Resistance To Change Management

From individual level to highest organizational level change is seen everywhere for their reformation and development. To cope up with globalization and for survival of the organisation a lot of companies are enforced to make their changes. But it is not always an easy task and some people are not willing to accept the change agenda because of inertia and the fare of losing their job (Edmonds, 2011). A different number of factors affect the change process and for the resistance many change program have failed (Waddell and Sohal, 1998). So for the achievement of successful change, resistance should be considered and managed accordingly (Pardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes, 2003). The main objective of this paper is to analyse the organisational change management and specially different ways to address and minimize the resistance to manage successful change by reviewing different related literature. In first part define

In this essay there are five sections, i.e. introduction, literature review, resistance to change, how to manage successful change and finally conclusion.

What is Change?

Before going to start review of different change models, it is important to describe the definitions and concept about organisational change to make a clear idea about it.Organisational change is the transformation of structure, quality and position by introducing latest ideas and dealings for the better performance and global adjustment of the organisation (Sckalk et. al., 1998, cited by Pardo-del-val et al., 2012). Organisational change basically in two types, where first one is evolutionary or incremental or first order change and anotherone is strategic or transformational or revolutionary or second order change (Pardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes, 2003). The first category of change is a small scale change which improve the quality within the same framework on the other hand, second category of change is a radical one, organizational structure and basic framework are completely change here (Blumenthal and Haspeslag, 1994). The main objectiveof radical change is to improve the potentials of the organisation for competing the market (Ruiz and Lorenzo, 1999).

However organisational change also classified as planned change and emergent change(Bamford and Forrester, 2003).The planned approach organisational change highlights the different status which an organisation will have to shift from an unacceptable position to recognized desired position (Eldrod II and Tippett, 2002). The emergentchange suggests that it is an unpredictable and undesirable continuous method of adjustment to changing environments (Burnes, 2004). But uncertainty of circumstances create emergent approach more significant (Bamford and Forrester, 2003). So, an organization should identify the requirements of change and how to deal with that changes (Burnes, 2004). Although for the existence and effective competition successful management of change is highly required (Luecke, 2003).

Why Change

Basically change is requiredfor the global economic crisis, technological advancement, market competition and development of the organization (Brisson-Bank, 2010). Edmonds (2011) argued that some factors influence the organization for changing their strategy and forms. The factors are governmental change, joining with another one, global economic challenges, different formation, Strategy for leaving business, technological advancement and business strategy. Dawson, (1994) also described that, a single instrument or entire design of manufacturing process may be restored in the technological change process. When the structure or formation of an organization change it involves the employee structure, reward system and organisational communication system. Governmental or legislative change includes different policies, environmental control, employment opportunity etc. These factors are generally inter-reliant. For instance technological change may need skilled employee, competition among local engineering workforce etc. So, change is intended to different points but it cannot satisfy all. In reality it cannot be managed completely. He also added that if people are not clearly informed about change before implementation they make a resistance against the change process. Paton and McCalman, (2000) argues that naturally a favorable environment is created and accepted by an organization. When change is required, whatever it may be, the organization will face the resistance by its employee, stakeholder, customer, dealer, and distributor, because they feel comfortable with the present environment and frightened with uncertainty regarding change. He also added that the resistance can be reduced but this uncertainty cannot be eradicated completely.

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Resistance to change:

Now it is important to give an idea about the barrier which hinders the change process at its different stages is ‘resistance’. So, resistance is defined asan opposing trend which affects the change agenda by delaying start, blocking implementation and raising theprice(Ansof, 1990, cited byPardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes, 2003).In addition resistance always wants to maintain status quo. It has a tendency to keep away from change as inertia (Rumelt, 1995). Resistance is indicated as the main cause of problem of implementation and failure of change agenda (Erwin and Garman, 2010).

Dawson (2003) recognizes some factors which create resistance i.e.changing of job nature, transfer of job or economic insecurity, psychological pressure, lowering status and disturbance in societal arrangement.

Graetz et al. (2002) has identified four main perceptions of resistance to change which are (cited by Hughes, 2006);

the psychological model

the system model

the institutional approach, and

theorganisational cultures approach.

The psychological model indicates the resistance which is created by individual’s behavior. The system model recommends that people do not resist change but they resist what they are losing.Resistance is establishedinorganisational formation, administrative procedure, and allocation of assets at the institutional approach. As the consequence of organisational culture resistance can be described in this approach(Hughes, 2006).

