Burke-Litwin Model in relation to Organizational Change

Burke-Litwin Model in relation to Organizational Change

Today, many organizations are struggling to look for very creative ways in order to keep up with the competition, especially with the issues which have come up recently which include globalization and technology. Living in a globalized world has led to a need in having managers who are very innovative and able to think rapidly so as to meet with the various expectations and demands in an organization. Therefore, it is crucial to have an organizational structure which reflects the main ideals and objectives of an organization. An organization’s structure also reflects more on how effective it can be in reaching its full potential. In order to analyze the effectiveness of an organization one has to look at the structure of the organization and how it influences the organization’s current functioning (Martins & Coetzee, 2009).

Burke and Litwin came up with a conceptual framework which gives a view giving an explanation of the relationship of various features in an organization in relation to its effectiveness. The framework is able to predict the performance and behavioral consequences (Martins & Coetzee, 2009). According to Burke and Litwin, there are twelve major factors which influence an organization’s performance; they include the external environment, leadership, mission and strategy among others. These twelve factors that influence the performance in an organization will be further explained during the analysis of CGIAR Gender Equity and Organizational Effectiveness Case Study (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

In order to change the organizational structure, the main  aspects which were looked into  include gender sensitivity which can result into an equitable working environment and at the same time engage both men and women in the process of decision making. All contributions which are made from both sexes, male or female, were to be valued equally (Merrill-Sands, Fletcher & Acosta, 1999). When one analyses the Burke-Litwin model, he or she has to assess the change in the whole organizational structure as a wider institutional background (Wilson & Beaton, 2003).

The case study focused on gender issues but it has also, at the same time, managed to look at how the organization’s performance can be affected by gender inequity. When you link gender equity, performance and objectives, it provides a need for change aspects such as the kind of leadership commitment and support and the stakeholders of the organizations (Merrill-Sands et al., 1999).

By focusing on the gender equity it shows that there is a lot of concern on the internal factors that affect organizational performance. The Burke-Litwin model links the performance of an organization by looking at both the internal and external factors. Therefore, the case study can be related to the Burke-Litwin model because it demonstrates external and internal organizational dimensions which are important in order to achieve successful change (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

According Burke and Litwin, total organizational change aspects such as leadership, strategy, and culture have more impact than the structure. Having leaders to communicate on the various changes that have occurred is not enough. An organization, therefore, has to introduce culture change which has to be well implemented and planned. It is possible to change the structure without affecting the whole system (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

According to Burke and Litwin, the external environment is one of the twelve dimensions of their model. When there is any change in an organization, one has to look at the external factors and how it can influence the structure of the organization. The external environment and conditions may include political circumstances, market places and the world’s current financial conditions (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

The mission and strategy of an organization is what the leaders of an organization determine or declare. On the other hand, the employees also have a role in determining the mission and strategy of an organization. A mission statement is important especially when it is written down so that both the leaders and the employees focus on it as it helps in boosting the organization’s performance. The strategy of an organization comes in where the leaders state how the objectives and goals of an organization are meant to be achieved. A strategy has to be developed in relation to the external environment, the corporate culture and the organizational structure (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

Leadership is another important dimension in the Burke-Litwin model. The leaders in the organization are the ones who give a direction and also act as role models for the rest of the employees. The values and perceptions that leaders in the organization show impact on the changes made.

Culture in an organization refers to how things are done in a particular institution. When there is change in an organization, some aspects such as culture have to be looked into; this is because where there is change, the way activities were conducted previously will have to change. Thus, it is crucial to understand an organization’s customs and values (Burke & Litwin, 1992). According to the case study, the factor of culture which was looked into, for instance, concerning the participation of an employee and how it would increase ones job status (Merrill-Sands et al., 1999).

The function of different employees is known as the structure of the organization. Different employees have different levels of responsibility, for instance, when it comes to the authority that one may have when making decisions. When there is change in the organization, you find that the roles of some particular employees change; some may have more authority than they had before changes are made in the organization. The structure of an organization shows the hierarchy of an organization especially when it comes to decision making procedures (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

The management practices in an organization also matters when it comes to the diagnosis of architecture of an organization. The senior managers’ actions in utilizing both the material and human resources at their disposal are known as the management practices. An example of a management practice can be whereby the managers encourage the employees to be more innovative in the way they complete their given task (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

There are also standardized policies that facilitate the work done by workers. Mechanisms in an organization are put in place so as to enable workers to perform better, these mechanisms put in place are also known as systems. Management information systems in an organization help human resources officers to have information regarding the performance of the employees. This helps them in monitoring and evaluating any change in an employee’s performance so that they can take immediate action (Burke and Litwin, 1992).

