The Change Management in Telecommunications Sector Omantel in Sultanate of Oman

Subject: Industry
Pages: 18
Words: 5140
Reading time:
19 min
Study level: PhD


Organizational change involves changing occurs when change is adopted by altering the organization structure, objectives, goals, and policies. This is mainly done to improvise on the level of organization competition performance and customer service. Organizational change leads to assorted views and reactions towards the change. When change occurs in an organization, the employees are most likely to be affected by the change. This research that was conducted on the telecommunication sector in Sultanate of Oman tends to analyze and determine the impact that the change of privatization of the telecommunication sector had on its employees. The research shows how organizational superiors fail to involve their employees in the changing process, making them have different reactions towards the change.

Literature Review

Privatization of Omantel

Privatization of Omantel has been a rigorous process that has taken time to materialize fully. As indicated before, this company has been enjoying monopoly power in the telecommunication sector. After Oman joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), one requirement imposed on her was to open their telecommunication sector to other investors both national and international. In essence, one company providing services in the industry had dominated the sector. There was a need for competition by allowing other players to venture into the sector. Despite the promise to privatize the sector, the process has been gradual. In addition, to promote efficiency and increase profitability privatization should occur with Omantel (Al Bawaba 2002).

In respect to Oman, the sultanate provision of telecommunication services was by Mantel a state-owned parasternal. It was in charge of providing both fixed and mobile telecommunication services. Globalization has opened up all markets of the world and exposed them to external competition. The globalization move forwarded by the World Trade Organization saw the opening up of the initially monopolized telecommunication sector to other service providers both national and international. Management of the sector has changed with other firms from the private sector licensed to venture into the market unrestricted. Several companies have launched their interest whereas others have already started their operations. In most cases, the once protected firms flex their wings wider by adopting new systems and styles to ensure dominance in the local market. Among these changes is the privatization of organizations that were initially owned by the government. This increases their flexibility to adapting to the new changes more readily (William 1986).

This paper evaluates change management from the perspective of Omantel. Omantel is the biggest player in terms of size and influence in the Telecommunication sector in the Oman Sultanate. Formed in 1980 and establishes, operates, maintains, and develops both fixed and mobile telecommunication facilities. Their services range from residential, commercial, and government agencies within the sultanate. Initially, formed under a legal Act that instituted the company as the General Telecommunication Organization (GTO) where it gained control over the Telecommunications sector within the Sultanate as a lone player. The company was later in 1999 transformed to Omantel and became the first telecom operator in the Sultanate. It has ever since been undergoing a series of changes in its management and operations. In 2004, it launched Oman Mobile as their ancillary organization. Listed among the public companies in 2005 following its shares quoted in Muscat securities Market. The government owns 70% of the company whereas the remaining percentage distributed among other investors from the private sector. There has been a remarkable competition within the sector. Competition emanated from both the local and international service providers, especially the mobile sector. As a quick response to the impending danger of competition that was slowly building up, the company has been undergoing a series of internal restructuring, including a major shift that has seen the mobile and fixed line operating companies merged into a legitimate umbrella of Omantel (Paton & McCalman 2008).

Changing of their name to Omantel was the first significant step to the privatization of the company. The dividing of the company into two subsidiaries the fixed line and the mobile outfit followed it. It was a move to promote efficiency in management and better services to their clients. Initially, the government of the Omani Sultanate had announced to 40% of the shares to the private entities both foreigners and citizens. An additional 9% of the shares allotted to the local pension funds. This means the state had to maintain 51% majority of the shares in the company. The telecommunication industry in the country had been under control of one company, which has hindered its expansion and introduction of new services. Therefore, privatization of both the company, and the industry would usher in innovations and inventions. The performance of the company was due to introduction of new technologies that would compete favorably with international standards (System Architect 2004).

Factors influencing change

Organizational change refers to activities aimed at strengthening and developing organization, performance as well as sustaining its existence. It refers to any alteration of activities in the organization. These alterations of activities may involve changes in the structure of the organization, modification of the work tasks, and introduction of new product introducing of new technology or a change in attitude among employees.

