the company.

Literature Review

Evaluating the importance of change management

Change management brings with it numerous benefits that stabilize the operation of the organization. Although barriers are always lurking (Flower, 1993), a well-engineered change process will result in some of the below-highlighted benefits:

Management of organization’s crisis

When an organization is faced with turbulent moments, the only option is to effect changes to counter them. This might entail getting rid of irrelevant activities as well as correcting some of the events and processes that seem to have become fruitless. When an organization properly initiates the change process in this case, it will be spared from incurring additional expenses required to sustain the fruitless processes. For a change process to bring about suitable crisis management, it should be clearly understood by all stakeholders (Burke,1992). Concerning this, the research will determine the crisis that face organizations when they carry out privatization and change management and the measures they embrace to counter them.

External factors

With globalization, organizations in some regions produce products at lower costs compared to those in other regions (Winter & Zollo,2002). Thus, with change, an organization is able and ready to cope with such scenarios associated with globalization. The best way any organization has to deal with globalization is through understanding the regional as well as cultural disparities as far as its markets are concerned. With this kind of understanding, the organization can equip itself with appropriate knowledge which will assist it to come up with a thoroughly revised strategy to approach the markets in a new style. Therefore, this research will first ascertain the external factors that directly affect organizations then go ahead to establish if the strategies that they devise to maintain their market share. Besides globalization, other external dynamics that are worth taking into consideration are: competition; direct or indirect completion by firms producing similar goods and services, political environment; the legislation made by the government of the day concerning the operation of the businesses will directly affect their operation, for example, increased taxation which will cause businesses to raise the selling price of items due to increased cost of production, and finally variation in market opportunities which determines the number of throughputs an organization will produce in a given period.

Advancements in technology

In the recent world, change in all aspects of company operations is inevitable (Whitemore,2004), let alone change in technology. With this in mind, any organization should always be renovated and reinvented in line with up-to-the-minute technology. This move will always assist the organization to favorably compete in the market as there will be increased and efficient productivity. More so, when an organization incorporates a change in line with the latest technology, a new and fresh course of action will be devised to carry out the everyday jobs needed (Brinkerhoff & Gill,1994). This research will thus be keen to establish whether the privatization process done by organizations is a response to any advancement in technology, and the course of action that they opted for in setting up that process.

The culture of an organizational

Fundamental values, business relationships, and attitudes of employees in an organization are directly related to the firm’s productivity and efficiency. It is for this reason that many organizations opt for change. Into the bargain, an organizational culture that is effective will most likely catch the attention of many customers. It too enhances worker retention, lowers the operations costs as well as increases customer satisfaction. The most important point to note is that the executive management is entirely responsible for fostering change in an organization’s culture (Heifetz & Laurie, 2001). Besides that, it needs to ensure that all employees are incorporated in all the changes embraced towards culture change. In that respect, this research will seek to establish the culture that was present in the organization by the time privatization was being implemented.

The appropriate approach of change management

The ADKAR model is employed. The approach involves three phases. These are:

  • Phase one: preparing for the desired change. During this phase, the strategy for change management is defined. The change management team is then trained and finally, a sponsorship model is developed.
  • Phase two: managing the change. During this stage, organizations’ change management plans are developed and then proper actions are taken to implement them. Such plans could include a roadmap for a sponsor, coaching, communication and training plans, and a resistance managing plan.
  • Phase three: change reinforcement. At this phase, feedback is gathered and properly analyzed, gaps are identified and resistance managed, and corrective actions are then implemented.

It is worth noting that individual and organizational changes should be linked to achieving the desired change. Also, other models like Kotter’s 8-step change model could be used; only that ADKAR model integrates the process individually to guarantee the achievement of business goals. This research will determine the approach embraced by most organizations in fostering their change management process.

Evaluating theories of change management

This research evaluates three theories of change management official for organizations. They include Kotter’s 8-step model, McKinsey’s 7s model, and the Kurt Lewis change management model.

