The purpose of this paper is to test the validity of a set of best practice principles for managing transformational organizational change by applying them to a specific change initiative in the media. It also aims to examine whether prescriptions for effective change leadership (traditionally confined to single leaders) apply to a situation and organization where there are three distinct leader roles.

The paper takes the form of a case study of a major change initiative undertaken at a leading Canadian newspaper.

The paper shows that multiple, relatively autonomous leaders can lead a successful and unified change given specific organizational and environmental conditions. It also concludes that the generally accepted best practice of change leadership does not necessarily apply to a newspaper environment and posits that, in certain circumstances, a major change initiative can succeed despite running counter to the prevalent prescriptions in the literature.

Research limitations/implications:
The conclusions drawn may be limited to organizations in the news media or those with similar organizational structures. Practical implications: The paper suggests shortcoming of existing normative leadership theories, seeks to explain why this is the case, and makes numerous suggestions for further study.

The paper challenges orthodox assumptions and theories about leader roles and necessary qualities in leaders in successful organizational change. It extends understanding of change processes in the news media, which is under-studied. It also suggests the applicability, but also relative insufficiency, of existing change theory as pertains to the media industry.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Canada, Change management, Leadership, Leadership team, News media industry, Organizational change
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1108/09534811311307932
Journal Journal of Organizational Change Management
Dutkiewicz, J. (Jan), & Duxbury, L. (2013). Butting heads and headlines. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 26(1), 98–116. doi:10.1108/09534811311307932