Hambrick and Cannella (1989) have classified the resistance as three types which are as blind resistance, political resistance and ideological resistance. The persons of ‘blind resistance’ type are considered to befrightened in any kind of changes. The considerations of ‘political resistance’ type persons are to lose something valuable after the implementation of change. More over the persons of ‘ideological resistance’ type consider thattheir establishedvalues may be tarnished if change is implemented (Hughes, 2006). Greetz et al. (2002) classified the resistance as active and passive where active resistance is occur at the time of aggressive change and passive resistance is occur at the period of indirect change. Continuum

On the other hand Pardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes,( 2003) added that resistace is not always a negative notion when change is not very favorable.InadditionMabin et al., (2001) also argued that for the improvement of the quality of decision for transformation resistance can be make a positive role.

Some factors createthe resistance at different stages of change process. Resistance creates difficulties at the stage of strategy formulation and at the stage of implementation. More over the sources of resistance are divided in five groups where first three groups act as the sources of resistance at the formulation stage and last two groups act as the sources of resistance at the implementation stage (Rumelt, 1995; cited by Pardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes, 2003).

Wrong perception: At the initial stage it is important toassess the needs for change, so incorrectassessment is the first barrier of change. It is also known as the barrier of interpretation.It contains another factors – short-term mind set and do not have the clear idea about future strategy, Information rejection tendency, continuationof thoughts or trend to continue thoughts at the changingsituation, implied assumptions, barrier of communication, and organisational silence.

Lower motivation: When change is done for a product manufacturing but it can create some problems for another. Different interest groups are involved in the change process. So sacrifice and motivation is needed.

Shortage of innovative response: Reactive mentality and lack of commitment of highest authority are the main factors of this stage.

Cultural and political gap: Politics of different sections, specific discrepancy among different groups, different values and environment for implementation are the main factors of this group.

Another sources: Different sources are acted in the last group i.e. ineffective leadership, unplanned routines, problem of group action, shortage of required capabilities and distrust.

How to manage resistance to successful change:

Bamford and Forrester (2003) argues that management literature did not make any consensus about a suitable approach forsuccessfully managing organisational change. Some disagreements are always prevailing in this field. So change managers are confused to take decision for choosing the appropriate approach. They did not find any effective and reliable approach for applying in change management. If uncertainty is created by resistance not by change then resistance to change will be the major concern to manage not change itself (Carnall, 2003). Dowson (2003) has suggested that by participation, communication, support, negotiation, influence and force complexities of resistance can beovercome. He also argued that organizational development model supports the participatory approaches. In the reality it is better to employee involvement in the change process rather imposed by the management (Hughes, 2006). Resistance is created in major changes but negative effects of resistance can be reduced by open discussion andopenly discussed resistance is easily manageable than the resistance of unexpressed (Conner, 1998). It is necessary to be practical for managing resistance the nature and context of the resistance should be analyzed by the change managers (Hughes, 2006).

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The participatory approach is widely analyzed for its effectiveness and mostly discussed in business area as an important issue to smooth the progress of organisational change (Pardo-del-val et al., 2012). Generally, at present participatory management is playing an important part for reducing the resistance (Waddell and Sohal, 1998). Participatory approach is well received for its better creativeness and decision make (Lawler, 1993). Now it is important to know about the participative management and its impact on reducing resistance to organisational change.

Participative management is a style where employees are involved in every step of the change process from decision making to implementation (Cole et al., 1993; cited byPardo-del-val et al., 2012). It is known as a traditionalconception in management literatureabout eighty years (Lawler, 1993). Managers share the decisions with the employees through information technology, training, management culture and leadership (Pardo-del-Val and Lloyd, 2003).The participative approach is generally recognized as the best method for managing resistance to organisational change which acts on two steps, firstly by decreasing resistance and then by increasing efficiency (Pardo-del-val et al., 2012).The success of changeprogramme depends on the proper identification of major sources of resistance. The change process start from its first step taking decision staff involvement is required from this stage. There is a connection between participation and commitment, and resistance is reduced by that commitment. So the literatures opine that it is the best way to defeat resistance by the participationof all people (Pardo-del-val et al., 2012).When people feel that they are involved in the change process as well as decision making process a commitment is grown inside them by participating in the programme. Then the resistance created by the employees can be reduced by sharing the responsibilities within managers and staffs (Zeffane, 1996). Time consumption is the only shortcomingof this approach otherwisefor growing commitment and feeling it is very convenient process to manage resistance for a successful change (Lenz and Lyles, 1986).

