Degree Name

Masters of Research


School of Management, Operations and Marketing


Organisational change, including organisational restructures, impact on the culture of organisations, often negatively. Negative organisational cultures impact on organisational performance. There is a myriad of literature pertaining to organisational change and organisational culture, however there is a relative scarcity of studies on how organisations can ensure change is successful and sustainable without impacting negatively on the culture and performance of the organisation. This study explores the links between a) how cultural change is best achieved, b) who is best to lead the change and c) what method should be utilised. The exploration results in a framework which can be utilised to minimise the negative impact of organisational change on organisational culture and organisational performance (although this is not tested here), by utilising the middle manager’s understanding and replication of positive deviance behaviours as an intervention to influence organisational culture positively.

A longitudinal mixed methodology was undertaken to ascertain if middle managers in a New South Wales Local Government Organisation, undergoing major organisational change, could influence the organisational culture positively. The intervention of understanding and replicating positive deviance by middle managers was introduced through an action research process. To verify if the intervention resulted in a positive organisational culture, baseline and post-test cultural analysis was undertaken utilising the Organisational Culture Index tool.

The practical and theoretical outcomes of the study are significant for organisations. First, this study demonstrates to organisations that extensive change is possible while maintaining, or even improving organisational culture. These benefits are achieved through the use of positive deviance, the application of which is discussed in this thesis. Second, the paper provides a contribution to theory through the discovery of a potential Australian social effect which should be considered when developing a cultural change design. Australia’s cut down tall poppies and belittle their achievements. The current body of knowledge is limited in studies which explore the social effect of tall poppies and their negative impact on the success of organisational culture change initiatives and organisational performance.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.