Kotter's model
Kotter’s 8-step model. Source: Metre (2009)

As per the model, the need for change should be established by instilling a sense of urgency. All the potential opportunities that can be exploited are thoroughly analyzed. The next step is to identify appropriate leaders and employees who will help foster the change. The created coalition will come up with values that are vital to the change process and strategize on the execution of the created vision. The created vision is then communicated to all stakeholders. The concerns of each employee are comprehensively addressed. Short-term goals are then formed to ease the effects of critics. As per Kotter, a proper analysis of the way the change unfolded should be done. This will help anchor the changes in the institution.

The McKinsey model
The McKinsey 7-s model. Source: Peters (2011).

For an organization to monitor internal changes brought about by the change process, this model is quite appropriate. The departments that need realignment so as the performance improves are identified. Also, the interrelationships of various elements are determined and thus the effect of change made in one region is carefully considered.

The Kurt Lewin’s Change Management Model
The Kurt Lewin’s Change Management Model. Source: Sligo (2009)

As per Kurt Lewin’s model, management of change is a process that involves unfreezing, internalizing, and refreezing changes (Sligo, 2009). With the unfreezing, individuals learn and practice new attitudes and values. With the internalizing phase, individuals absorb new skills, behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge, something that enables genuine change to occur in and around them (Sligo, 2009). Refreezing occurs as employees integrate the new knowledge, skills, and attitudes into their work routine.

Conceptual Framework

The extent of employees’ inclusion in the change process

According to Tremmel (2007), as a telecoms company owned by the Omani Government, most organizations have a vertical structure. This automatically suggests the way decisions are made in the firm; in a unidirectional manner. This structure is found to be extremely unresponsive in that, it hardly cares to find out what employees on the other side of the divided thing of the processes going on in the firm. Besides that, they are awash with bureaucratic resistance, and the middle-level managers are especially resistant to suggestions or changes proposed by lower-ranking employees.

For any change process to claim that it has successfully included employees, the employees must have been involved both emotionally and behaviorally to ensure that they have the passion, motivation, and focus to undergo changes and that they are willing to complete tasks allocated in the change process.

The extent of employees’ decision making process

In general, allowing employees to have their say during the change management process is quite vital. This is caused by the fact that the right decisions can only be made if the right information is provided by the management to employees. Hence, there is a need to establish effective communication strategies before and during change, to ensure that employees are not misinformed. Therefore, it would be interesting to find out if employees understood what privatization was all about, its effect on them, and how the management engaged them during the entire process.

How organizations manage the change process

Change management is a very crucial process as it is associated with a lot of benefits to an organization e.g. improvement in the entire system and customer satisfaction. In the same vein, systems that have been used have to be changed unless they become less important (hinley, 1996). Hinley goes on to add that through changes, the overall structure of a given system becomes more complex requiring more resources to offer a solution to it. Therefore, when the need for organizational change arises, managers need to focus on employees, since they (employees) are critical change agents (Wolff & Frank, 2005).

In conclusion, change managers need to realize that it is the uncertainty that comes with change that most employees are afraid of. Assuring, motivating, and informing employees through effective communication need to be at the core of effective management of change; if at all the process has to be a success.

How Individuals behave during change

Feelings can be described as the sense of touch or understanding towards a particular thing (Paulsen et al., 2005). The feelings of employees during organizational change influence the success of the process. Managers must consider several factors that could influence or change the feelings of an employee towards an organizational change (Ram & Prabhakar, 2011). The factors can be categorized into various dimensions. The major ones are the feeling of loss of control or job routine by the employees, the uncertainty surrounding the change process during organizational change, power change during change management, change in work schedules during the organizational change process, speculative or complete loss of authority by the employee during organizational change and finally misinformation and misunderstandings about the organizational change by most of the employees.

The six dimensions stated above influence employees’ feelings towards organizational change. The uncertainty during organizational change has been found to result in resistance among employees. When the employee has ill feelings about the organizational change, he or she will develop a negative attitude towards the organizational change.

