literature reviews in depth, resistance to change. Specifically, the reasons
behind employee’s resistance to decisions made by a higher authority. Employees
themselves can quickly become overwhelmed by change. Especially in large
organisations where it is perceived there is little or no control on the
decisions inflicted upon them. It is also important to understand manager’s interpretation
of employee’s resistance can affect the implementation of decisions made.
Resistance can cost an organisation profoundly, regarding expense and time.
Such reactions to decisions can also be challenging to anticipate and thus,
prevent. Change additionally requires commitment, which both organisations and
employees can struggle with. In addition to this, the rate of change has escalated
in virtually all organisations causing managers to make critical, ever more
impacting, decisions. Organisational resistance has been central to research
for many years. Within such time, limitations have come to light. Scholars such
as Dent and Goldberg (1999) argue for the retirement of the concept ‘resistance
to change’ seemingly claiming that the interests of managers cannot overpower
the interest of a worker. In this study of resistance and managerial decisions,
this will be explored.
itself, is commonly considered to be the standard, if not natural response to
change (Boonstra, 2004, pp-321). Bhutan (1995) found it is essential to
identify the symptoms of change and keep these distinct to the causes behind
them. Recognising the danger of determining a symptom to change, when looking
for the cause. There are many reasons behind resistance to managerial
decisions. Dawson (2003) found factors which create resistance include changing
of job nature, transfer of jobs, psychological pressure, job insecurity,
disturbance in societal arrangement and lowering of status in some way. Coch
and French (1948) study into clothing manufacturers found that lower employee
participation causes mistrust between managers and increases the employee’s
resistance to change. Prosci (2003) research also identified employees often
oppose change due to new processes and technologies amounting to additional job
responsibilities. Furthermore, it is essential to add the different assessment
in identifying the necessities and benefits of the decision, and the combined
factor that some individuals have a low tolerance for change innately. Lorenzo
(2000) additionally acknowledged that past failures leave negative connotation
for future change. Research highlighted, identifies causes of employee control,
combined with low employee participation can produce high levels of resistance.
It also defines many causes to be attributed to a culture of the business and
research into personal factors of employees can also assist in understanding
the resistance to change. These include age, gender and personality traits. It
can also include educational levels (Gaylor, 2001). Additionally, Kotter and
Schlesinger (1979) identified four reasons behind why commonly, people resist
change. These include; focus on own interests, this may be the fear of losing
something of value, such could consist of skills and status. Additionally, is
the misunderstanding of change costing more than can be gained, which may
include a lack of trust in the manager implementing change. As well as
manipulation and co-option as ways change is usually destroyed. Regarding
power-resistance relations, this research recognises the extent to which
leaders are responsible for change through questioning power authenticity in
real-life organisations. It additionally, identifies problems addressed by
Dawson (2003) and other scholars in disturbance of societal arrangement,
frustration and lowering status of workers.
C (1997) research into the acceptance of the power relations approach delves
deeper into the culture of change. The suggestion that resistance itself is
institutionalised suggests its embodiment in organisational structure; with all
decisions made. Institutionalised beliefs are interpreted as objective reality,
stabilizing the organisation. In addition to this, power holders themselves use
the control to resist change when perceived as threatening. Furthermore, Agocs continues to identify a
typology to the process of institutionalised change which can be adopted in a
study in hospital workers (Kellogg, 2009). The first two stages interpret the
denial of legitimacy in terms of the case for change, and the refusal to
recognise individual responsibility in addressing the change issue (pp-920).
This can be identified in Bayshore and Advent case study, where staff recognised
the problems of the quality of work life for surgical residents and the
potential to improve quality of patient safety through this. Yet attribution of
blame was directed at the interns themselves when the change began to be
implemented. There was resistance in fully understanding the new system, and
whether it could be workable or not. This lead to blame, of the problems
resulting from the change, being attributed to the wrong members of staff. When
issues did arise, no senior management was punished, highlighting such refusal
to address the change. Additionally, stages three and four of Agocs theory,
acknowledge the refusal to implement a change that has been adopted and the
intentional dismantling of the change initiative once implementation had
begun. The split motives of managers, in
this case, surgeons, whom embraced change and resisted can be recognised here.
