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Multi-Paradigmatic Perspectives on a Business Transformation Programme

Sergio Pellegrinelli Lucidus Consulting Ltd, Holmfirth, UK Ruth Murray-Webster Lucidus Consulting Ltd, Holmfirth, UK Abstract The study of projects and programmes, and their management, is seen as becoming an increasingly vibrant and pluralistic academic field, having transcended its pragmatic and functionalist roots. Drawing upon Burrell and Morgans (1979) four paradigms of sociological research, we briefly review research set within each paradigm. This plurality of perspectives has informed and sensitised our analysis and sense-making of a major business transformation programme within a European retail bank. This paper presents key findings and insights from our inductive research. We argue that the research adds to our knowledge and understanding of programme-based transformational change and in particular the functioning, identity and symbolism, sources of power, and structural properties of programmes. The research brings to light facets often overlooked by the dominant functionalist paradigm, and adds depth, richness and perspectives useful to practitioners. Further work is required to understand programmes as they become more prominent features of our organisational landscapes. Key words: programmes, programme management, business transformation, organisational change, paradigms Introduction Since its emergence at the end of Second World War as a formal and codified method for bringing about specific, time and scope bound undertakings (Morris 1994, 2011) projects and project management have become increasingly common. Attracting practitioners from the construction industry in the 1970s, and those within IT and new product development in the 1980s, the last two decades has seen a rapid expansion, popularization and use of project management across different sectors and functions (Morris, 2011). The development of project, and more latterly programme, management has undoubtedly been driven by pragmatic concerns of practitioners to accomplish tasks. It has also been influenced by the desire of the professional associations, primarily the US-based Project Management Institute (PMI) and the European-based International Project Management Association (IPMA), to codify what they consider best or good practice to guide practitioners and to provide a basis for professional qualifications. The resulting focus on processes, frameworks and techniques has led to the field being criticized for being mainly atheoretical and promoting simplistic explanation for complex issues. While the development of project and programme management, may have been largely grounded, arguably implicitly and unreflectively, in a functionalist paradigm, circa two decades ago research into projects drawing on different perspectives and often grounded in organizational theory started to flourish (Blomquist & Soderlund, 2002). A wide range of research, drawing on different ontological and
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epistemological commitments, is now presented at the leading academic conferences on project management (e.g. International Research Network of Organizing by Projects (IRNOP); PMI Research and Educational Conference). Project and programme management as sets of strictures in a professional sense, or conceived and studied from within a tightly bounded paradigm in an academic sense, are giving way to greater plurality of practices, perspectives and insights. This paper seeks to draw and build upon the plurality of perspectives by analysing a business transformation programme using multiple lenses. Specifically we use the sociological paradigms proposed by Burrell and Morgan (1979) to explore the multiple aspects of a complex process of change within an organisation. Our aim is to give voice to subjective experience, to bring to the fore tensions and conflicts, and to describe structural forces shaping the change process, which otherwise might be obscured or overlooked by research set within the still predominant functional paradigm. In the remainder of this paper, we offer a brief review of the paradigms proposed by Burrell and Morgan (1979) and point to extant research into project and programme management set within each of the four paradigms. Our intention is to evidence the range and plurality of scholarly work over the last twenty years or so. The examples are inevitably partial and selective, and some authors may argue that we have misconstrued their work, for which we apologise unreservedly. Also, while we recognise important distinctions between projects and programmes, we adopt the position proposed by Pellegrinelli et al. (2011) that they are related and form part of a wider field of purposeful and structured change. We thus treat, for the purposes of this paper, research into projects and programmes, and their management, as a single, broad literature. Following our brief review of the literature, we address the research aims and methods and provide a summary of the case studied. We then highlight key themes and insights from the transformation programme when explored from the constructs of the four paradigms. The implications and limitations of the research are discussed and the need for further research addressed. Sociological Paradigms Burrell and Morgan (1979) propose a way of analysing, mapping and understanding the multiple and diverse theories of society and organisation the conduct of collective human activity. The first dimension synthesises the assumptions about the nature of social science. This subjective - objective dimension encapsulates different assumptions in respect of ontology, epistemology, human nature and the appropriate methodology for the conduct of scientific inquiry. The second dimension deals with the assumptions about the nature of society. The regulation radical change dimension contrasts assumptions of society as being defined by order, consensus, cohesion and integration, with assumptions of society being characterised by conflict, domination, contradiction and the drive for emancipation. The two orthogonal dimensions generate four quadrants that provide a heuristic schema for conceptualising theories of society and organisations. The four paradigms derived from this model are: functionalist, interpretive, radical humanist and radical structuralist as shown in Figure 1.

