Observing Possibilities. A Function-Analytical Approach to Organizational Change


  • René John Leibniz Universität Hannover
  • Jana Rückert-John Universität Hohenheim




organizational change, learning, failure, management, functional analysis


The following study is based on Niklas LUHMANN's organizational theory. LUHMANN's theory provides an analytical framework for the comparison of different organizations as structurally equal entities. The assumption that only successful decisions are registered by an organization as a basis for following decisions stirs curiosity about the results of unsuccessful decisions. The study asks for management strategies to cope with non-success. The authors analyze examples for unsuccessful change management in several organizations of eating out using the functional analysis as an analytical strategy. The analysis is based on several guided interviews undertaken with the individuals responsible for the kitchens of their organizations. Thereby the failure to establish the use of organic food products appears in a different light: namely as a powerful opportunity for reflection and improvement. Targeting such examples provides more potential for learning than best practice cases. In the following, the widespread hesitancy to use unsuccessful examples is discussed in regard to organizational expectations. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1003225


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Author Biographies

René John, Leibniz Universität Hannover

René JOHN, Dr., is a researcher currently concerned with problems of identity in an interdisciplinary perspective of sociology, social psychology and linguistics at the Leibniz-University Hannover. Main areas of research: collective and personal identity, social change and innovation, organizational sociology, methodological problems of social systems theory, methods of qualitative research.

Jana Rückert-John, Universität Hohenheim

Jana RÜCKERT-JOHN, Dr., teaches sociology of food and gender at the University Hohenheim. Main areas of research: sociology of food, gender, sustainability, organizational sociology.




How to Cite

John, R., & Rückert-John, J. (2010). Observing Possibilities. A Function-Analytical Approach to Organizational Change. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-11.3.1546