The modern world has become competitive in all areas, and it is only change that will help an individual or organization cope with the dynamic world. These changes have infiltrated into the business world that has currently become the powerhouse of competition. Organizations keep changing their operations and culture to keep pace with what is happening in the market. Globalization and the tremendous trend of new technologies have kept organizations on their toes. Globalization, on its part, has ushered in competition whereas technology has spurred new inventions. Both the internal and external factors stimulate the demands for change in an organization. External influences comprise technological advances, new materials, competitive actions by competitors, state laws, shift in customer choice and preference, economic trends in the world economy, shifts in the national and global political arena, economic environment affected by the level of GNP cost reduction measures and the buyer purchasing power, and fluctuations in cultural and social norms pertaining to a particular society. Internal influences comprise introduction of new products and services, little or no employee motivation, change in the management staff, incompetence, introduction of employee training schemes, need for upgrading, relocating to another site to be closer to essential services, and adopting a new system to get feedback on how to improve services rendered to customers (Schuler 2002).

Employee response to change

Psychologically accepted that humans will tend to oppose any change that affect their daily routine and lifestyle. It is thus true that the most predictable response to change by human resources is resistance. People normally show laxity in adapting to the new changes by wanting to stick to the old ways of doing things. The underlying factor in the resistance to change is that most people are not sure of how these changes will influence them and their future. However, the overall structure in an organization may make it difficult for employees to accept the change introduced. For instance, employee’s view of the way resources have been distributed in the current system is compared to the proposed change determines a great deal whether or not they will readily accept the change. Where the proposed reorganization threatens the use of power by some individuals in management may spur resistance. As such, the proposed change may champion for collective decision making and by so doing threatening reduce the power of certain dockets within the management structure. When the new system comes along with new job descriptions with higher requirements a resistance may arise against the proposed changes. This may mean that some of the employees stand losing their jobs if the proposed changes are to be implemented Some changes may only focus on one aspect at the time of drafting without due consideration of the effects of the change to other areas. This may be a platform for opposition to change by those affected. In addition, where the change tends to separate tasks initially performed jointly resistance will occur. Human are social beings and would therefore prefer in a group than working separately (Elaine, Martin, & Mitchell 2010).

There is a need that employees are involved in discussing the implementation of change and the decision making process in order to make them think management consulted them and therefore make them own the change. Involvement of employees in formulation of changes boosts their morale and makes them show more commitment to their jobs. Resistance to change may be through direct confrontation or indirectly through the way, they conduct their is portrayed in stages. Employees lose morale in performance of the duties since they are disengaged. It seen in sudden absenteeism, request for transfer to other areas, refusing to take part in the implementation of change, and some go to the extent of quitting or retiring from their jobs and seeking for employment elsewhere. Employees may also show a liking of the old system after implementation of the changes occurs. They tend to stick to the old culture and feel insecure performing their duties under the new system. It is thus important that these indicators to dissatisfaction may be diagnosed and proper steps taken to ensure their effect does not extend to affect the performance of the organization (Rommel & Robert 2009).

Emotions and change

Management change in an organization is a phenomenon that brings an emotional dilemma in employees leaving them at the crossroads about their future. Introduction of change in the operation and management of an organization normally leave employees unable to comprehend how these changes will affect their jobs, their lifestyles and how well they will be able to cope. It takes time for employees to emotionally come to terms with the change and absorb it. This automatically interferes with how one executes his or her duties and may hamper one’s performance at work. Emotionally derailed employees will portray low morale with high cases of sick leaves, accidents, and disputes with colleagues as well as poor communication to the other employees within the organization. This may look minor to the organization but carries adverse effects on the performance of the organization emotional distraught may be a major setback to the successful implementation of change. Those who do not welcome change often become cynic, comment negatively about the organization or the change implemented, and shows their distrust in the proposed changes (Turner, Haley, & Hallencreutz 2009).

Attitudes and Change

It simply refers to how one feels, understands, and preconceives toward the surrounding or situation, which causes him or her to display a pattern tandem with their attitude. Attitude also refers the thinking of an individual in response to the central object pertaining to his or her attitudes. The attitude of an individual is bound to change when his or her feeling and understanding of a situation shifts from one point to the other. This shift may be because of change in emotions, which impacts on their behavior and habits. This becomes important because these shifts occurring in the midst of change and are usually a response toward a particular change imposed on them. It becomes worse if the attitude formed is negative because the product may be negative conduct.

It falls within the mandate of the organization to ensure employees develop a positive attitude towards change. This would be instrumental in the achievement of the set goals for the organization and the successful realization of the proposed change. Most organizations fail to implement the desired change, not because of inefficiency but mainly because of resistance by employees toward the change implemented. What makes the whole issue important is its influence on morale, their plans to remain in the organization and their output in terms of productivity (Padmakumar 2012).

