Voices of Hope, Voices of Cynicism: Using Q Methodology to Interpret Complex Attitudes towards Organizational Change
Operant Subjectivity , Volume 23 - Issue 3 p. 147- 169
The metaphor of voice is wed to explore attitudes of members of a manufacturing firm enmeshed in a constant flux of leading edge change recommended by external consultants. Q methodology, complemented by a discursive perspective on organizing, provides a rich understanding of the dynamic processes surrounding workplace changes. Insights could be gleaned about the participants’ beliefs and assumptions and the origins of each point of view by intertwining qualitative and quantitative analyses, using ethnographic data to develop the Q instrument, and later returning to traditional ethnographic analysis to interpret the Q results. Two voices were of special interest because of their influence on the change process. A hopeful voice occurring throughout the organization enthusiastically supported the recommended changes. A second, more complex voice emanated from long-time union workers and technical support staff in the production areas who accepted hope, but were cynical regarding management's commitment to implementation of changes. These individuals expressed a desire to change, but indicated pressures that needed to be addressed to make changes possible.