Several scholars have argued that the attitudes of employees directly affect the change process. To understand the influence of attitudes on the productivity of work, scholars of management have designed a model, popularly referred to as the tri-component model (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2006). The tri-component model argues that attitudes can be explained through the cognitive component, the affective component, and the conative component as indicated in figure 5 below:

The Tri-component Attitude Model
Figure 5: The Tri-component Attitude Model. Source: Schiffman and Kanuk (2006).

Theory and human change process

This V-room Expectancy Theory suggests that employees earn motivation from what they expect in terms of rewards. The theory bases its argument on operant conditioning. Vroom expectancy theory posts that employees focus on rewards. If the reward is good, the employees put in the effort to earn it. This includes special recognition, learning, and development, involvement in making critical decisions, prompt and detailed feedback, and most importantly, listening from management.

According to this theory, if employees feel that when they perform well they will get the above-mentioned rewards, they feel motivated to perform. The theory uses terms like expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. Valence is the attachment that an employee feels towards the reward. Therefore, management should create an environment that ensures employees get specific rewards. For example, fully paid one-week holidays to exceptional destinations. However, this is only true if employees are already satisfied by basics such as remunerations.

Operant conditioning is an old theory that seeks to know the needs of employees. It derives from classical conditioning. Although expectancy theory omits the fact that employees do not want tangible things to look forward to, the study above explains this very well. The theory suggests that employers should seek to know what employees look forward to from them. Additionally, the environment should be conducive to enable employees to state what they want.

Employee’s perception towards organizational change

The need for change is inevitable because organizations face external and/or internal pressures to change. However, organizational change processes can be counter-productive if they are not well managed (Oreg, 2006). If not properly communicated to, assured, and/or motivated, employees are reluctant to leave their old job description for a new assignment (Paulsen et al. 2005). Sometimes, the resistance could be fear of losing their relevance in the organization (Oreg, 2006). As earlier stated, a properly planned change is made to make the organization more efficient and effective.

The emotions of an employee towards change can be positive or negative depending on the level of responsibility attached to the employee (Oreg, 2006). Employees’ profiles influence their feelings towards the organizational change (Piderit, 2000, p. 56). The belief in a better job description may influence their desire for change. Oreg (2006) suggests that management change could be achieved when the feelings, perceptions, and attitudes of the employees are captured in the processes of change. The feelings of employees towards change affect their performance, thus, employees’ inclusion in decision-making during the change management will provide a positive response.

Some employees perceive loss of position and/or entitlements should the change succeed (Martin, Jones & Callan, 2005). Oreg (2006). However, employees who communicate with the executives easily also accept change easily hence indicating the need for communication. Conversely, employees who are not effectively communicated take longer to embrace change (Goodman & Truss, 2004).

The level of influence in the decision-making process influences the employee’s perception of the organizational change (Goltz & Hietapelto, 2002). When the management gathers employees’ opinions before the commencement of the change process, chances of resistance from the employees are minimal. Consequently, the level of education of the employees influences their perception of the organizational change (Armstrong-Stassen, 2005).

Interventions in the change process

Including employees in the decision-making process leading to organizational changes can be assessed by the success or failure of the organizational change. The consequence of an employee’s inclusion can be determined by the success of the organizational change (Beer & Nohria, 2000). When the employees provide support to the change management, the change process will be successful. Employees’ inclusion will influence their perceptions towards the change process; their attitudes will influence the process of change in the organization. The staff strength will be utilized to improve and cushion the effects of the change (Lau, 2001). The plan must be achievable, and the challenges can be minimized when the employees are included in the decision-making process (Beer & Nohria, 2000). The consequences of employees’ inclusion in the decision-making of the change management process can be measured under several categories. Individuals’ expectation level is the first and foremost category; employees’ inclusion in the decision-making process during the change management process increases the level of expectation without resistance of the individual. Each employee will be prepared to provide efficient services without the feeling of burden. Secondly, the level of commitment of employees is another crucial category. The management may not require strict rules to enforce an organizational change. Each employee will be committed to his or her job description, thereby increasing the level of commitment to the organization. In addition, the level of communication is the next one. The level of cohesion between the staff and management will be strengthened when the employees are included in the decision-making process during change management (Grant, 2011). The level of communication is directly proportional to the success of the organizational change. The last category is a positive attitude. Employees’ inclusion in the decision-making process during organizational change will create a positive attitude towards the organizational change. A positive attitude will improve the communication level in the organization.