Organizational commitment and change

In this context, we take it in refer to how employees identify with the organization and feel part of the achievements realized by the organization. Motivated employees will have loyalty and put individual effort to ensure collective success within the organization. This will be seen in their intents to remain at the organization and faster execution of tasks accorded to them. It’s said that organizational commitment is a measure of the worth of association between the organization and its employees. Employees should feel the organization as a family to them whereas the organization should consider its employees as equally important members without whom it cannot function properly. The result of this relationship implies mutual coexistence and arriving at objectives and goals collectively. What this means is that employees should apply their skills and knowledge to offer excellent services to the organization whereas the organization react to their better services with better rewards to their employees. The main indicators of employees commitment is their willingness to take the initiative on behalf of the organization, agreement to uphold the values of the organization, and a strong conviction to remain at the organization (Parlea-Buzatu 2011).

In the achievement of this, it will be possible to implement any change because of the guaranteed employee loyalty. Committed employees are more likely to take positively changes introduced in the organization. However, the organization should not take employee loyalty for granted by introducing changes that directly or indirectly threatens his or her future as employees to the organization. In essence, the good mutual relationship an organization has with their employees may reverse into mortal enmity by any attempt seen to sabotage this relationship. Employees will give priority to their job security before organization interests. The most important in this case is employees identifying something positive in the change, which they can take advantage of and benefit (Ram & Prabhakar 2011).

Organization change management

Changing the structure of an organization from an inflexible government owned corporation to a flexible and desegregated privately owned organization results into major shifts in culture and structures. A crucial issue comes along with massive implementations of changes. In essence, these shifts in functionality and management will not be taken as normal by employees. Not all changes that are introduced are greeted warmly by the members of an organization. The implementation of a new idea or technique quite often results in resistance by those who will be affected by it mostly. Resistance is common and it is important for managers to understand and overcome resistance to change. Managers should first identify major reasons for resistance to change and develop methods for overcoming resistance to a change. People will always be contemptuous of any change as long as they are in a dilemma of understanding the implementation and its effect to them. It is a normal habit for people to prefer certainty, probability, and normal practice of doing things as opposed to subjected of constant changes daily. The underlying reason is that change interferes with balance of maintaining one’s life hence spurring chaos and mix-ups (Daniela 2012).

Change management ensures employees get some help to comprehend change and actively participate in the implementation process. According to this content resistance is normal and always carries a genuine reason behind the need of attention from the organization. The best strategy to reacting to resistance is by presenting a logical response to it and giving due consideration to the emotional dimension. This is important because emotions play a vital role in bringing resistance, which conducted intellectually or directly through outbursts. To avoid delaying the implementation process organization should address resistance to change as soon as they arise. Failure to address it at the time cause delays and this will mean that the organization has to prepare addressing it at each stage of change implementation. Some of the ways effectively applied in addressing resistance is by constantly communicating to them the perceived implications of the change. Training employees about the change to help them build a clear picture of what the change is all about and what is required of them should accompany this. It is necessary that employees taught on how to accommodate the change and embrace it in their delivery of services under the proposed change. Once employees are fully aware of the change, they should be involved in the process of implementing the change to make them accept and embrace the change. Reward employees who show a positive response to the change whereas those who deviate from the goals of change should be punished (Yu 2009).

Research Findings

As explained before, collected data was from among 100 employees through one-on-one interviews and by use of questionnaires. In this question, results presented according to the questions asked during the data collection process.

How did you feel when you heard that Omantel waited privatization?

Happy Good Scared Positive Unsure Confused Doubtful Awful
Male 3 9 10 11 11 8 5 5
Female 0 6 8 4 6 5 2 4
Total 3 15 18 15 17 13 7 9

It is true from the above results above that employees portrayed mixed emotions and various perceptions toward the move to privatization. Whereas a section of the participants viewed privatization as good and positive, another section perceived the move as a threat and got scared and uncertain of their future in the organization. However, the management’s response clearly puts it that most employees were excited about the move because it would grant them pay rise, higher positions, change in the tasks and operation. As such, most of their employees were at home with the move to privatize the company although there was a good fraction of them who had opposed the change (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Sultanate of Oman 2005).

Which changes brought by privatization affected you?

Instability at the place of work Shift from one department to another Changes in the job descriptions
Male 36 33 44
Female 23 21 27
Total 59 54 71

The results above show that the response to the changes implemented was negative. Due to instability in the work places most of the employees faced major shifts in their jobs descriptions. Changing of job descriptions made employees unsuitable for their initial dockets hence making them be taken to other department, which the management thought was more suitable for them (Cynthia 2012).

