High-profile change management blunders cost the UK economy more than £25bn a year.
A new report, Challenge of Change 2002 finds that while UK businesses undertake at least three major change projects a year - costing companies £52bn in management charges alone - around half are a waste of time and money.
The survey of more than 100 directors reveals that UK company boards devote 35 per cent of their time to managing change but only half of this is well spent.
Many mergers, restructures, acquisitions and downsizing operations are ill-conceived and poorly managed, finds the Change Management Online study.
Respondents cite BP Amoco most frequently as an organisation that has handled major change well.
The company is praised for the way it dealt with four different change scenarios - the merger between BP and Amoco, structural reorganisation, the management of environmental issues and outsourcing the HR function.
General Electric is another company seen as having successfully reinvented itself, acquiring new assets and effectively restructuring.
Respondents found it much easier to name companies that have failed to manage change, however, with Railtrack coming top of the list of offenders.
The national rail operator was criticised for the way the move from public to private sector was managed and it was deemed to be trying to do too much too quickly, with poor performance targets in place and not enough buy-in from all involved.
British Airways is also perceived to have poorly managed some aspects of change.
"Shining through this study is the realisation that real organisational transformation is a people issue," said Ron Brender, chairman of Change Management Online's parent company Executives Online.