The functionalist paradigm is characterised by a realist ontology, a positivist epistemology, a determinist view of human nature and a nomothetic approach to methodology, and is concerned with the order and regularities that underpin collective human activities. The interpretive paradigm also focuses on the sociology of regulation, but holds a nominalist ontology, an anti-positivist epistemology, a voluntarist view of human nature and an ideographic approach to methodology. The radical humanist paradigm shares the interpretive paradigms subjective underpinnings but deems society to be characterised by conflict, domination, and contradiction, with a consequent emphasis on realising human emancipation and potential. The radical structuralist paradigm is grounded in the notions of radical change set within objective ontological and epistemological assumptions that predicate (a degree of) structural determinism. Functionalist Roots Functionalist assumptions have underpinned the early manifestations and development of project management where traditional project management methodology has been underpinned by notions of objectivity, reductionism and predictability. The emerging methodology was infused, at a deep and tacit level, with prevailing theories of bureaucracy and scientific management. The early development of the field was not so much atheoretical as pre-theoretical theory unreflectively incorporated into models of practice. Arguably, the project management methodology can and should be seen as an operationalisation, albeit often tacit and in some instances unsophisticated, of these functionalist theories. The caricature of project management as a methodology, rather than a field of enquiry that
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warrants serious academic research may have been justified decades ago. However, academics and practitioners have since been more interested in looking, through and beyond the methodological prescriptions and bureaucracy, to study the actuality of projects and programmes. In keeping with a spirit of applied management science, many academics within the field have kept close to practice and practitioners. Whether driven by personal philosophical beliefs, or a desire to continue to engage with the pragmatic roots of the discipline, many scholars adopt and retain a functionalist paradigm for their work. Their choice of paradigm is largely aligned with the common sense understanding of project managements leading practitioners and of the increasingly active professional bodies. Much work within this tradition has tried to understand the sources of success and failure (e.g. Laufer and Hoffman, 2000), and critical success factors (e.g. Clark, 1999). Typically using quantitative methods and statistical techniques to infer regularities and shed light on recurring factors, this research informed developments in practice and contributed to a better understanding on project and project management work. Similar work has been done in relation to programmes and programme management (e.g. Shehu & Akintoye, 2009, 2010) A further defining characteristic of project management in the functionalist tradition is the conception of the project (or programme) as a temporary organisation (Cleland and Kerzner, 1985; Turner and Muller, 2003). Building from literature to build a behavioural theory of the firm, these authors suggest that the temporary separation of project-based work from business-as-usual is necessary to accomplish objectives. They go on to suggest that temporary project-based endeavours have features that warrant their existence as a specific type of organisational form that is distinct and separate from the nature of the work to be achieved, and the influence of stakeholders involved in accomplishing the work. Lundin and Soderholm (1995) called for the temporary project organisation to be analysed from the perspective of organisational theory, rather than from an entirely functionalist production mindset. While their theorising opened up possibilities to study projects from other paradigmatic perspectives, they conceptualised the project as an objective form, designed to bring about agreed, tangible outcomes. More recently, researchers have challenged the implied one size fits all of normative project management methodologies and have argued for a situational approach. Shenhar & Dvir (1996) drew on contingency theory to study the relationship between project management approach and project type. Other academics became interested in what makes projects different one another. For instance, Besner and Hobbs (2004) studied the different project management tools used in different types of projects. Tatikonda (1999) studied different product platforms in R&D projects. Andres and Zmud (2001) looked at how goal conflict, coordination strategies and task interdependence influence productivity and satisfaction in software projects. In keeping with developments in other fields, complexity theory has also become a lens for studying how projects unfold (e.g Williams 1999, Jaafari 2003, Cicmil et al. 2009). The tradition of researching projects through the lens of the functionalist paradigm continues with the majority of published work adopting this perspective. However, despite this dominant influence, alternative traditions have emerged and are adding new insights and enriching the debate within the field (Williams, 2005). Interpretive Tradition The 1995 special issues of the Scandinavian Journal of Management brought into stark relief changing perspectives in the field, especially amongst scholars in Scandinavia where
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humanist philosophies of science were more widespread. Packendorff (1995) set out an interpretive critique of, and challenge to, the prevailing pragmatism and functionalist conceptions, arguing that: Project management has become a scientific field in its own right, a field defined not by its theories or its origins, but by the habit of human beings to label a variety of coordinated, time-limited undertakings as "projects". The field is obviously held together by certain conceptions on process rationality; differences in outcome and process are disregarded in favor of alleged similarities in the planning and implementing of projects. But is there really a single, consistent, unambiguous empirical phenomenon that can be labeled "the project"? (1995: 324) The theme and role of labelling is echoed in Kreiners (1995) paper in the same issue. Kreiner (1995) argued that labelling something a project: implies general meaning, aspirations and propositions about what needs to be done. Depending on the contents of the project label we choose, we will come to approach reality differently and to draw different inferences for action (1995: 336). More recently, Lineham and Kavanagh (2006) have argued that a particular weakness of the prevailing functionalist conception of projects is a being ontology (Chia, 1995) that casts projects as discrete, concrete entities, privileging a reified conception of a project out there, objective and independent of the observer. They argue that a becoming (Chia, 1995) ontology draws attention to the social processes that initiate and sustain a project, to the sense-making that shapes understanding and action, and to the emergent, socially negotiated outcomes of projects. A key theme in the interpretive tradition has been to locate the project within it historical, cultural and institutional context, and to explore it through the lived experiences of those involved - an enacted view of projects. Engwalls (2003) comparative case based study of two major construction projects highlighted the importance of contextual cognisance and cultural compatibility of the project managers in facilitating project performance. The work convincingly dispels the notion that adherence to prescribed good practice leads to better performance. Grabher (2002), using network theory, took a macro view and proposed the concept of project ecology; the temporary networks of agents and institutions involved in forming and sustaining projects as forms of organised economic activity. Flyvberg and colleagues highlighted the complex, socio-political dimensions of projects, showing that guesses of time and cost are consistently overly optimistic, despite the availability of estimation tools and experience that should have aided decision-makers to develop better or more balanced estimations (Flyvbjerg et al., 2002; 2003). Cicmil (2006) adopted interpretive and critical research perspectives to highlight how project managers engage with organisational members to accomplish sophisticated cooperative activity, cope with multiple voices, ambiguous goals and equivocal performance criteria. Cicmils research contrasted the functionalist view of project managers as rational technicians, facing an objective reality and skilfully applying prescribed processes in a value neutral manner. She observed project managers continually negotiating direction and plans, thinking on their feet, understanding the social and political context, dealing with emotions, and reflecting and balancing rational objectives with considerations of legitimacy and equity. Mannings (2008) analysis of projects embeddedness in multiple contexts was based on a structuration perspective. Jackson and Klobas (2008) used social constructivist theories in researching the creating and sharing of knowledge. Sderlunds (2005) study of two high
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profile product development projects brought to the fore the importance of a knowledge perspective and a time perspective in analysing project work. Pitsis et al. (2003) draw on Future Present theory, the human ability of abstract visualization and projection into the future of present intentions, to explore building projects from idea to realization, and how stakeholders shape and converge on tangible, concrete ideas required for action. The interpretive paradigm has also underpinned recent scholarly work on programmes and programme management. Partington et al. (2005) used the phenomenographic method to explore programme managers different conceptions of and approaches to their work, elucidating theories-in-use in the performance of their work. Martinsuo and Lehtonen (2006) describe the sense-making processes within a public consortium in relation to the initiation, and subsequent early termination, of a programme originally intended to support the realisation of its strategy. Lehtonen and Martinsuo (2008) analyse the work done by key programme players in: defining and shaping programme boundaries; representing the programme and engendering legitimacy; information scouting and negotiating; ensuring continuity; and guarding and isolating the programme. Lehtonen and Martinsuo (2009) extend their earlier work to find that both integration and isolation are present and concurrent in the two organisational change programmes studied. Pellegrinelli (2011) proposes a social constructionist ontology for programmes as a way of differentiating them from projects, deemed lodged within, and as components of a programme usefully approached from, a functionalist perspective, so offering practitioners an alternative perspective on the management of complex societal and organisational changes. Radical Humanist or Critical Perspective Project management has also been studied from a critical perspective embedded in a radical humanist paradigm, highlighting the (predominantly functionalist) methodologys naturalisation within management rhetoric and its elevation to the status of unquestionable ideology: Critical authors suggest the need for a wider picture of what goes on in projects and project management by focusing on who is included in and who is excluded from the decision-making process, analyzing what determines position, agendas, and power of different participants, and how these different agendas are combined and resolved in the process by which the decisions are arrived at. (Cicmil and Hodgson, 2006, pp. 12). Hodgson and Cicmil (2006) have argued that the concept of a project and the discipline of project management have been socially constructed, a false concreteness attributed to projects. Projects managements purported capability to harness the skills and energy of otherwise (relatively) autonomous knowledge workers and deliver, in a controlled and efficient way, complex customised solutions has been valued with organisations facing rapid and unpredictable change. Hodgson and Cicmil (2006) argued that an iron cage of unquestioned project rationality has emerged and taken on ideological status. Project management bodies of knowledge and standards, subtly positioned as quasi-universal best practice, can and do implicitly take on the status of natural laws rather than pedagogical aids. The dominance of this view of projects and project management deters deconstruction and critique, marginalises other voices and exerts unacknowledged coercive forces (Hodgson and Cicmil, 2006, 2007; Hodgson, 2002, 2004). Critical authors problematise project