Their power as surgical directors and surgical staff, as well as chiefs, meant
their personal stance on the change reflected in their management of seniors
and interns. This highlights the conflict between informal and formal rules in
an organisation; it is not enough for dictation from a top-down influence, as
disconnect can occur between practice and the rules. The higher authorities
influence of power is formulated with expertise and profound knowledge of the
organisation. This, as well as their personal and collective influence consequently
manipulated their beliefs and performance in the workplace. This is something
which stopped all change attempts in Bayshore but also benefited the change in
Advent. The difference was the ability to create teams favorable for reform
through an isolated area where communication could take place, creating
conditions for possibilities. This can be supported by the work of Kotter and
Schlesinger (1979) who found education and communication, involvement,
facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement to be key attributes in
dealing with resistance. Indeed, Bayshore hospital itself held a strong culture
of ‘iron men’. The need to identify as taking on such role enhanced the problem
of being an overworked intern. In Advent, this was not the case. There was
perhaps more sway to helping interns, which aided success. Thus, it can be
identified how resistors and change agents are not clear-cut. From each
perspective, it can be seen the opposing colleagues are, in themselves,
cannot occur without employee involvement; as acceptance and commitment are
essential factors for success. A significant amount of research identifies that
changes which hold low employee involvement, with less consideration of their
interests, eliminate their commitment and motivation. Moreover, quality of
leadership has been widely acknowledged to influence employees work-involvement
and commitment (Parry, 1999). Consequently, managers are a significant factor
in driving employee’s willingness to change. Ford and Fords (2009), decoding
resistance to change, recognise the need for active managers to identify with
and learn from their critics, to hold key insights into diverse approaches to
change. It defines that blaming resistors can lead to destructive managerial
behaviors. Such managerial behaviors can
include becoming defensive and uncommunicative. In pushing change without
understanding resistance, they sacrifice valuable relationships and waste
opportunities that could improve the implantation of change. They cannot see
the flaws and setbacks in their plan, and this itself sabotages its success.
Such research highlights the argument that the reason for resistance lies in
the manager’s ability. Through understanding resistance as a resource, managers
themselves need to adjust their mindset. Reasoning highlights the apparent need
for bureaucracy and transparency in implementing change. As resistance as a
resource can enhance prospects for success. Furthermore, contrasting attitudes
towards resistance are evident in perceptions of the managers themselves.
Highlighting the importance of defining resistance, and the apparent need for
managers to overcome this difficulty through adaption.
this view may highlight a need for organisations to foster ambivalent attitudes
toward change. Pidert (2000) research in identifying employee responses as
‘multidimensional attitudes’ further aids this. Pidert critiques past research
on resistance in failing to identify good intentions of resistors. Pidert’s
multidimensional attitudes identify cognitive, emotional and intentional
attributes that would be best considered in the process of change. Such new
approach identified, aids all employees in the involvement of the process, and
not just power agents such as managers.
Spreitzer and Quinn (1996) study on Ford managers further emphasised the
ability for people in higher power to maintain appearances; through not
supporting change when necessary; showing the ability for individuals to choose
between new visions and their self-interest. Findings showed middle managers
themselves blamed executives above them for resisting change. Such research is
consistent with the work of Agocs (1997). Such research highlighted how middle
managers themselves could fail to support the implementation of change, which
can come across in their ability to manage.
Labianca et al (2000) stressed the role of managers as role models. Findings
showed the ability for employees to watch supervisors intently, waiting to see
whether management’s commitment to change is skeptical. Such research
identifies managers as critical change agents, especially in top-down
alteration. It additionally highlights the difficulty for managers to make
sense of reactions; being a vital role and challenging role. Managers must
communicate their understandings in ways that provide subordinates with
certainty. This plays with cognitive and behavioral responses of managers when
given the challenge of adopting a change in which they may not have a say over,
onto employees whom equally removed from the decision-making process.
decision making, the prominence of communication and creating conditions to aid
this are imperative. Dent and Goldberg (1999) work recognise that humans and
how we change, has not affected any understanding concerning resistance, in
academic work. Through accepting employee’s reasons for resisting, causes to
overcome can be identified. Further supported in Kotter (1995) research which
studied 100 companies over a ten-year period. Findings showed employees
understood the reasons for change and wanted to make it happen. But obstacles
were identified, in place, that prevented accomplishment. It further identified
personal obstacles are rare. Consequently, the main reasons for employee
resistance are not personal but organisational issues. Highlighting
accountability to the organisation itself, and authority figures.
this also highlights resistance to change identified in most managerial and
leadership textbooks. Questioning durability and authenticity of such work.
