In March 2022, Dr Danielle Tucker was awarded one of the first Innovation Fellowships from The British Academy to work with global Oracle partner Inoapps to develop a new Change Agent Digital Toolkit, to support better change management.

As the project nears it conclusion, Dr Tucker talks to Professor Melissa Tyler, Co-Director of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Society about her experience.

Can you tell me about the work you are doing that is funded by your British Academy Innovation Fellowship?

I am studying the lived experience of internal change agents in organisations to understand how they bear the burden of work intensification and uncertainty during change implementation. This research will identify how change agent role activities, relationships and mindset, influence successful change management. We are using this knowledge to provide a handbook and toolkit for change management consultants who will support change agents in their client’s projects.

What was it about that scheme in particular that made you think it was the right funding source for your current work?

My fellowship is funded in the first round of the researcher-led route within the British Academy Innovation Fellowship scheme. The scheme is unique in that it supports researchers to develop new and deeper links beyond academia, enabling knowledge exchange and skill development. The grant funds a partnership with Inoapps – a UK-based global change management consultancy firm – together we are co-creating knowledge and upskilling their consultants to develop an innovative approach to change agent learning and development. Through their client base, my research can create a pathway to impacting thousands of employees across the globe.

The project is nearing its conclusion, would you be able to summarize for us what you think the main 'takeaway' findings are, and what avenues for your future research do you think they might open up?

A key finding from the research so far has been that prompting organisations to discuss the role that they want change agents to play in the process is really important for reducing tensions and managing expectations for all stakeholders in the long term. We have found that change agents often experience identity tension when the expectations of others about the role do not align with their own career or personal goals so matching the right individual to the right change agent role is essential in their development.

Future research will explore further how we can support change agents in managing the identity and role tensions that they experience during their tenure leading the change programme.