management, rather than accepting and augmenting its instrumental value in the service of a managerial agenda. Other authors have studied the rhetoric of project management from individuals perspectives. Lindgren and Packendorff (2006) analysed the narrative of project team members and found a contradiction between a masculine rhetoric in one-off, and therefore outside the norms, projects (e.g. rationality, efficiency, control, devotion to work) and a feminine rhetoric of family friendliness prevalent in permanent organizations. The gender perspective was also used as instrument of deconstruction and reflexivity of the field itself, in its methodological guidelines and the discourses of its practitioners (Buckle & Thomas, 2003; Thomas & Buckle-Henning, 2007). Clegg and Courpasson (2004) examined the narratives of project managers and unfolded other instruments of control perceived by project managers including reputational control, calculative control (administration as instrument of power) and professional control. Radical Structuralist Paradigm It would be a great stretch of the imagination to suggest that the field of project management has a radical structuralist tradition. Some authors and researchers, though, have touched upon the themes and tenets of this paradigm. Midler (1995) described the projectification of the firm, drawing on the example of the car manufacturer Renault. He highlighted the changes brought about by the introduction and increasing dominance of projects as permanent features of organisation structure. While positioned in evolutionary terms, the account alludes to shifts in power relationships and status, upheaval of the hierarchical decision-making processes, communicative difficulties (if not overt conflict) between projects and functional departments. Gareis (2004) has proposed management by projects, whereby activities can be translated into sets of projects and managed through project management methodologies, overhauling traditional hierarchical structures and ways of working. Maylor et al. (2006) extended the notion of projectification to programmification, reflecting the transition in many organisations to predominantly projectise work and the consequent need for structural and sense-making frameworks. The study of project management offices (PMOs) as formal organisational arrangements for the promulgation of project management methods, tools and professional discipline has also surfaced structural tensions and struggles for dominance. Aubry et al. (2007; 2008) and Hobbs et al. (2007) offered a contextual, historical approach to the study of PMOs, highlighting their precarious, often short-lived existence. They incorporated the dynamic relationships between organisational structure, strategy and organisational politics in their analyses and suggest that changes to PMOs form and function can fruitfully be seen as an historical process of creative destruction and co-evolution (Aubry et al., 2008, p. 43). The increasing diversity of theories and research lenses used to study projects and programmes speaks for their importance as constructs for undertaking work and bringing about change. Yet, our knowledge and understanding is not commensurate with the pervasiveness and centrality of projects and programmes in todays organisations and societies.

Research Objectives, Methodology and Case Summary The aim of research described in this paper was to add to our knowledge of the actuality of programmes, and their management, by exploring the actions and practices of managers involved in bringing about a significant organisational change. A single case was selected as it offered an opportunity for unusual access and because it was expected to be particularly revelatory (Yin, 2008) given it is a major transformational change conceived and organised explicitly as a programme. In conducting this longitudinal case study we were able to track, via the narratives of those involved supported by documentary evidence, an unfolding programme in the context of on-going strategic developments in a difficult and turbulent economic and social environment. This is an example of an instrumental case study (Stake, 1994), where the case is used to provide insight into a particular programme-based transformational change, with the purpose of advancing our understanding of programme management in general, not the organization in particular. An opportunity arose in 2008 to study a business transformation programme under way in a retail bank in a European country (referred to as CFS and Eurostat in this paper to maintain confidentiality). The CFS retail bank in Eurostat formed part of a large banking and insurance Group with retail and commercial banking operations in Europe and various other parts of the world, but operated with a degree of local autonomy and accountability. We had been working in a management development capacity for the Group for over three years, and knew the Programme Director. We formally requested and were granted permission to research the programme, subject to conditions of confidentiality and non-disclosure. The Programme Director and Board of the CFS Retail Bank saw our research as a way for them personally to reflect on their experiences and to glean insights from whatever analyses we might undertake. While we had some general knowledge of the Group, its strategy and how it managed its programmes, this was to be the first in-depth investigation of a major programme. The first set of in-depth (60 90 minutes) semi-structured interviews took place in May and early June 2009. A range of confidential documents, including the papers submitted by the Board for Group funding approval were provided for us to study and use in our analyses. (In the case description that follows, some of the business case numbers have been disguised while retaining the sense of scale of the programme.) The Programme Director (interviewed twice at the beginning and the end of our 2 days visit to CFS), the General Manager of the Retail Bank, the Operations Director and the Director of Products and Processes were interviewed face to face at the banks offices. A little later the Director of Marketing was interviewed on the telephone. Participants were briefed in advance in writing that the purpose of the interview was to provide them with a chance to share their perspectives on the change how it was conceived, how it has progressed, and what it has taken to make change happen. An outline interview guide was developed to help provide a broad structure for the interviews and a check list for the information to be collected, including: role within the bank; drivers for the programme; stakeholders; governance; benefits achieved to date; general reflections on progress of the programme. The intention was to encourage participants to share their thoughts freely, and the interview guide was not designed to be used rigidly other than for the formalities at the start (e.g. introductions, permissions, confidentiality). Interviews were recorded with permission and then transcribed by third parties. The transcriptions were checked and edited by us whilst listening to the tapes. The edited transcripts were read further prior to starting to code with the help of NVIVO software. We
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coded the transcripts independently, then met to discuss the codes and emergent themes. The codes and constructs were inductively derived, though it is important to recognise the influence of our professional experiences and knowledge of various literatures (e.g. programme management methods, change leadership, practices and routines). A case study (composite narrative) of the change programme, its origin, and the activities that sustained and shaped it was drafted based on our analysis and sent to the Board of the Retail Bank for their comments at the end of June. A final draft, with only minor amendments, was agreed by the Board of the Retail Bank late in 2009. We recognised that we had only gained the views of the Retail Board members and that this limited the validity of our findings given the potential for narrative biased by retrospective sense-making (Eisenhardt and Graebner, 2007). According to Eisenhardt and Graebner, this potential bias can be mitigated by working with highly-knowledgeable participants who view the focal phenomena from diverse perspectives (2007:28). Accordingly, we asked whether we could interview some of the managers reporting to the Retail Board members. A second set of face-to-face interviews was undertaken in March 2010 with this second layer of managers. The Head of Private Banking and the Head of IS, both on the Retail Board, were also interviewed at this time. As before, participants were informed of the nature and objectives of our research. We received documents (e.g. notes of Programme Board meetings, governance structures) in advance of the interviews. This set of interviews offered different perspectives and the opportunity to compare and contrast the different accounts, deepen our understanding of the programme and explore new questions. The interview guide was augmented to incorporate some of the themes that had emerged from the first stage of the study. Three themes were explored in particular: How the programme had unfolded (e.g. actual vs. planned, nature of changes, processes for setting direction, links to strategy and to business plans and priorities); The programme management processes and structures, their impact and effectiveness and their fit with and influence on with the organisational culture and routines; The connections/ interplay between the programme and the standing organisation and if/how it had changed and was changing.

The interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded. Emergent themes and questions for further exploration were identified. A third set of face-to-face interviews was conducted in June 2010 with the Programme Director, the General Manager of the Retail Bank, the Director of Products and Processes and the Head of Internet Offerings. Telephone interviews were conducted in early July with the Operations Director and the Director of Marketing. The interview guide was again augmented to incorporate some of the themes that had emerged from the first and second stages of the study. In particular, three themes were explored: The transformation over the previous 15 months; Reflections of how the programme has unfolded and its impact on the organisation; The future role and purpose of the programme and its relation with the standing organisation.

A second instalment of the case study (composite narrative) of the change programme was drafted based on the second and third sets of interviews and sent to the Board of the Retail Bank for their comments in December 2010.
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This combination of interviews and documentary information taken at different times provided a longitudinal element to the research, and the opportunity to compare the accounts of the same individuals at two points in time and to explore questions emerging from our analyses. To the extent that we are granted access, our intention is to continue tracking the evolution of the programme. The following sub-section provides a summary of the programme history and key themes, and is drawn from the two instalments of the case prepared for the Retail Bank. The CFS Retail Transformation Programme In October 2007, the CFS Group Board approved an investment of 130m over five years to transform the CFS Eurostat retail banking operation from a traditional bank to a modern, integrated distribution channel combining a new branch format with state-of-the-art internet banking. The combination of Face and Click was intended to transform CFS Eurostat Retail Bank, overcoming the scale disadvantages of being the number four player in the Eurostat market with 11% share, and positioning it as a major player for the future. The vision of the CFS Eurostat Retail Board was encapsulated in the strap-line: Direct when possible, advice when needed. The business case submitted for Group approval was the articulation of a vision that had emerged and been crafted over many years. At the heart of the vision was a plan to restructure most of the traditional bank branches into open, accessible environments (proxi branches) where customers could deal with their own (cash) transactions and could get advice from branch staff on new products or services. The target, by 2012, was to sell 50% of products direct and to generate 2/3 of the leads for the branch staff via the internet. The revenue growth was to be spearheaded by dedicated personal bankers in the retail segment, a new streamlined approach to professional banking and the introduction of predominantly direct insurance products. These changes were expected to have a significant impact, generating circa 90m in net new revenue from sales of banking and insurance products and savings of circa 30m per annum from efficiency improvements and lower cost branch operations, by 2012. The investment was expected to payback in three years (at the end of 2010) with the business having a positive net cash flow in 2009 and thereafter. The changes would affect over 4,500 staff employed across more than 550 of CFS Eurostats own retail branches (a further 250 branches being franchised operations), and lead to a significant reduction, retraining and redeployment of branch staff. The goal was for the strategy and anticipated benefits to be realised without compulsory redundancies. The Eurostat Retail Transformation Programme was broken into three phases: Build capabilities and showcase them gaining credibility: 2007 - 2008 Out the new positioning; loud and clear: 2009 Refine: 2010 2012

The CFS Group Board approval and funding marked the formalisation of a transformation process that had started some years before. The submission to the CFS Group Board reflected a need to make bolder, more public changes, and ultimately to overhaul the dated and uncompetitive Information Technology (IT) platforms provided by the Group Operations & IS Division. Over the previous years the General Manager of CFSs retail banking
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operation in Eurostat had become convinced that in Europe the cycle of falling interest rates was coming to an end, and when they started to rise it would signal more difficult times for the banking sector. Something significant needed to happen to deal with the cost disadvantages from the dated and expensive IT platform provided by OPS&IS Banking. He assembled a like-minded management team willing to embark on a programme of radical change. Each Friday was put aside for the Retail Board meeting, where the team reviewed what they had done, the status of the business and the detail of the future operating model. The scale and complexity of the change soon became clear. However, the organisation did not have the necessary discipline and maturity to define, coordinate and deliver specific elements of the change. The culture of the organisation was not supportive of such a big, embedded change. CFS Eurostat was staffed by nice, creative people who lacked execution discipline, felt empowered to make negative decisions (i.e. to stop work or not comply) and liked to dabble in internal politics. A Programme Director was recruited to sit on the Retail Board and to run the programme office and lead a small team of experienced change professionals. The programme office was tasked with helping the members of the Retail Board to manage the business and change the business at the same time. The Retail Board needed to win over hearts and minds, so the changes would be done by rather than done to managers and staff in the bank. The Net Account (internet-based savings account) launched in June 2007 was the first opportunity to test the markets reaction to a direct product from CFS Eurostat Retail Bank. Attracting 20,000 new customers by the end of 2007, it offered the first signs of success for the strategy. The decision was taken to transform the branch structure and to create 120 proxi branches by January 2009. New people were recruited in marketing to build the skills and processes needed by the new direct marketing operation: moving from about 50 direct market campaigns per year to a rate of 900-1000 highly targeted campaigns by the end of the year, focused on generating actual sales. Over the course of 2008, the rhythm of work in marketing picked up and industrialised processes were developed to allow them to manage the volume of campaigns. The central retail sales team was completely restructured and strengthened from January 2008 onwards. The new organisation was set up to support the future implementation of uniform product sales and fulfilment processes across all channels. It would, as of the 2nd January 2009, take over the steering of the entire salesforce in the branch network. In September 2008, a global financial crisis on a scale not experienced for decades unfolded suddenly and unexpectedly. Customers sought to spread their risks and benefit from government guarantees on retail deposits. CFS Eurostat, unlike some of its rivals, was perceived as relatively safe and a further 2bn of new money was invested in CFSs highinterest direct savings Net Account. CFS Eurostat rode its luck and capitalised on the market conditions. CFS Eurostats rivals found it difficult to react. Some were in financial difficulty. Others appeared not to have, nor to be prepared to invest in, the IT platform and process changes to facilitate a (more) direct business. The work done by CFS Eurostat over the previous years was not as easy to replicate as the interest rate changes and new product launches that had defined the nature of competition in previous decades. By the end of 2008, 55,000 more new customers were using the Net Account with up-take increasing month on month. Yet, sales through branches were not reduced, providing compelling evidence that direct sales were on top of the existing business and that the Face and Click model was really working.
