Action Research Project- Organizational Restructure

Action Research Project: Organizational Restructure

BUS 370

Organizational Development

Action Research Project: Organizational Restructure

Organizations implement change for a number of reasons; however, they often require an expert to ensure the implementation process goes smooth. As the Organizational Development (OD) consultant for the Pacific Air Analysis Cell (PAAC), my goal is to help the organization understand, plan, implement, and evaluate change within their organization. To build their capacity for future problem solving, I have developed an outline of the planned change process, known as action research, to assist the client’s decision and implementation. This action research addresses PAAC’s progression of problems, assesses and diagnoses their needs, proposes an intervention strategy, and recommends an evaluation approach.

Problem Identification

Description of the Organization

The PAAC is a vital asset to the United States Department of Defense that provides analytical assessments of foreign countries’ air operations within the Pacific region. It is subordinate to the Pacific Operations Center (POC) and acts as an intelligence hub for many regional organizations. Since its establishment in the 1940s, the PAAC maintains a traditional, functionally organizational structure comprised of three teams: Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Each team offers specialized knowledge and skills to address the different components of a typical military air force.

Context of the Problem

Over the last year, PAAC’s production rate increased 45% due to the rise in interest from their customers. New products were introduced, and the workload nearly doubled. As an initial response, they submitted a request for additional manpower but was denied due to overall workforce constraints within the Department of Defense. Since then, PAAC struggled to maintain timely production output so their leadership directed a unit performance evaluation to identify the root cause. The lead manager believes the teams are equally overworked and are in need of some time away from the work center to relieve stress; however, the following assessment was conducted and diagnosed with a different set of organizational needs.

Needs Assessment and Diagnosis

Data Collection

Collecting data includes two distinct research methodologies: qualitative and quantitative. According to Bierema (2014), qualitative research explores the nature of how things occur and aims to build meaning and understanding, while quantitative research focuses on measuring the amount or frequency of occurrences to describe group characteristics. Both methods were used to collect data.

Qualitative Methods. The primary method for data collection was qualitative research because it allows consultants to investigate the reasons people attribute to their actions, behavior, and interactions with others (Crossman, 2020). Data collection began with direct observation of daily operations. Particular attention was given to how each member interacted within their team and then how each team interacted as a whole. Observations of overall climate, working relationships, and reactions to authoritative orders were logged during walk-arounds, meetings, and interactions with customers.

Additionally, focus groups and individual interviews were conducted to gain insight into members’ perceptions of the unit’s mission, products, structure, and leadership. Three sessions of focus groups were conducted in groups of mixed members from Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. To ensure the sessions generated valuable responses and discussion, members with the highest performance ratings were selected first, followed by members with management and leadership backgrounds. After the focus group sessions, individual interviews were also conducted with every unit member. These sessions aimed to gain personal feedback without influence or distraction from co-workers.

Quantitative Methods. Based on the initial trending topics collected from the qualitative research, a standardized questionnaire was completed by every member, including leadership this time. Survey response options scaled from completely agree to completely disagree. Finally, performance reports and customer feedback forms were examined. This concluded the OD data collection.

Data Analysis

Analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data collection methods revealed three consistent issues across all three functional teams: unfair task distribution, poor cross-functional communication, and declining job satisfaction.

Task Distribution. Weekly performance reports from the past three months revealed unequal task loads between the three teams. Alpha topped the list with an average task count of 30 a week, while Bravo averaged 15 a week, and Charlie averaged ten a week. Overall, considering the number of positions allocated to each team, Alpha’s task load roughly estimated to 25% more than Bravo’s and 50% more than Charlie’s.

Additionally, interview and survey feedback on task load was different from each team. Alpha complained mostly about having an excessive task load compared to the other teams, Bravo complained about not having enough employees to complete their task load, and Charlie complained about not having enough tasks and feeling undervalued. While all three teams viewed their task loads differently, they all attributed the recent changes in leadership and product improvement efforts as the cause of their complaints.

Cross-Functional Communications. Focus group, interview, survey, and observation results show that communication is often withheld or misunderstood between the three functional teams. When asked during the surveys to rank the importance of each team’s contributions to their products, every employee perceived their team as the most important. When also asked to describe their daily relationships with the other teams, 85% of employees had neutral or negative responses based on their knowledge of the other teams’ roles and responsibilities.

Similar issues have been identified in other functionally structured organizations. By departmentalizing teams by function, employees become overly focused on their own goals and tend to neglect the challenges other teams are facing. This isolation weakens the common bond between the teams and is harmful to effective communication (Gleeson, 2019). Due to the recent increase in production requests that require constant collaboration between all three teams, effective communication is essential to providing PAAC’s customers accurate and timely responses.

Job Satisfaction. Survey results show a growing trend in dissatisfaction with their job. Alpha and Bravo employees mostly claimed their work was too repetitive, while Charlie employees mostly claimed their job did not provide enough opportunities for personal or professional growth. Additionally, 75% of all the employees admitted to feeling their work was not serving a meaningful purpose.

Proposed Organizational Development Strategy

Upon review of the data analysis and collaboration with the management team, we propose an organizational-level restructure intervention. Although the data collection identified several personnel issues, the root cause stems from how the teams are organized. This organizational redesign will change from a functional structure and transform into a divisional structure, creating product-related divisions integrated with members from Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. The strategy for implementing this change focuses on its potential benefits, anticipated resistance, required resources, and timeline.