Key to successful and sustainable change

Assuming Omantel’s management decides to draw from Greiner’s six-phase change process, its change process would be as follows: Greiner identified the first stage as pressure and arousal. This meant that, for the change process to begin, top management needed to be subjected to either internal or external pressure to change. In our case, the company’s management was facing external pressure from their competitors. The internal pressure came from the fact that they faced the task of explaining to the owners why the company was making losses. The second stage was intervention and re-orientation. This stage required management to work with an expert. The catch was that this expert had to report to the highest level of management. It was feared that management would simply ignore the problem if an expert were not involved. Omantel, therefore, required a marketing and sales expert.

The third stage called for recognition and diagnosis. It would involve the top management and the marketing and sales expert working with the low-level employees. The importance of this stage would be to identify the various problems faced. In this case, the problems were reduced market share and the company was recording losses. The fourth stage was invention and commitment. It would also require top management to work with both the expert and low-level managers. It would entail coming up with solutions to the problems identified. For this company, the solution would be to cut costs as it was making losses, and its new strategies required a large financial outlay. It could do this by doing away with wasteful activities and taking away some of the unnecessary benefits it provided to employees. The importance of using the shared approach here was to avoid resistance later and simplify the implementation process.

The fifth stage was experimentation and research. Here the solutions made in the previous phase would be subjected to a series of test runs in some parts of the organization. The last stage would be reinforcement and acceptance, which would entail introducing the changes on a large-scale basis throughout the organization. This being the implementation stage, the company is bound to encounter some difficulties, as discussed below.

The conceptual models of three

Inclusion of employees

Inclusion of employees can be defined as “the degree to which an employee perceives that he or she is an esteemed member of the workgroup through experiencing treatment that satisfies his or her needs for belongingness and uniqueness” (Short et al., 2011, p.1265). From the foregoing definition, it is clear that two factors affect employees’ inclusion: I) the perceptions that employees have regarding how they are treated in the workplace, and II) the employees’ needs to be unique and belong to the organization. Notably, uniqueness refers to the exclusivity of talents, skills, or even culture. Even then, individual employees need to feel like part of the larger organization based on the appreciation of their unique traits by the management. Belongingness on the other hand refers to the idea of being treated as part of the organization (or as an insider). When a person’s sense of belongingness is not satisfied, he/she can suffer negative consequences at emotional, cognitive, and physical levels (Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarocco & Twenge, 2005).

In figure 6 below, it is evident that inclusion is realized when high value is attached to employees’ uniqueness and there is a high sense of belongingness among employees.

Inclusion Framework
Figure 6: Inclusion Framework. Source: Shore et al. (2011, p. 1266).

The relevance of employees’ inclusion during change management is that, when they are treated as insiders, details about the intended change are communicated to them in good time (Allen, Jimmieson, Bordia & Irmer, 2007). Applied in context, for example, the proposed research would find out if employees were briefed in good time regarding the privatization of Omantel

Employee decision making

. Decision making, is by nature, a “motivated, cognitive process” (Wood & Bandura, 2009). In other words, for employees to participate in decision-making, they need to be cognitively aware of their role in the same, and must also be motivated to participate. Notably, for decision-making to produce socially mediated and distal outcomes, there need to be multiple information sources. It is worth noting that not all information that employees are exposed to is factual; as such, it is the management’s responsibility to ensure that employees are motivated and guided through the provision of verified factual information (Wood & Bandura, 2009).