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By the middle of 2009, the Eurostat Retail Transformation Programme had been largely financed through cost reductions and revenue growth. Some of the structural changes in the programme, such as branch conversions, had been industrialised with each conversion project having precise time, cost and quality parameters. Processes and routines had been adapted or created to serve the Direct where possible, advice when needed strategy, encapsulated in the high tempo direct marketing campaigns and proxi branch format. The sometimes long and gruelling Friday Retail Board meetings had ensured coherence and transparency. But CFS Eurostat had still to move from the quick and smart patching of existing processes and systems to robust, low cost straight through processing to sustain an increasingly direct business in the future. The scope for incrementally improving existing systems was reducing rapidly. By the Summer of 2010, the retail transformation was well under way with 320 smaller branches converted to the proxi format and a further 180 to be converted by 1/1/2012. The intention was then to convert the much larger, full-service branches to the proxi format that was proving to be widely appreciated by both customers and staff. The possibility of decoupling sales activity from the branches, so making further rationalisations and cost savings, was also being investigated. Over the previous three years CFSs market share in savings had increased by over 2.5%, and over the previous two years the business had grown its base of active customers by 160,000, a significant number given the size of the market and a history of static market share. The marketing team were running 3 to 4 targeted and tracked campaigns per days, and winning industry awards for direct marketing. Call centres became more prominent as the Face and Click approach was broadened and subtly reshaped as Face, Click and Call. The Retail Transformation Programme had become part of the fabric of organisational life, part of the routines and the language. The boundaries between planned programmatic change and evolutionary (business-as-usual) change blurred with the same managers responsible for both. The mirroring of the future senior management structures to the programme roles a year in advance of the change to the organisational structure on 1 st January 2009, had facilitated this seamless integration. Business targets and business results had been turned into performance targets and measures for the programme. The business was simultaneously implementing elements of the Retail Transformation Programme and improving elements already implemented. Yet, shadows loomed over the future of the Retail Transformation Programme, and its continued ability to bring about the changes that would transform the competitive position of CFSs Retail business and ensure its longer term viability and prosperity. The Retail Transformation Programme was being absorbed by a bigger, emergent programme, the One Bank Programme, intended to transform the whole of CFS Eurostat, including Corporate and mid-Corporate banking, and led by CFS Eurostats Executive Committee. The strong coalition that had driven forward the Retail Transformation Programme was being replaced by a senior management group, half of whose members were expected to retire within 18 months, including General Manager of CFSs retail banking operation, the architect of the Retail transformation. A compelling vision had yet to crystallise and it was not clear that the existing Executive Committee had the expertise, drive and commitment to realise the scale of change required to create a Direct Universal Bank capable of serving all clients via direct and traditional channels. The One Bank Programme has also closed off the possibility of the Retail business outsourcing its information systems or buying third party solutions. A CFS-wide solution
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was chosen, and would entail overhauling the systems in Eurostat over the next 5 - 10 years. Prospects of success were not good the IS/IT was still proving a bottleneck and lacked the depth of cutting-edge expertise in new technologies that would support the exploitation of the internet as a channel through self-service and straight-through processing. Moreover, the discipline imposed by the Retail Transformation Programme processes and governance arrangements was increasingly perceived within the Retail business as bureaucratic. Undercurrents of resentment could be felt. How the other parts of CFS in Eurostat would react to a programmatic approach to change, given their existing culture of providing responsive, personal and bespoke services, was still unknown. It was unclear whether the Retail Transformation Programme would become a beacon of direction and inspiration for CFS Eurostat, as hoped, or lose its focus and energy as part of a wider, slower process of change, lacking clarity of vision, unity of purpose and steadfast commitment. Views from the Paradigmatic Lenses The Retail Transformation Programme represents a significant, complex and multi-faceted undertaking, which has, and continues to have, a profound effect on virtually every aspect of CFS Eurostat Retail Banking. The interviews and documents have inevitably provided an immense amount of data, which was compounded by our desire to be open to emergent themes and to participants own views, conceptions and experiences. Our iterations of inquiry and inductive analysis have thrown up findings and questions, which we have sought to explore and make sense of using different paradigmatic lenses. In this section we highlight what we consider salient themes and insights, rather than attempt to answer specific research questions the task we have set ourselves in drafting other, more focused papers. Our aim, thus, is to share our findings and reflections, and so sensitise scholars, researchers and practitioners to possible ways of analysing and understanding organisational change projects and programmes. Functionalist Analysis Given the perceived lack of embedded capability for planned change within the Retail Bank, and CFS as a whole, the Retail Board took the decision to introduce and strictly enforce formal project and programme management approaches. The programme started with six basic work-streams, each one allocated to a value chain (a horizontal, process or product based slice of the organisation) to plan and deliver. The project and activities contained within each work-stream were underpinned by rigorous planning and quantitative cost/ benefit analysis, and were managed tightly. From a functionalist programme management perspective, three themes emerged as central to the success of the Retail Transformation Programme that may provide insights and/or guidance for other programmes. First, there was an insistence on a business case for each project within the programme which articulated a clear rationale for the project and was underpinned by thorough and comprehensive plans: every project needs to have its financials, not all have a positive business case...but a proposal is not a hope for an idea, its a plan which has to be nailed down. This promoted rationality and rigour we run a pretty rational programme, we like mathematics, and did not allow a schism to develop between the financial analysis, formerly undertaken primarily to secure authorisation to proceed and funding, from the execution strategy that was going to realise the anticipated benefits within the envisaged costs and
