Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Management

Committee Director

Wolfgang Pindur

Committee Member

Gail Johnson

Committee Member

Gail Johnson

Committee Member

Pat Konepnicki


The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors associated with organizational change and with sustaining change in public sector organizations recognized for their change efforts as recipients of the Virginia Award for Continuing Excellence.

This was a case study of three public sector organizations, located in and around urban settings in the state of Virginia. They include Air Combat Command located in Hampton; Hanover County Public Schools located outside Richmond; and Norfolk Naval Shipyard located in Portsmouth. Each of these organizations is notable as winners of the Virginia Senate Productivity and Quality Award for both the Medallion and Award for Continuing Excellence. The theoretical propositions are based on the Big Three Model of Change. These propositions include kinds of environmental movements (internal, external, and political), forms of change (identity, coordination, and control), and action roles (strategist, implementor, and recipient). Data collection on each case study came from archival files, documentation in the form of books, articles, brochures, and video presentations about the organizations, and interviews with key informants employed by the organization during and after the award period of time.

The triangulation of data on these case studies suggested several factors that are associated with organizational change across all three public sector organizations. The factors include the political dimension, along with coordination of teams, plans, and training. A third factor is control which is a form of change that results in policy changes and is impacted by the influence of action roles. The fourth factor associated with organizational change, that was evident in each case, is the implementor action role.

Within the three major dimensions of the Big Three Model of Change were other theoretical propositions that were supported by one or two data sources across all case studies. These other propositions did not provide the strength of the triangulation of evidence. However, each theoretical proposition was supported by one or two data sources and is worthy of note in identifying factors associated with organizational change. These other factors are the external and internal environment, strategists, and recipients.

The test of sustained change was based on the theoretical propositions and five Award for Continuing Excellence criteria. Evidence to support the change factors of coordination and control was found in the archival files that referred to the continuous improvement and performance measurement award criteria. The archival files also included examples to support the theoretical propositions of strategist, implementor, and recipient and the related award criteria that referred to: top management commitment, employee development, and customer and supplier involvement. Archival references to the award criteria, the maturity of effort and results over time, in these organizations are further evidence of successful change, while interviews and documents offer strength to the evidence in the archival files.

The research supports the Big Three Model of Change as a theoretical model that contains factors associated with change and sustained change in public sector organizations recognized for their past organizational change efforts.