Management on their side stated that they experienced problems dealing with employees who had lower academic qualifications, especially after revision of job descriptions and standards for requirements raised slightly higher.

What do you think was the main cause for privatization?

His majesty the sultan wanted to privatize the company It was to change the top management Because Oman had joined the World Trade Organization
Male 18 23 24
Female 9 11 15
Total 27 34 39

Employees seemed to be confused about the whole issue of privatization. This question designed specifically to examine whether or not employees received enough information on the change that was likely to take place, and whether or not the employees were involved in the change decision making process. The mixed reactions to the question clearly indicate lack of proper knowledge and whatever responses they provided was out of mere speculation without any factual basis. It can thus be concluded that management did not involve fully involve their employees in implementing the change.

How did you (as part of management) view the restructuring process because of privatization?

It was necessary It will help the company It will push the company forward
Male 4 4 5
Female 3 3 3
Total 7 7 8

The above information show that the management perceived the move to privatization as an opportunity to restructure the company. They believed it was necessary and would play an important role in spearheading the company to better performance and help it maintain as the leading international hub in Oman.

How do you think privatization has affected the organization?

Higher educational levels Lead to better transparency Lead to change in organizational culture Become more performance oriented Improved staff reorganization Become more customer centric
Male 5 4 5 3 5 5
Female 2 3 3 3 2 1
Total 7 7 8 6 7 6

The response from the management show that the current management feels the company has improved when compared to its initial performance. According to the various departmental managers interviewed in this study, the company has embraced a more proactive system and advanced culture that incorporates all market dynamics. The new system emphasizes more on academic qualifications, and effective coordination among the various departments. Clearly, the company has transformed and their services aim at achieving customer satisfaction in service provision.

What did you know about the privatization of Omantel?

Only heard from the external sources Changes will be on the management only Orders came from His majesty the Sultan External group will study the company I did not know anything about it
Male 34 32 42 21 37
Female 27 12 18 20 17
Total 61 44 60 41 54

These responses clearly show that there was no official announcement or notification passed to the employees on the issue of privatization. Some caught in the changes with surprise whereas others only heard the information from other external sources, including spouses and trusted friends. Therefore, employees in this organization are never involved in any decision making process and are not treated as important members of the organization.

Management on their side stated that the company was passing through tumultuous moments, and there was no time to talk to employees and address their woes. They were too busy laying strategies and policies that would see them through the anticipated competition. The main worry to them was adopting better management practice and success of the company had nothing to do with whether or not the employees would agree to the change.

Do you have anything to say about the achievement of the company after privatization?

The employees raised a number of issues. Most of the employees agreed that privatization had improved the face of the company. However, they believed the company had not appropriately considered the issue of training employees, insuring them, and coming up with a better scheme for awarding retirement benefits. They also agreed that the opening up of the industry to investors would mean the company has to prepare to battle with large brands well established and with an extensive network (Jones et al. 2008).


Employee emotions

Both positive and negative reactions came out from the employees during the study. Privatization was taken positively and the expected effects. However, the change in job descriptions and other parameters affecting the security of the job of employees attracted negative perception. Negative emotions spur doubt and make employees confused hence making it difficult for them to accept the change. It is generally a common trait for people to resist change because it alters their normal delivery of duties. Positive emotion leads to a positive attitude toward change hence enhancing employees’ abilities to adhere to the requirements of privatization. This study reveals that most company ignores the aspect of employee involvement in implementing the change and instead focuses on laying strategies of offsetting competition. This should not be the case because employee involvement is as important as other factors.

Effects on job performance

This study reveals that employees found it difficult to cope with the shifts to other departments because the new system had found them unfit for their previous positions. There was no reported reaction against these changes hence implying that Omantel employees really respect the authority even when inconvenienced and offended they are. Despite their negative feeling towards the change in job descriptions and subsequent shift to other departments, employees did not allow their feeling to influence their behavior at the place of work. Privatization meant adopting new strategies, objectives, goals and policies that would help the company compete on an international standard. As such, there was a need for more specialized job descriptions that would require higher qualifications. Because most employees initially employed with a minimum requirement, it was thus necessary to swap them to other areas where they would suit properly given that most of them were far from the retirement age. In this respect, the management’s action to shift employees is justified. In summary, privatization meant better performance and improved standards (Aycan et al. 2007).