First, reasons for resistance are made aware. Highlighting uncertainty, threat,
consequences of decisions, loss, and tolerance. Recommendations for change also
follow a similar pattern of education, negotiation, facilitation, and coercion
of some form. The belief that manipulation (Kreitner, 1992), such as withholding
information, to implement change on employees with the least amount of
opposition are investigated. Such recommendations are written with the belief
that change is the right thing, and resistors are disruptive to this
process. Additionally, change is
recognised as a psychological concept. In contrast to the work of Ford and Ford
(2009). Moreover, Lewins (1947) work
recognised barriers to change through a force-field analysis; he identified
that weakening the obstacles to change was easier itself then strengthening the
drivers. Such view is recognising homeostatic control. He highlighted the
importance of group dynamics itself, and how these play a role in social
management. It could be considered here, that the best way to achieve dynamic
change is for power influence such as executives to immerse themselves in
institutional change. Lewin’s work highlighted a more systematic view than a
psychological one as dominant. Thus, the importance of perception, as is
adopted with a different meaning, and how managers themselves deal with
implementing change in their workforce has a direct effect on the reactions of
leads us to the work of Ezzamel et al (2001). An examination of frustrated
management efforts in re-engineering working practices, in response to
corporate-driven initiatives. Manager’s role in a company is to ensure
sufficient productive attempt in accumulating capital for goods and service,
accrued by such labor is defined. Conflicts between owners and workers; as well
as design and organisation of work, is prevalent and is usually dealt with by
being suppressed or institutionalised. It also picks up on the idea in the
labor process analysis that there is a disregard to worker’s resistance; in
forms of control, playing a role in the formation and development of management
control strategies. Nor, does it incorporate an appreciation as to how the
direction of the approach perused by management may address resistance and in
ways strengthen strategy. Such study, also identified the knowledgeability and
capability of human beings themselves, and such role in resistance; which
despite evidence (Kotter, 1995) still plays a mediating role. The case study at
the Northern plant found workers to become skeptical of ‘lean’ working
practices as they perceived it to be an intensification of management control.
Rather than a relaxation of direct supervision, deploying more offensive
strategies to resistance; they viewed such practices as undermining authority
and credibility of managers. Such study highlighted the power of
identity-investments in driving workers understanding and response to lean production
initiatives. It is also pertinent how identity concerns hinder, as well as,
facilitate management control strategies (Willmott, 1997).
influences, such as advancements in technologies, global markets, and capital,
intensify pressures to cut costs while enhancing flexibility continually. Thus,
has a significant impact on managerial decision making. Luscher and Lewis
(2008) case study on a lego company used the mantra; ‘the problem is not the
problem, the way you think about the problem is the problem’ developed a
working through paradox model for managers. Applying this model helped enable
new insight into managerial challenges. Through identifying managerial issues
in paradoxes of performing, belonging and organising and through developing
each situation, into an approach toward a more workable certainty. Through
changing the relationships, the organisation itself and the roles within this.
Such study, dealing with immediate problems managers were facing, did not seek
to delve deeper into future efforts. Furthermore, this deals with paradoxical
issues which do not define all managerial decisions. It is also easy for
managers when faced with a problematic response to change, refer to the problem
solving linear mode. Nevertheless, the ability to be aware of such paradoxes
can become a key managerial tool going forward in understanding inconsistencies
and contradictions in such a dynamic setting; building a more creative theory.
Such research overall was found to aid dealing with manager’s anxieties when
dealing with change, but this did not make them disappear. Therefore, it is an
understanding to develop productivity in change.
finish with the need for bureaucracy; where change is possible. Employees
themselves resist managerial decisions due to psychological and systematic
influences. It is apparent that the role of the middle manager in this paradox
is to understand the reasons behind resistance and recognise the need to adapt
to such reasons or overcome them. The purpose of both influences has been
explored in this assignment. And the most recent research has grown towards
group influence and the role of the institution in adapting to change rather
than that of individual employees. I leave this assignment with a critical view
that the role of management and power is impertinent in understanding
resistance going forward.
defenders and reformers to change; perceptions of fairness are different. Thus,
bureaucracy is the grounds in which is needed, to agree and disagree amounting to
a mutual understanding, touched upon in the work of Luscher and Lewis (2008).
Overall, time and effort are required at all level of authority in an organisation,
to understand reasons for resistance and solutions will be different, in each
Agocs, C. (1997) Institutionalized Resistance to Organizational
Change: Denial, Inaction and Repression’, Journal
of Business Ethics, 16, 9, 917-31
Boonstra, J. J. (2004). Resistance to Change, Dynamics of Organizational Change and Learning, Wiley Handbooks in
Work & Organizational Psychology. Wiley. pp321.
Coch, L., &
French, J.R.P., Jr. (1948). Overcoming resistance to change. Human Relations,
Dawson, P. (2003).
Dimensions of change, understanding organizational change: The contemporary
experience of people at work. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage
Dent, E.B. and Goldberg, S.G. (1999) ‘Challenging “Resistance to
Change”‘, Journal of Applied Behavioural
Science, 35, 1, 25-41
Ezzamel, M., Willmott, H and Worthington, F., (2001) ‘Power,
Control and Resistance in the factory that time forgot’, journal of management
studies 38(8): 1053–80.
Ford, J.D. and Ford, L. W. (2009) ‘Decoding resistance to change’,
Harvard Business Review, 87: 99-103. Available
Accessed on: 29th December 2017.
Gaylor, T. (2001). Factors affecting resistance to
change: A case study of two North Texas Police department. Master’s thesis.
University of North Texas. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6643/b046d8b3894fa1e8fa3ea3f1252cb14b170a.pdf
Accessed on: 12th January 2018.
Kellogg, K.C. (2009). Operating room: Relational spaces and
microinstitutional change in surgery. American Journal of Sociology, 11,
Kotter, J., & Schlesinger, L, (1979). Choosing strategies for
change. Harvard Business Review, 57(2):106-114.
Kotter, J. P.
(1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business
Review, 73(2), 59-67.
(1992). Management (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Labianca, G., Gray,
B., & Brass, D. J. 2000. A grounded model of organizational schema change
during empowerment. Organization Science, 11: 235–257.
Lewin, K. (1947).
Frontiers in group dynamics: I. Concept, method and reality in social sciences;
social equilibria and social change. Human Relations, 1, 5-41.
(2000) “Barreras en los procesos de cambio en las organizaciones: estudio de un
caso”, Paper presented at the X Congreso Nacional de ACEDE, Oviedo (Spain).
Taken from: Manuela Pardo del Val, Clara Martínez Fuentes, (2003)
“Resistance to change: a literature review and empirical study”,
Management Decision, Vol. 41 Issue: 2, pp.148-155
Luscher, L.S. and Lewis, M.W. (2008) ‘Organizational change and
managerial sensemaking: working through the paradox’, Academy of Management Journal, 51: 221-240.
Parry, K. W.
(1999). Enhancing adaptability: Leadership strategies to accommodate change in
local government settings. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 12(2),
Centers, (2003). The five biggest
mistakes top-management can make during a major change, Best Practices in
Change Management. Quoted in Kearns, B, 2004, Technology and Change Management, Dublin, Ireland. Available at: http://www.comp.dit.ie/rfitzpatrick/MSc_Publications/2004_Brenda_Kearns.pdf
Accessed on: 5th January 2018.
Piderit, S. K. (2000) ‘Rethinking resistance and recognizing
ambivalence: A multidimensional view of attitudes towards an organizational
change’, Academy of Management Review,
Spreitzer, G. M.,
& Quinn, R. E. (1996). Empowering middle managers to be transformational
leaders. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32(3), 237-261.
Willmott, H. C, (1997). ‘Rethinking management and managerial
work: capitalism, control and subjectivity’. Human Relations, 50, 11, 1329-59.