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timescales. The return on all aspects of the programme was scrutinised: if you cannot explain to me how I am going to make my money back (on this investment), you dont get the cheque. In terms of the affordability, of IT in particular, the line taken was increase the functionality on the platform we have rather than dreaming of new platforms that we dont have the money to pay for anyway. Second, there was strong and unified governance of the programme and the on-going business. The existing Retail Board meetings, which took place every Friday, were extended and used for managing the programme and the business as an integrated entity: We need to change the hearts and minds of the people who are in it living the business day by day and the only way to do that is to build a capability inside rather than next to it... every week we sit all day and we do the change, we are managing the programme but we are also managing the business as usual. The decision to basically do it together implied that anything which is out there is immediately back in the transformation plan... our strategic mindset is everyday change At these meetings the risk, and achievability, of certain initiatives was carefully weighed. In relation to the launch of the Net Account in June 2007, there was much deliberation over the organisations ability to deliver and the possibility of cannibalisation of the Banks branchbased business: How much risk will we take to make this work - we knew wed have a year of pretty tight deadlines on one hand and pretty anxious people on the other. The question was: Dare we do that? Third, the vision was of a self-financing, as far as practicable, programme and hence the focus on incremental benefit realisation. The investment of 130m over five years was intended to be a re-investment of cost savings rather than from the CFS Group. This, in part, influenced the choice and pace of developments, especially the decision first to transform the customer facing elements of the retail bank (e.g. branches and products), which generated early and tangible benefits, rather than embark on major IT systems up-grades, which would have consumed resources with no immediate payback. While the component projects in the Retail Transformation Programme were planned and managed rigorously, the programme itself did not exhibit rigidity nor a conformity to plans set out in October 2007 submission to the CFS Group Board. Rather, the programme was characterised by continuous trade-offs between different possible approaches with different benefit/cost/risk profiles and improvisation to make the best of the current situation: Its amusing to me to read the kind of business story that we wrote three and a half years ago, because in our heads we executed straight forwardly what we had thought, and if you look in bullet points we did. But then if you read the story that we had written on how this was going to work and so on, its already extremely out-dated. I would be embarrassed at it being published, but at the time it looked great. In many ways the experience of CFS and approach taken by its senior management conformed to the step posited by Kotter (1995) in relation to leading transformational change in organisations. General Manager of CFSs retail banking operation in Eurostat had generated a sense of urgency and built a strong coalition around a vision of transforming the
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Retail business, which was communicated ceaselessly throughout the organisation. Critically, it was a committed coalition, rather than an assembled or nominated Steering Group, able to communicate a vision, which had been discussed and elaborated in detail: They (Retail Board members) keep the vision, the unity about the vision and the implementation, for me its one of the crucial keys in the success. Kotters notion of empowering others to act on the vision, though, is much more circumscribed. The Retail Board orchestrated actions closely and at a micro level: We are in the strategy because we are making this change, but at the same time we are in the details because all this requires a lot of energy and knowing details means we can sort problems for people. The programme framework, through the focus on business cases, plans, and strict governance and control, channelled, delegated and directed the developments, complementing the evangelism of senior managers. The focus on incremental benefits realisation helped to ensure that the short-term wins generated tangible returns as well as evidence of progress, morale boosters and momentum. The financial performance and reactions of customers and staff suggest the change is unlikely to be reversed indeed more change is envisaged. The Retail Transformation Programme is expected to be subsumed within the One Bank Programme intended to bring about even more profound change to CFS Eurostat. Interpretive Perspective The prospective absorption of the Retail Transformation Programme by the One Bank Programme reminds us that an organisational construct, such as a programme, only exists and is sustained through a fragile consensus that it represents the best way of realising strategic goals or coordinating and deploying resources. Any construct operates within wider processes of sense-making, evaluation, politics and resource allocation. Its goals and existence may be contested and, given the exercise of sufficient power and influence, its boundaries may be dissolved and mission redefined. Once absorbed, the Retail Transformation Programme will inevitably lose a degree of its coherence, identity and concreteness, and therefore its potency, as its work-streams are reshaped and pan-CFS Eurostat decisions are taken, especially in relation to IT/IS: ... I am somewhat afraid that we will somewhat lose our identity within this new One Bank... We will be obliged to import some complexity in our way of working. Retail is about simplicity and quality of execution and streamlining processes and making them client friendly for the masses - for thousands, ten thousands, hundreds thousands of customers, not for one specific customer, which is more the approach of Wholesale and Corporate banking. In this case, the notion of identity relates simultaneously to the programme and the on-going business. The Retail Transformation Programme illustrates a duality of structure, present to varying degrees in projects, programmes and other constructs. They are simultaneously separate from and embedded within organisational (or societal) norms, processes and routines. In this case, the programmatic change elements were inextricably and seamlessly integrated into the on-going routines and decision making processes, and not just at senior management level:
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I have a program manager working for me now. But I made him part of my management team. I changed the management. He is now my deputy, in charge of IT, the process and change management team and quality management. That works fine because then you have the discussions in the management team and not separately in a project board. So the management understands what is happening and can create together the vision of what we are doing. The perceived ineffectiveness of the CFS Eurostat Executive Committee in directing the One Bank Programme becomes of paramount importance in this situation. The permeability of the Retail Transformation Programmes boundaries, that have enabled reciprocal influence, through information exchange, advocacy, sense-making and sense-giving, risks becoming a threat to, rather a source of, success. For most programmes, a degree of organisational separation is seen to be important to safeguard transformational visions, to shelter embryonic concepts from potential suffocation by the prevailing culture, and to protect time and effort allocated to programme activities from the demands of day-to-day priorities. We are yet to discover whether in this case the managers within the Retail Bank, engulfed within the One Bank Programme, will erect boundaries and strive to ring-fence the projects and developments they consider vital. Concerns over the effectiveness of the CFS Eurostat Executive Committee, despite the fact that three of its eight members were also on the Retail Board, also highlight that a programme is collectively enacted by key managers, and other contributors and collaborators. Their expertise, maturity and commitment are deemed fundamental by those who have lived through the Retail Transformation Programme: Is there a sufficient level of maturity at the Executive Committee to manage it the way it has been managed in the Retail Board? In all honesty, they are not even at the beginning of understanding what would be needed. Our Retail Board, we have each Friday, we start at ten and go on till seven oclock in the evening. This is completely missing at the level of the Executive Committee... everyone in their corner just looking after their own interests, and some of them are listening more to what the Group headquarters want... The transfer of good practice, as encapsulated in documents, templates and formal processes, provides guidance and discipline: We will need to work even harder than we did with the Retail Transformation. So we are setting up now the same framework: our weekly coordination, strict governance where the decisions are being made with those core teams. So we are setting that up as well for the One Bank because thats the only way this can work. If we dont have discipline, it wont work. Programme processes, governance structures, templates and techniques are resources to be drawn upon. They complement, rather than substitute for, the individual and collective understanding, learning, perspectives, judgement and commitment of those involved as they navigate a course through shifting strategic priorities towards desired outcomes. The case illustrates the centrality of the individuals, rather than the holders of organisational roles, in