Employee participation and involvement

In this study, the management perceived employees as recipients of change rather than participants in the changing process. As such, employees believe that the organization is still under the control of the government, and them as subjects not allowed raising any resistance but rather submitting to all the changes and demands imposed on them. Employees’ responses showed that change was inevitable for the company, and they had no otherwise but to accept to the change. The positive results realized in the implementation of change clearly depict employees in Oman as people who do not have the audacity to stand for their right and oppose anything that interferes with their welfare at the place of work. In addition, there is still a wide gap of relationship between employees and the management because most employees feel that the management is supreme and whatever comes from them should be accepted without questioning. In this case, employees, and the management do not view participation in the change as imperative to the successful implementation of the change in the organization.

Change management

Privatization of Omantel deemed a competitive tool for keeping pace with the ever-increasing competition in the telecommunication sector. This was the initial step to managing change that introduced more competitive job descriptions and adoption of a richly dynamic organizational culture. In connection to this, privatization helped counter the danger of losing because of stiff competition, the employees feeling their jobs were at the integration of better salaries relative to the employees’ academic qualification, and their experience the situation elucidated. In any change, it is important that salaries, job descriptions, and the corresponding rewards catered on time. Successful implementation of change is highly dependent on how well the organization addresses challenges and focuses on the core objectives of the change.

Communication and change

The study refilled that no official communication from the management on the changes organization will face. Most employees heard it from other external sources that were unreliable. However, this lack of timely communication has no impact on the implementation of the change because the government had instructed the move to privatization and no one could dare question. Changes on the job descriptions circulated to the various employees to enlighten them on the new job requirements and therefore, prepare them for any change in their positions. Communication seems not to spur any resistance to implementation of change as opposed to the literature that failure to communicate will always facilitate resistance. It is true that communication to employees is a necessary component of implementing change. However, this does not hold any water when referring to cultural societies like Oman where obedience to authority is imperative and a must (Allen et al. 2007).

After effects of Privatization changes in Omantel

The changes brought because of privatization of the company have changed the landscape of the company. The adoption of new management strategies and specialized job descriptions has improved the performance of the company. Moreover, employees have indicated their intentions of pursuing further education to improve their qualifications and make them suitable for their jobs. This positive move will improve service delivery to their customers and make it more efficient. The working conditions have also improved with better schemes, such as health insurance and retirement benefits to cater for the welfare of employees. In addition, the increased salaries are out of government control. Employees are willing to accept change in the company and ready to work hand in hand with the management in ensuring successful implementation of their strategies. The management is also on the gear to improving the value of their employees through regular trainings as part of their plan to expending their skills and knowledge. This will help them absorb change more easily and maintain their leadership as the largest player in the telecommunication sector (Miguel 2011).


The study shows that the management of Omantel has neglected the involvement of employees in change and failure to communicate on the changes the organization intends to implement. Negative emotions spur doubt and make employees confused hence making it difficult for them to accept the change. Positive emotion leads to a positive attitude toward change hence enhancing employees’ abilities to adhere to the requirements of privatization. This study reveals that most company ignores the aspect of employee involvement in implementing the change and instead focuses on laying strategies of offsetting competition. This should not be the case because employee involvement is as important as other factors. It falls within the mandate of the organization to ensure employees develop a positive attitude toward change. This would be instrumental in the achievement of the set goals for the organization and the successful realization of the proposed change. Most organizations fail to implement the desired change, not because of inefficiency but mainly because of resistance by employees toward the change implemented. What makes the whole issue such important is its influence on morale, their plans to remain in the organization and their output in terms of productivity (Mitchell & Christina 2008).

The positive results realized in the implementation of change clearly depict employees in Oman as people who do not have the audacity to stand for their right and oppose anything that interferes with their welfare at the place of work. Even though offended by some of the management practices, they accepted change without questioning. Therefore, whatever written about communication and employee participation relative to change does not hold in special cultural setting like the one in Oman. Even though employees were opposed to some of the changes, their attitudes did not hinder or affect the process of implementing the change. Employees obeyed the authority and followed everything they were required to do by the management. In addition, employees had fears concerning the future of their jobs but did not resist change in any way. Therefore, the hypotheses designed earlier in this study do not apply in the case of Oman.

Limitation and recommendations for future studies

Conclusions drawn from the paper founded on the results obtained in the context of the study. Future studies should aim at exploring the impact of other factors other than participation and communication to the implementation of change in an organization. In addition, a variety of organization evaluated to get a more precise conclusion on the effects of organizational change and management. There is a need for a comparative study that would evaluate the organization from the west and the east to establish the differences and similarities that bind them. This will help a great deal in arriving at a more precise and accurate conclusions.


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