This paper reports the findings of a survey of 92 managers, from 14 public and 14 private-sector organizations. The aim was to explore the experience of change, extending the findings of a previous study (Buchanan, Claydon and Doyle, 1999). The survey addressed six themes: communication, evaluation, learning, attitudes and relationships, implementation and change and continuity. Overall, the results present a bleak picture of the process and outcomes of contemporary change. Most managers claim that change responsibility affords valuable personal learning. However, recent change has also been accompanied by stress, work intensification, command and control and management–employee distrust. A comparison of public and private–sector responses suggests that the experience of change in the public sector has been more pressured than in the private sector. Comparison of responses by management level indicates that senior managers are more likely to hold positive views of the change process and its outcomes. Explanations for these differences in experience and perception are considered, along with the implications. It is concluded that an adequate theory of organizational change must address the contradictions and tensions in the lived experience of those implicated, and that effective practice should consider the linkage of change implementation with organizational learning mechanisms which, on this evidence, are absent.