University of Technology Sydney

26821 Strategic Transformation

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Business
Credit points: 3 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


More than ever, organizational leaders must be proactive, capable to sense and anticipate economic, environmental, social and cultural shifts, in order to imagine and enact a sustainable and future-fit vision. Yet, the way in which organizations operate is often taken-for-granted, based on tacit assumptions, close perspectives and inertia. By contrast, frame-breaking change can completely alter how organisations operate by reorienting their strategic purpose. This happens through a dynamic technique of agenda-setting, creating the conditions for engaging people to take a different perspective and the design of enabling processes that set change in motion. In this subject, students learn how to reset the agenda, embracing the complexity of change and learning how to identify intrapreneurial opportunities.

Achieving these results requires learning to navigate the unique organisational context in which one is embedded, learning how to create the conditions for change, engaging key decision makers, sponsors and stakeholders. The subject draws on contemporary concepts from change management, leadership theory and practice, organisational behaviour, human resource management and psychology, to enrich learners’ perception of the complexities and dynamics of change. Students are able to personify their distinctive ethos, style and acumen to lead change, accomplish and maintain sustainable performance by attracting and harnessing the ingenuity of the people.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
1. Develop critical understanding of the impact of strategic leadership, power dynamics and implementation practices upon organizational change processes
2. Demonstrate knowledge and skills required to develop strategic transformations, taking into account the perspectives of key stakeholders
3. Articulate a philosophy of organizational change that balances commercial viability and social responsibility of management

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The subject contributes to understanding how organisations can proactively respond to disruptive change, sustaining viable business models. It contributes to the ability of students to frame and manage change processes, and to navigate the complexity of transformation. It sensitizes students to the need to consider the perspectives of key stakeholders when planning and implementing change strategies.

This subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attribute(s):

  • Social responsibility and cultural awareness
  • Professional and technical competence

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject is offered in blended learning mode during the short teaching periods of six weeks duration. The teaching and learning approach is a mix of online learning and in-class seminars typically scheduled over three evening seminars. Classes are based on blended and flipped learning approaches: students engage with learning materials (including papers, book extracts, videos, etc.) before attending seminars. Seminars include guided critical discussion of learning materials, group work on contemporary case studies, scenarios, workshops, peer discussions and learning from students own professional experiences. Discussions and application of theory, case studies and best practices are supported by online learning and communication tools and the UTS learning management system.

Throughout the subject students are guided in diagnosing the situation, devising strategies aimed at managing the transition process towards desired outcomes, and reflecting on the possible unintended/unforeseen consequences of such strategies. Students are also invited to ‘embody’ the experience of change management by taking part in simulations/role playing exercises based on real events.

A formative assessment provides students with feedback to direct their self-study. Ongoing general and individual feedback will be provided throughout the subject via consultation seminars. A summative assessment provides feedback on students' comprehension and application of learning. Students also receive formal feedback on assessment tasks.

Content (topics)

  • Organizational change as controlled transformation: opportunities and limitations of a sequential, ‘strategic planning’ approach to organizational change
  • Dealing with emergent change and with revolutionary challenges
  • Reflections and applications


Assessment task 1: Reflection Portfolio (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):


Weight: 60%
  • Provide a coherent and insightful framing of transformational change with attention to organizational context and complexities
  • Demonstrated capacity for reflexivity and critical thinking in setting out plan and set of activities
  • Develop realistic and achievable strategies/course of action - Includes viability of the plan (milestones, sequencing, resources, planned actions’ likely scenarios)

Assessment task 2: Transition Philosophy (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

2 and 3

Weight: 40%
  • Analysis of a strategic issue(s) sensitive to influencing factors, supporting data/evidence and different perspectives (diversity, ethics, sustainability, multiple stakeholders)
  • Information is communicated effectively for specific audience.

Minimum requirements

Students must achieve at least 50% of the subject’s total marks.


Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. 2012, A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations, Journal of Management Studies, viewed 1 November 2018,

Beech, N., Kajzer-Mitchell, I., Oswick, C. & Saren, M. 2011, 'Barriers to change and identity work in the swampy lowland', Journal of Change Management, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 289–304.

Heracleous, L., & Bartunek, J. (2020). Organization change failure, deep structures and temporality: Appreciating Wonderland. Human Relations

Kotter, J.P. 1995, 'Leading Change: Why transformation efforts fail', Harvard Business Review, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 59–67.

Rigby, D, Henderson. & D'Avino, M. 2018, ‘How Agile teams can help turnarounds succeed’, Harvard Business Review, 10 August, viewed 24 October 2018, <>.

Schwartz, T. 2018, ‘Leaders focus too much on changing policies, and not enough on changing minds’, Harvard Business Review, 25 June, viewed 24 October 2018, <>.

Smith, W.K., Lewis, M.W. & Tushman, M.L. 2016, Both/And leadership, Harvard Business Review, viewed 24 October 2018, <>.

Stouten J, Rousseau DM and De Cremer D. (2018). Successful Organizational Change: Integrating the Management Practice and Scholarly Literatures. Academy of Management Annals, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 752-788.

Tushman, M., Smith, W. & Binns, A. 2011, 'The Ambidextrous CEO', Harvard Business Review, vol. 89, no. 6, pp. 74–80.

Weick, K.E. 1998, ‘The attitude of wisdom: Ambivalence as the optimal compromise’, in S. Srivastra [ed.], Organizational wisdom and executive courage, New Lexington Press, San Francisco, pp. 40–64.