This thesis assumed the necessity of organizations having to be flexible in respect to mastering variation and unexpected circumstances. Organizations’ ability to alter the number of workers, or to vary the intensity of workers’ workload in a smooth way, is generally a prerequisite for flexibility. In addition to being able to change, organizations must also have the capacity to obtain development through change. The need for organizational flexibility places high demands onto the individual, and she/he must balance own needs in proportion to the needs of the organization. Organizations’ strive for flexibility is often achieved at the expense of the individuals’ working conditions. An individual experience Positive Organizational Change (POC) when she/he calculates that change offers a good cause, both with regard to benefits for the organization and for the individual her-/himself. The optimal way of attaining POC in workers’ experience is through involvement and participation. Such actions normally bring understanding and reliance to the relation between the individual and the organization, and are related to sustained job-related mental health. Based on work-life learning theories, the individual actively reflects on her/his experiences from organizational change. The proposed notion of this thesis was that the individual develops change competence when experiencing organizational change. Thus, the overall objective of the thesis was to study contributory factors behind the developing of change competence. Another objective was to study change competence in relation to conditions for sustaining job-related mental health during organizational change. The above complexity was studied in connection with a large scale merger that took place within the Försäkringskassan. A longitudinal approach was used in order to explore premises of the development of change competence as well as prerequisites for job-related mental health over time. A questionnaire was answered by a selection of employees close in time before, during and after the merger. Aiming to explore how the individual develop change competence, an extreme group approach was used identifying individuals with extremely high and low values of change competence.
The results showed that change competence development can be predicted by personal premises (e.g. gender, educational level, hierarchical position) and change-related premises (e.g. readiness for change, earlier change experiences and turnover intentions). Studying main effects over time for each of the extreme-group in relation to the prerequisites for job-related mental health over time resulted in the discovery of a correlation between change competence and the prerequisites. The extreme-groups that reported low mean value or negative change competence development also reported the experience of poor prerequisites for job-related mental health in the psychological work environment over time. The reversed situation applies to individuals that report high mean value or positive change competence development. The results are dicussed in relation to aspects of the oganizational structure, learning, resistance, psychological contract, and resilience.
Lund: Institutionen för psykologi, Lunds universitet , 2010. , 138 p.