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‘Happily ever after?’ Readiness for change amongst managers in regard to the adoption of AI within an international bank

Wright, Brian

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Abstract

This thesis examines the early AI/Automation transformational journey of an established international bank as it transitions its technology and people to a new operational ‘way of working’ and the consequent impact this has on managers’ readiness to adopt this new technology. The study also recognises the influence and impact the organisational history has had on those left to implement the bank’s new strategic vision.

The research considers two literature lenses – Change and Leadership, based on a technology centric focus – these broad domains are subsequently refined to establish their influence and impact, on change readiness or readiness for change. This systematic review of the literature provides an insight into the complex nature of continuous change, the multiple leadership styles required and the potential impact of technological change on individuals, especially when these are associated with individuals’ mental or physical wellbeing (A. Johnson et al., 2020).

Utilising a critical realist (CR) ontology and Bygstad & Munkvold’s (2011) Stepwise Framework, the study adopts a qualitative approach to collecting data using purposive sampling, semi-structured interviews and the assessment of participant responses via thematic analysis. What the data unlocks is a picture of an organisation – whose historic and dysfunctional leadership has influenced participants’ perspectives creating a ‘fear of failure’, and a ‘no bad news‘ mentality, the development of avoidance strategies that became normalised within a ‘risk averse culture’ and where individuals still wear the legacy battle scars. This situation, combined with the impacts of the 2008 financial crash, has uncovered three causal mechanisms. The perfect storm – a collective, organisational macro-mechanism encompassing the legacy behaviours and psychological trauma created by ‘Toxic’ leadership - this having an indelible impact on those who experienced it. The subsequent post-traumatic wave that brought with it the toxic organisational attitudes and behaviours, and individual emotional and psychological debris, that continues to influence the organisational structures, forming a deep-seated and integral part of the fabric for future continuous change cycle. Lastly, the key mechanism of Post Traumatic Organisational Disorder (PTOD), a combined mechanism capturing the emotional, psychological, or physical impact resulting from a series of collective traumatic organisational events, which not only continue to reverberate throughout the organisational structure, but also have the potential to create immediate and long-term mental health issues for those individuals living or having lived, through the experience.

These mechanisms, and the resulting creation of a conceptual framework, provide an alternate perspective on the need for a ‘pre-requisite’ step that helps practitioners to consider the wider implications of change, not only for the organisation, but also for those individuals being impacted – an alternative to the idealised transformational vision of change bringing a ‘happily ever after’ ending, which misses the longer term, emotional or psychological implications of change. This thesis bridges the gap between existing change strategies and the lack of consideration given to the emotional and psychological impact that change has on individual and organisational readiness.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2022
DOI https://doi.org/10.17869/ENU.2022.2968200
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2968200
Award Date Jul 8, 2022

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