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Tuning into tensions at times of change: The experiences of line and HR managers in a contract catering firm

D'Annunzio-Green, Norma; Francis, Helen


Norma D'Annunzio-Green

Helen Francis


The purpose of this paper is to present case study evidence of how managers in a contract catering firm made sense of an organisational change initiative that encouraged them to become self-sufficient and display "entrepreneurial" behaviours in an environment where they were also expected to "comply" with new operating procedures aimed at strengthening central control. Design/methodology/approach - Uses 25 in-depth interviews with a cross-section of line and HR managers over an 11-month period to uncover practical experiences of change and their attempts to constructively manage the tensions between the opposing dualities that arise from it. The paper draws on empirical research from an in-depth case study of a leading multinational corporation in the contract catering sector. Findings - the findings expose the pressures that managers faced in the reconciliation of the contrasting need to develop as entrepreneurs alongside an organisational strategy driven by cost minimisation and control. It provides an empirical example of the duality that exists in organisations between the quantitative need for discipline in managerial procedures at the same time as the organisation has to pay attention to the qualitative need for investment in human resources. Originality/value - This paper provides insights to a relatively under-researched yet significant sector of the hospitality industry - contract catering. It provides a vivid empirical account of the tensions that managers face in times of change and a practical illustration of the creative ways that managers found to deal with the contradictions arising from the change initiative.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2005-06
Deposit Date Feb 20, 2008
Print ISSN 0959-6119
Electronic ISSN 1757-1049
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 4
Pages 345-358
Keywords human resource management; organizational change; catering industry; service industries; entrepreneurialism
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