Cultural Resistance to Change

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Cultural Resistance to Change
All large & complex businesses like BA have to address the need to change in the face of a rapidly changing and often hostile external environment. It is inevitable that a CEO will face some internal resistance to whatever change is proposed, regardless of the prevailing culture. The issue is the relatively importance of culture as compared with other causes of resistance. Organisation culture does play a key role in whether change can be implemented and managed successfully. A business where employees are used to ongoing change and where internal communication is effective can handle significant change well, even in a hostile market environment. Good example: the restructuring of professional services firms such as KPMG & PwC during the recession. Similarly, employees in a business with a prevailing culture of resistance and confrontation to change will typically respond predictably during a period of major upheaval. The way in which the employer/employee relationship is managed is a key determinant of whether culture influences the degree of resistance. Role of trade unions: in general, industrial relations in the UK are much less confrontational than in previous decades, with substantially less time lost to industrial action. But not every industry is the same. Some remain heavily unionised - like the airline industry - which increases the risk of stakeholde resistance to change. Compare with other industries where low levels of unionisation? BA has a long history of industrial disputes and a corporate culture which might be seen to encourage confrontation & resistance. The leadership style of the existing CEO (Walsh) may be part of the perceived problem - his autocratic, uncompromising style has done little to encourage employee stakeholders to accept and embrace the change required. Leaders like Howard Schultz at Starbucks or Adam Crozier (Royal Mail, and now ITV) have had more success in driving change programmes...
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