Reaching Organizational Effectiveness Following Change: An Analysis of the Boyne, Charlevoix, and Emmet County United Way Merger
Asher, JoEllen A.
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Change can mean many things. It can mean a simple alteration in the procedures that have always been followed. It can mean a turnover in staff or management. It can mean the addition of new technology. Or it can mean a complete revision of something as it was once known. In my study of the United Ways of Boyne, Charlevoix, and Emmet Counties, I was able to witness this variety of changes as these organizations experienced a merger. To accurately analyze the merger of these United Ways, one must incorporate the theories of both organizational change and organizational development. The final goal for both being organizational effectiveness. But why should any organization change? Isn't the status quo better than the unknown? One can question change all that one wants, but the truth of the matter is that often change is inevitable. As Charles Handy suggests, it is better to accept and try to understand change rather than resist it. George Huber and William Glick (1993) wrote that "change is almost without exception the product of an energizing force" (p.3). They then continue by outlining two forces for change: the organization's top managers and the organization's environment. This theory is as true for non-profits as any corporate business. A recent article in ·corporate Philanthropy Report entitled "United Way's Wake-Up Call" (1995), states that although United Way has been the dominant charity for work-place campaigns, the organization has not kept pace with a changing economy and an increasingly diverse work force. For this reason, it suggests, more and more businesses are turning to other charities to participate in employee campaigns. This is merely one example of an environmental force that is steering the organization toward change. Other environmental factors include the increase in competition among all non-profit organizations for a share of a shrinking funding base, the need to use marketing strategies to "sell" organizational services to clients, donors, foundations, and volunteers, and the change in demographic patterns in the United States (Fram and Pearse 1992, p. 82). The other force in change is the top manager. Huber and Glick state that managers affect change in many ways, one of which is by being manipulators of the organization's environment (p.9). In 1992, then-president of United Way of America, William Aramony, was discovered to have been swindling more than $1 million dollars from the organization for his personal use. Although he has no immediate power over the smaller, local United Ways, he is representative of all the top managers. Whether intentional or not, his actions served to manipulate, albeit negatively, the organization's environment. His actions caused a loss of support from the general community of donors. In addition, he has turned a magnifying glass onto the United Way staff and board members, making it more crucial than ever that they prove the credibility of their organization and its managers. It is a combination of these forces that led to an inevitable change in the Boyne, Charlevoix, and Emmet County United Ways. As a result of the change that needed to happen, these separate organizations merged into one. This merger can represent simply an organizational change, or it can be seen as the beginning of a new organization, therefore representative of organizational growth and redesign. In this paper, I will look at literature and theoretical models dealing with both of these perspectives. I intend to "merge" the information and thereby create a model specifically geared toward a merging organization. Using the case study of the three United Ways, this paper will attempt to analyze how and why an organizational merger takes place and ultimately what needs to be done to make the change effective.