The climate within an organization is very important; it determines the relationships between employees in an organization. There are particular feelings and expectations that employees may have towards each other. These feelings can either help in the achievements of the specified targets in an organization or create harmony (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

The tasks given to a particular employee is greatly determined by their capability or ability. Therefore, an employee should not be given tasks that they cannot manage at all. According to the case study, both males and females are regarded as equally the same in terms of their capability of fulfilling the same tasks that both men and women can do. There is a lot of emphasis against discrimination of women in the organization, especially when it comes to holding senior managerial positions (Burke & Litwin, 1992).

There are also some psychological factors that determine the action of an individual, for instance, the individual needs and values. According to psychologists, jobs which are enriched improve the motivation of the employees. Hence, it is very important to understand the needs and values of employees. Any change in the organization has to put into consideration the needs and values of employees, for instance, the need for both men and women to equally be seen as a valuable asset to the organization (Burke & Litwin, 1992). Employees who are rewarded feel motivated in making more effort in their daily performance (Cooper & Locke, 2000).

Individuals tend to have needs which make them feel more satisfied. Motivation is what drives employees in making achievements. An organization needs to do more research on what really motivates the workers; according to Lewin, “No action without research, no research without action” (Latham, 2007, p. 1028). Employees feel highly motivated when they have made many achievements, the power that they have and most importantly, the appreciation that they get from their supervisors (Burke & Litwin, 1992). When you look at the case of gender in the study conducted, there is a need to adapt various policies and procedures for women’s needs, for instance, through introducing a type of training in gender sensitivity.

The twelfth dimension of the Burke-Litwin model is also known as an individual’s and organizational performance. An organizational general performance is indicated by the productivity, customer satisfaction, and profit among others. If an organization is doing well in terms of its various goals and achievements, this means that individuals are doing well. Therefore, an individual performance can determine the performance of the organization as a whole (Burke & Litwin, 1992). The research does not look only into the gender equity as a form of change which will only affect the women alone, but also how the organization’s performance will be further enhanced through gender equity. Gender equity can help in bringing up diverse ideas in order to bring about change within the organization.

According to Burke and Litwin’s model, in an organization, there is the transactional and transformational dynamics. The transactional dynamics is linked to the general management while the transformational management is related to the leadership within the organization. The transformational dynamics include culture, performance, performance leadership, external leadership and mission and strategy. On the other hand, transactional dynamics include the everyday exchanges and interactions in relation to the organization’s climate, for instance, management practices, motivation and individual’s values and needs (Falleta, 2005).

According to the case study, the organization has a culture which discriminates against women a lot, this culture does not value the role that women have to play in the performance of the organization. Values concerning the gender and the role that it has in the functioning of the organization has limited the change in the structure and systems of the organizations. Therefore, these values have created a lot of inequity in the organization; this inequality that has existed has also led to low motivation amongst women.


Burke, W. W., & Litwin G. H. (1992). A causal model of organizational performance & change. Journal of management 18 (3)523-545.




Cooper, L., & Locke, E. (2000). An industrial and organizational psychology. Massachusetts: Blackwell.

Falleta, S. (2005).Organizational diagnostic models: A review & synthesis. Retrieved on the 7th of January 2012 from:http://www.iei.liu.se/fek/frist/723g16/files/1.120328/Orgmodels.pdf.

Latham, G. P. (2007). A speculative perspective on the transfer of behavior science findings to the workplace: The times they are a- changin. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 1027 -1032. Retrieved 7th of January 2012 from: http://www.cebma.org/wp-content/uploads/Latham-A-speculative-perspective-on-the-transfer-of-behavioral-science-findings-to-the-workplace-AMJ.pdf

Martins, N., & Coetzee, M. (2009). Applying the Burke–Litwin model as a diagnostic framework for assessing organizational effectiveness. SA Journal of Human Resource Management 7(1), 1-13. DOI:10.4102/sajhrm.v7i1.177

Merrill-Sands, D., Fletcher, J. K., & Acosta, A. (1999). Engendering organizational change: A case study of strengthening gender-equity and organizational effectiveness in an international agricultural research institute. In Gender at Work: Organizational Change for Equality. Edited by A. Rao, R. Stuart, D. Kelleher. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press.

Wilson, D., & Beaton, L. (2003) Promoting institutional & organizational development DFID Department for International Development. Retrieved on the 7th of January 2012 from:



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