Communication is another process to implement change programme by reducing resistance (Hughes, 2006). It is impossible to make changes of an organization without effective communication with staffs (Barrett, 2002). Where communication is essential it depends on the nature, urgency, promptness and reactions of change (Quirke. 1995). The change management is generally a top down procedure, so management should provide information to the employee for clarify the necessity of transformation (Hayes, 2002). Balogun and Hope Hailey (2004) argued some reasons for communication in organizational change;

Employees do not like to receive information from rumor; they always desire to know the information of change from their higher authority.

Employees can realize and adjust if communicate with them earlier.

Employees like to hear authentic information.

Employees want to know about changes and do not like hidden policy.

Finally Hughes, (2006) argued that the strategic communication is necessary for a strategic change. So, by proper communication resistance can be reduced to manage successful change.

Moreover, middle managers can play an important role for both reduce the resistance and implement the change.Bamford and Forrester (2003) argue that senior managers are mainly involved with policy formulation and control but middle managers are directly involved with customer, workers and suppliers. So, operating managers have the multi-dimensional experience. They can predict the consequences of transformation. For these reasons necessary measures and adaptation policies can be taken. Middle managers can displayand filter the proposal of change initiatives and suggest to authority. Then senior managers can take decision by analyzing the proposals of middle managers. The planned change can be executedby managers with their understanding and experiences but emergent changes related to development cannot be executed solely, it needs multifunctional approaches (Wilson, 1992).

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Additionally Edmonds (2011) argued that team work and training have the role to implement change by decreasing resistance. He asserts that team sets task, scheduling and aim to achieve goal and develops interpersonal relations which is important for change initiatives. Edmonds also emphasized that some special skills are essentialfor manage different types of changes. Training is the basic way to attainthose skills. Finally Taylor (1999) added that training can support to understand the implementation procedure of change and clear the ambiguity.

Recommendations for Further Research:

Drawing the attention on change agenda, there may be basic requirement of an appropriate outline for the management of organisational change. Due to shortage of experimental study on change management in organisations, it is recommended that more research into the character of change management will be directed. The primary stage may be to complete investigative studies to enhance the understanding themanagement oforganisational change.The significant success factors can be identified by these studies for the change management. Moreover, it is very much essential to determine success rate for creating a suitable structure of change management. Therefore, determinationtechniques should be intended (Todnem By, 2005).


Change is a continuous process for organisational development and adjusting with modern world. So, managing change is an important issue for an organization and successfully management of it is highly required (Todnem By, 2005). In the process of management of change resistance is a factor which is to be considered. So success of change depends on the success of managing resistance. Where, resistance wants to keep the organization in its current position by delaying the process. There are different factors acting as resistance which are organizational values, interests of the employees, communication gap, stillness of organization, and lack of capabilities of management and employees. So, management should consider these factors to reduce resistance for successful change (Pardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes, 2003).

To reduce the resistance to change there is no universal way but some probable approaches are suggested in different management literature. Executives should give proper concentration for their needs. Moreover Pardo-del-val et al., (2012) suggested that participative management can be the one of the best way to reduce resistance. He also added that participative approach canproperlyaddressthe mentioned sources of resistance as a result output of the change process can be improved.He showed a positive relation between employee participation and resistance. Any complicacy related to change process can be resolved by the participation of staffs (Waddell and Sohal, 1998). Furthermore the barriers of change programme can be removed by open discussion (Beer and Eisenstat, 1996).

Finally Pardo-del-val& Martinez Fuentes, 2003 suggested that change managers can take an important role to implement successful organizational change. Managers have to know the effect of change on organisational culture and take probable measures to develop before start. This measure will be helpful to develop the relation between staffs and managers. He also emphasized that training can lessen the resistance by reducingthe barriers of communication and develop the essential skills for the change.

Reference:Claire V. Brisson-Banks, (2010),”Managing change and transitions: a comparison of different models and

their commonalities”, Library Management, Vol. 31 Iss: 4 pp. 241 – 252

John Edmonds, (2011),”Managing successful change”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 Iss: 6 pp.

349 – 353

Paton, R.A. and McCalman, J. (2000), Change Management: A guide to effective implementation, Sage, London.

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