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effecting transformations: sensing the need for, and direction of, change, crystallising a vision and embarking united on the journey. Widespread belief in the appropriateness of a course of action sustains legitimacy and a willingness on the part of organisational members to act, to discover, to adapt. The success associated with the Retail Transformation Programme, especially the Net Account and the feedback of customers in relation to the proxi branches, undoubtedly helped the Retail Board to implement changes that were perceived as necessary, albeit in some cases undesired: On the one hand the people who have a management function... are believers. The people in the branches, they say: OK we were sceptics, but it was the way that we should work as a bank, so its a good thing that the bank did this, now weve seen the results... We were very sceptic, but OK youre right... but were not engaged. If we conceive all projects and programmes as transformational, albeit on different scales and with variable levels of complexity we argue that some of the insights from the case of the Retail Transformation Programme may prove fruitful in shaping future practice. Radical Humanist Critique The Retail Transformation Programme has brought about a centralisation which may have pleased some but disempowered many others outside the Retail Board and the management tiers of the Bank: The fact that were really organised in a central way... The danger is that they see themselves as, or they think we see them as, robots: Now you have to do that, but nothing else, and if you see a client, you first have to say hello, then you have to smile... In the past every branch organised themselves as they liked. In the new structure is not possible. The direct approach has to be aligned with your sales approach in the branches. You dont want to have those different approaches in the branches. But the people say: We agree, were going to do that, but nothing else... this is not fun anymore. Its one of the things we have to work on a lot. The people say: OK, youre right, we didnt believe you, but point taken, the fact that we had RTP was OK, because when we went into crisis, into trouble, CFS Eurostat performed very well. But I dont feel involved. Unfortunately. The attribution of improved business performance to the Retail Transformation Programme has been incorporated into the managerial narrative for its need and for the necessary compliance to the changes it has brought, and continues to bring, about. Arguably, much of the initial business improvement associated with the Net Account in particular, could be viewed as CFS simply riding a wave of change triggered by the global economic crisis. Investors may have been less interested in CFS and the Net Account per se, and more in spreading their investments and benefiting from government guarantees in case of bank failures. This success story has served to lessen resistance and create the aura of self-evident correctness of the programme and what it was doing. The Retail Transformation Programme was not only the vehicle for creating a more rigid, prescribed and mechanistic way of working within the branches and central functions, such as marketing, it also modelled this new way of working through its formal processes and strict governance:
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CFS Eurostat used to be in a position where we could do an ad-hoc re-organisation and manage the collateral damage because we had fat.... Now were too thin to cater for accidents, so you need to install something to make sure that youre always right even in your change, before you put it in production... And thats also governance the fact that people have to come up with plans. Were not good at it. But it has been chosen as part of how we want the Bank to be: the planned machine. The detailed workflows and routines, predictability and control, characteristic of a direct banking operation striving for minimal or no human intervention, was imposed upon the staff in the proxi branches in the form of detailed scripts and scenarios for dealing with customers. Those working in the programme have been subjected to exacting scrutiny and sometimes harsh criticism: if you are not a quant and you go in there (governance board) you die. Tiers of governance were introduced to coordinate the work and to ensure adequate analysis and planning. The increasing burden of the Retail Transformation Programmes processes and governance, though, was also being experienced and resented by many tasked with programme work. Even some of its supporters by early 2010 were finding the bureaucracy excessive: One of the big traps is that you end up doing governance and not the project. If I look now at what is happening, governance is getting too important... all the paperwork and the bureaucracy, which has to be done, but it shouldnt get in the way of the result.... I understand why we are exaggerating a bit in IT, because we are lousy at implementing projects and programs... The pendulum - to get them in the middle, you need to go a bit more to the right, and thats what we are doing now... But we shouldnt do it too long. Let it (go) back to the middle, then keep on track. The managerial justification for processes and governance, supported by examples of failures and shortcomings, point the finger at individuals and their limitations: The more you lack know-how, the more paperwork you end up with, because everybody needs to write it down to understand it... Some of them use it because they see it as a way to get in control of their own destiny and some others use it to complain... Whenever somebody complains about governance, I think its always important to understand what exactly it is they are complaining about. Is it governance, or is it lack of know-how, or is it lack of risk taking and decision making? Such a narrative positions processes and governance as pedagogical aids, yet ignores the debilitating effects of suffocating governance. It offers the possibility of stepping outside the process, but implicitly aligns governance with considered decision making. To by-pass the governance is to take a personal risk, and the consequences such an action implies within a financial institution after the banking crisis of 2008. Yet, what were seen, and tolerated, as discipline and governance earlier in the programme, were being experienced, and described, as strictures and bureaucracy by 2010. The programme facilitating the transformation of CFS Retail Bank is at the same time creating rigidities through the suppression of human autonomy and expression. Individuals desire to shrug off oppressive control may limit the life of any top-down transformation, for if it
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endures the organisation may be condemned to a lingering death as the flame of creativity and enterprise is extinguished. Radical Structuralist Overview The subordination of individual discretion to the smooth and efficient running of the whole operation is a structural consequence of the on-going transformation of retail financial services, impelled by competitive forces, enabled by developments in information and communications technology, and shaped by inter-generational shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviour. Integrated, low cost, multi-channel retail banking will replace traditional branch banking, with even the change brought about by the Retail Transformation Programme being recognised as a brief respite: 800 branches and who would believe that we can maintain that over the next decade? Hmmm... maybe, for a while, but not necessarily, not given the fact that by then, who is now 30 will be 40 and who is 20 will be 30. The next steps explored are an extension of this transformation the decoupling of sales activities from the branches, which would enable CFS Eurostat to install its advanced ATMs (automated teller machines) in many diverse retail locations, both saving costs and increasing its physical presence. This novel fusion of static transactions processing, mobile face-to-face advice (sales), telephone based support and internet banking