The communication done by the management is a key source of information and based on the same, employees construe perceptions regarding their positions in an organization in the future (Wood & Bandura,2009). If the communication puts employees’ abilities into question, Wood and Bandura (2009, p, 410) argue that such “heightens evaluative concerns about personal competence” and such concerns can have different effects on employees’ cognitive functioning.

Management of change

Management of change refers to four distinct areas: the task of change management; professional practice involving change management; knowledge about change management; and the control mechanism of change (Nickols, 2010). The focus for this paper will be on “the task of change management” as indicated by Nickols (2010, p.3). By perceiving management of change as a task, this paper admits that the “changes to be managed lie within and are controlled by the organization” (Nickols, 2010, p. 2). Additionally, when perceived as a task, management of change has a meaning that suggests that people in an organization are responsible for planning, making, and managing the changes in a systematic manner. As Nickols (2010) observes, some of the changes that an organization has to manage are triggered in the external environment. In the case of Omantel for example, the pressure to privatize might have come from market forces that made government ownership less desirable in a market where competition would open up the telecommunications sector. When the external environment calls for change, the organization has to respond even though it might have little or no control over the changes taking place (Nickols, 2010). Whichever the case (i.e. whether the changes are anticipative and proactive in response to internally instigated changes or reactive in response to external pressure), an organization needs to manage the impact that change has on people.

Research Methodology

Under this section, this research will entail collecting, comparing, and contrasting relevant and appropriate information from the already highlighted theories and documents. A comprehensive database that will be utilized in analyzing the change management process in Omantel will be assembled. This will be done with a core aim of gaining a deeper insight into the underlying concepts in the theories highlighted and hence the appropriate approach Omantel would have employed to execute the change management process.

Research Design

A quantitative evaluation will be greatly utilized for this research with sample questionnaires being used to gather significant facts. Before the questionnaires are delivered, the key goals of the research will be prioritized, that is, the questions contained in the questionnaires will be aligned to exactly respond to the research questions and hence achieve the research objectives.


The information gathering process will largely consist of delivering sample questionnaires, a survey mechanism to determine attitudes and beliefs of employees concerning the effects of the change process on them will be administered. The sample of employees who will be issued with the questionnaires will be about 200 (or n=200; where n is the number of employees issued with the questionnaires). To back up the sample questionnaires, an interview modus operandi will be structured. The combination of these methods will aim at providing a more in-depth information gathering procedure to substantially establish how the privatization process was carried out. More precisely, the sampling process will be done to a wide range of employees including the managers of the firm by then. Moreover, the questions contained in the sample research questionnaires will be pre-tested for appropriateness and viability.

Data Collection Tool

The major data collection tool which will be utilized in this research is questionnaires. Some of the sample questions will include: A) How did the change process affect you? B) Were you involved in any decisions made during the change period? C) Are you better or worse after the change?

Data Analysis (and Techniques)

In data analysis, stratification will be deployed to separate information that would have been collected from various ranks of individuals. This will aid in setting up patterns and hence the true picture of change management. Also, the survey will be conducted to determine both employees’ and managers’ knowledge and opinions of the entire process. Lastly, an inferential statistics approach will be used to help establish the features and nature of the entire change process in Omantel.

Proposed Timetable

The research is to take a maximum duration of three years. The following are the major tasks to be dispensed:

Task/ activity Start Date End Date Link to Assessed Work and Deadline Duration
Drafting a research plan September 2012 January 2013 Article 1
5 months
Final research plan February 2013 July 2013 article 2
6 months
Crucial and thorough literature review August 2013 April 2014 Article 3
9 months
Results Analysis and recording of findings May 2014 June 2014 N/A 2 months
Processing of comprehensive interview questions July 2014 August 2014 N/A 2 month
Thesis Drafting and redrafting September 2014 August 2015 Article 4
31/01/ 2012
12 months

Table 1: The Proposed Timetable.

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