Potential Benefits

While changing PAAC’s organizational structure may seem overwhelming, it presents an OD opportunity to efficiently and effectively regain control of the unit. According to the MeanThat (2015), a functional structure can survive long-term only if there are a small number of similar products. Due to the growing demand for different products and the challenge of continuous turnover, a divisional structure is best suited to arrange PAAC’s human capital. Additionally, the unique benefits of separating Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie into multi-functional divisions outweigh the demand for specialization while addressing all three of the core personnel issues.

Task Distribution. A divisional structure equalizes the task-to-team ratio by distributing all tasks throughout each division. The nature of each task still dictates its assignment, but the entire division now becomes responsible for task completion. This approach allocates responsibility to all division members and inspires cooperability to accomplish the product as a team.

Cross-Function Communication. A divisional structure eliminates the barriers between Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie and promotes a healthy culture for collaboration. According to KaiNexus (2019), creating a more collaborative environment can level the playing field, increases engagement, challenge traditional processes, and spur innovation. Every employee gets a fresh perspective of the other functions’ roles and contributions to the unit’s overall goals that will build relationships of trust and respect.

Job Satisfaction. A divisional structure also combats monotonous and repetitive work cycles. As employees progress through collaborative projects, they will inevitably be exposed to each other’s different ways of thinking and working. These different points of view counter personal limitations and offer tremendous opportunities for personal and professional growth. This structure emphasizes the importance of teamwork and how the entire team influences the unit’s mission.

Anticipated Resistance

As in every OD process, while there are driving forces of change, there are also forces that cause resistance. Lewin’s change theory states that change cannot occur unless the driving forces cause the current state to shift toward the desired vision (Bierema, 2014). Weakening the resisting forces creates a pathway for the driving forces to achieve success. Here is a force field analysis depicting the driving forces and anticipated resisting forces.

Required Resources

Fortunately, this strategy does not require many external resources for implementation. Instead, it depends on the ability of PAAC’s internal management to prepare the unit for change, starting at the individual level. Using Lewin’s model of change, actions must be taken to move from the unfreezing stage to the moving stage. To begin this process, leaders and change agents must promote consistent education and communication, participation and involvement, and facilitation and support (Lunenburg, 2010). Employees need to understand the discrepancy between the unit’s current state and the desired state before they can be ready to change (Bierema, 2014). While these approaches can make change readiness easier, the message must be focused on weakening the resisting forces to allow the driving forces to propel the intervention forward.

Additionally, members will require training on the new divisional hierarchy and reporting procedures before changes occur. Since the members are maintaining their functional positions within the division, job training is not necessary unless management decides to change staffing. As the OD consultant, my services remain available throughout the timeline.


The estimated timeline for a complete and successful OD intervention is eight weeks. The first three weeks is dedicated to the unfreezing stage. This period allows members to learn about the different aspects of the change, reflect on their personal thoughts, and communicate concerns. This stage is the longest because it is essential for every member to be ready and willing to move onto the moving stage.

When the unit is ready to move into action, the next two weeks provide members sufficient opportunity to become familiar with their new environments. Bierema (2014) acknowledges that members may use this time to identify with new role models and learn new strategies for achieving their goals. The goal at the end of this period is for the members to experience first-hand trusting relationships with their new team and leadership.

Finally, the last three weeks support the refreezing stage. Key progress points for these three weeks include anchoring the changes into the unit culture, develop ways to sustain the changes, continue providing support and training, and celebrate success (Mind Tools, n.d.). To help ensure that change is sustained and the intervention efforts last, the OD team is responsible for evaluating return of investment from the intervention.

Suggested Evaluation Approach

           Two types of evaluation are conducted during the intervention: formative and summative. Formative evaluation takes place throughout the entire OD cycle and acts to inform the OD team of issues as they occur. Foster (2018) urges OD practitioners to employ mechanisms that measure the progress of how the organization is evolving and which initial plans will need adjusted. This degree of monitoring requires at least one staff member, preferably two, in each team to record intervention achievements and deviations.

Summative evaluation is likely to occur near the end of the refreezing stage, assessing the extent to which the OD intervention was able to deliver the results as planned and agreed upon (Foster, 2018). These metrics can help the OD team and PAAC leadership to understand which resources, delivery systems, and support networks were effective. Finally, results from the summative evaluation can also help capture notable achievements from the unit members. Recognition of these achievements, or advocacy of them, can be used as a motivational tool which reinforces their acceptance to the change.


           Action research raises organizational awareness of how to collect, analyze, and apply data to make the most informed decisions. After identifying an organizational problem, qualitative and quantitative data is collected and analyzed to further investigate the root cause. Based on those results, a strategy is developed which explores the benefits, anticipated resistance, required resources, and estimated timeline of the desired intervention. Finally, formative and summative evaluation methods are established to measure effectiveness, highlight issues, and help the organization take necessary corrective actions. This action research document demonstrates the entire intervention process and will contribute to helping the PAAC learn the rationale and logic behind it.


Bierema, L. (2014). An introduction to organizational development. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Crossman, A. (2020, February 2). What Is Qualitative Research? Retrieved from

Foster, C. (2018, February 19). The Evaluation Phase. Retrieved from

Gleeson, P. (2019, January 25). Benefits & Disadvantages of a Functional Organizational Structure. Retrieved from

KaiNexus. (2019). Cross Functional Collaboration in a Culture of Continuous Improvement. Retrieved from

Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Forces for and Resistance to Organizational Change. National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal, 27(4), 1–10. Retrieved from

MeanThat. (2015, September 10). From Functional to Divisional Organizational Structure [Video]. YouTube.

Mind Tools. (n.d.). Lewin’s Change Management Model: Understanding the Three Stages of Change. Retrieved from