From Small to Open Offices

Andreas Kok & Martin Læssøe Møller

Student thesis: Master thesis


In this paper, we will be examining how a municipal human resource department has handled the transition from smaller offices to an open space organization. We will be trying to answer the question of: How the human resource departments management has handled the transition from small to open offices and how the culture has effected this change? How the sensemaking is with the staff and how the management talks about it? Other studies have found a negative connection between open space offices and elements like face to face communication, job satisfaction and production output. In this single case study, however, we found general acceptance and satisfaction with the new office organization. The primary data sample for this study is gathered through nine semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted over several days and each interview lasted between forty-five minutes and an hour and twenty minutes. These interviews were afterwards sorted in themes which laid the foundation for the analysis. The data is analyzed through four smaller analyzes. The first one concentrates around change management. With the use of Kotter, Borum and Kahneman and Tversky, the management of the change is analyzed. The second analyzes focuses on the culture in the department and whether or not it is favourable for maintaining the change. To analyze the culture, we will use Schultz interpretation of Schein's concept of culture. The third part will try to show the general sensemaking in the department, and how it can be viewed as split in two. To do this we will use Weick and his sensemaking theory. Lastly, the fourth part of the analysis will examine the narrative patterns we see and how the management has used them to guide the transition. This will be done through a collaboration of Dennings eight narratives patterns and Van Geukens terms about what a narrative is capable of and how to use it. The result is that the transition has been successful and that the culture is, and was, beneficial for this. The sensemaking leads to a division of the department in two. The management was successful with their narrative about the change and helped the staff to overcome it but does not talk about the division we observed.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages114