The debates about organizational responses to economic crisis have focussed on the need for strategic and structural realignment. Work organization is rarely considered as an integral element of competitive strategy. Current shifts in the contours of previously stable mass markets and product and process innovation demand equally profound organizational change to maintain competitiveness. In this context maintaining or regaining competitive advantage is critically dependent upon striking an optimal balance between maximizing the productivity and versatility of work organization. We examine the impetus, dynamics and impact of pervasive change processes in three contrasting organizations, Pilkingtons, Rank Xerox and Ford U.K. While Pilkingtons relied entirely upon existing managerial expertise, the latter two companies were distinctive in that they drew vital conceptual elements of their change agendas from their organizational links with, respectively, a Japanese and American company. From these case studies we conclude that significant business turnarounds were achieved by these companies because strategic choice, work organization, company culture and organizational realignment were conceived of and operationalized as complementary elements of their competitive strategy.