offering will undoubtedly also be subjected to powerful, and as yet unforeseen, forces of change. The Retail Transformation Programme serves as a coordinating mechanism, a structural form that not only directs the work of multiple workstreams, and the many projects contained therein, but importantly also marshals and integrates the on-going operations with the change activities: ...what the programme did very well last year was to really structure, for example, the agendas for the value chains... you discuss the run; how are things running, every day, what are your costs, what are your incidents. The Programmes attributes of enterprise-wide vision, rigorous planning and strict governance are also exerting pressure to turn the CFS Eurostats operations into a smooth running machine: ...branches where people can repair not completely smooth running things, and also in back offices and other places in the banks... The moment you are on the internet or you are servicing your customers via a call centre, in essence it has to be perfect. That means then that you have to design it and set it up... requires that you not only know your own area well, but that you know the whole chain well, or at least that you are capable... get all the parties from the whole chain working together to make the whole perfect, instead of everybody defending his own piece... Changing external forces have caused CFS, like other retail financial services firms, to adopt new structural forms to address the challenges posed. The value chain structure replaced more bureaucratic organisational models to streamline processes and to encourage innovation and targeted offerings. As the economic imperative has moved from customer-centric service to customer anticipation and empowerment, the Retail Transformation Programme, as a
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structural form, has supervised and enforced the management of the value chains simultaneously to change and to perfect their processes, and integrate their work. The Programme has become the dominant mechanism of control within CFS Eurostat Retail Bank. Programme structures capable of sustaining and optimising both continuity and transformation will increasingly replace or overlay current organisational arrangements. In the case of the Retail Transformation Programme, structural tensions between on-going operations and a temporary organisational framework have, in part, been contained by the duality of roles performed by the Retail Board. Despite its success as an organisational structure, the Retail Transformation Programme is exposed to wider organisational development, as illustrated by its prospective absorption of by the One Bank Programme. Programmes are subjected to change, their temporality may not defined by the achievement of a pre-determined objective, but by a superior way of organising. Societal and economic forces are combining to turn the punctuated equilibrium of previous decades into pulsed change. The recursive interactions of the increasingly temporary on-going operations and the more enduring temporary structures that structure and support their continuity and transformation have yet to be explored. Discussion, Limitations and Further Research The analysis, perspective, critique and overview depicted above from the paradigmatic lenses offer different glimpses into a multi-faceted phenomenon. Our aim has been to tell an unfolding story, as we moved from one paradigmatic lens to another, highlighting what the lens shows us, or enables us to perceive, that complements or offers an alternative explanation or narrative. We have chosen not to labour the obvious tensions that emerge from exploring a phenomenon from diametrically opposed paradigms. For instance, the discipline, order and control in the service of an organisation goal, seen from a functionalist paradigm, are construed as a form of subjugation and disempowerment from a radical humanist perspective. The centrality of agents such as the General Manager of CFSs retail banking operation in Eurostat, in perceiving changes in the market and driving forward the transformation, set within an interpretive paradigm is counterbalanced by the a more structural analysis. This plurality of explanations or conceptions, we believe, adds depth and richness. They hint at what we might overlook, or pay insufficient attention to, when lodged within our own paradigmatic assumptions and methodological preferences. Individually and collectively they add to our knowledge and understanding of programmes and programme management. From a practitioner perspective, the explanations or conceptions can inform their actions, provide different points of views and alert them to typically obscured consequences of the dominant functionalist paradigm. They may even help practitioners voice, as yet unarticulated, insights, doubts and concerns. We have used Burrell and Morgans (1979) analytical grid, given its wide-spread diffusion though not necessarily unanimous acceptance, to position research and schools of thought and the paradigms as lenses to analyse and make sense of our data. We have sought to make our inductive research methodology as inclusive as possible. Without wishing to enter a debate on paradigm commensurability or incommensurability, we acknowledge the need to adopt fundamentally different ontological and epistemological assumptions in conducting the research, and the challenge that this entails. We also acknowledge that our methodology, based on in-depth semi-structured interviews supported by documentary evidence may be
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deemed a compromise when scrutinised from within each of the paradigms, indeed reflecting our own philosophical preferences. The paucity of data that we could draw upon in undertaking our analyses from a radical structuralist perspective has highlighted to us the tendency to overlook the socio-historical context, even if we recognise the importance of organisational and cultural contexts, when we study project and programmes Clearly, a single case provides limited basis for analytical generalisation, and we do not claim that the case is representative. Yet, we argue that the analyses, insights or themes should not be dismissed out of hand as anecdotal or idiosyncratic. Rather, they should be a springboard for further, more detailed and comprehensive research, whether set within one paradigm or multiple paradigms. We offer our work as a multi-paradigmatic exploration of the narratives of managers at multiple-levels from within one case. In so doing we aim to sensitise future researchers to develop their work with an explicit acknowledgement of different ontological and epistemological perspectives. Our scholarly knowledge of project and programmes is out of line with their increasing use and centrality in bringing about purposeful and structured change. From a practitioner perspective, our research and other research to follow may motivate practitioners to be more reflective, more ethically aware, and more context sensitive. For instance, our work has hinted at the importance of identity, ascribed success or failure and the symbolism of projectbased work. This and further work might add richness to the functionalist notions of communication and organisational change management. Adoption of a truly holistic stakeholder perspective and corporate social responsibility demands critical self-scrutiny to expose unreflective commitment to a shareholder or managerialist agenda and the implicit disempowerment and coercive tendencies of project and programme management practices. Even accepting the legitimacy of a managerial agenda, incongruence between rhetoric and practice is likely to generate resistance and resentment. Attention to the socio-historical context, from subjectivist (e.g. the baggage from previous initiatives) and objectivist (e.g. external forces) paradigms appears important in navigating a course in uncertain times and circumstances. Final Thoughts Our personal ontological and epistemological commitments shape what we study, what we observe and how we account for it. Adopting alien commitments, however difficult and temporary, enables us to see anew. We return to our ontological and epistemological home enriched, perceiving previous limitations and blind spots, and stimulated to ask different questions. As scholars and practitioners, we may appreciate more and accept we know less. Perhaps multi-paradigmatism is the new form of pragmatism in our ever more complex and ambiguous world?

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