Resistance to Change

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Resistance to change may be categorized into three groups of factors (Mabin, Forgeson & Green, 2001): organizational, group and individual. Organizational factors are caused by threats presented by unknown or unwelcome organizational structure and process change and threats induced by the environment inside or outside of the organization. Group cohesiveness and social norms under threat and participation in decision-making not properly attended would trigger resistance to change. Individual factors related to the personality impose different emotional reactions to change (Bernerth, 2004). Compared to the other factors, individual factors have been intensively researched (Cheng & Petrovic-Lazarevic, 2005a). An interesting approach to the individual factors comes from Harris (2002) who divides them into: Lip Service: Sabotage by Disregarding as an instrumental compliance in that in recognizing the legitimate authority of the hierarchy and the benefits of the continued employment, employees overtly and orally conform but covertly resist attempts to be subjugated; Prolonged Argument: Sabotage by Erosion involving the tenacious use of vociferous and protracted oral arguments upon all possible occasions to erode enthusiasm, support, or argument with the management-espoused change; Hijacking: Sabotage by Transformation where employees endeavour to transform the adopted change into something more acceptable to their function, or simply something more personally palatable; Scarcity Creation: Sabotage by Undermining including the purposeful behaviour of a more confrontational form; Direct Conflict: Sabotage by Battle reflecting extremely pronounced personal opposition to change that could result in resignation. The other approach emphasises eight distinctive phases through which people would likely to go through whenever they feel trapped in a change that they do not want but cannot control (Conner,1998; Cheng & Petrovic-Lazarevic, 2005b). These are: stability as a stage prior to any announcement to change; immobilization where shock is considered the initial reaction to a negatively perceived change; denial characterized by the inability to assimilate new information into the current frame of reference; anger followed by frustration and feelings of being hurt; bargaining indicating that people can no longer avoid confronting with the reality; depression expressed by an emotion stage in a form of resignation to failure, feeling victimized, a lack of emotional and physical energy, and disengagement from one’s work; testing with signal of acknowledgment of one’s limitation, the attempt to regain control, and the freeing oneself from the feelings of victimization and depression; and acceptance where people respond realistically, are more grounded and productive relative to the previous phases within the new context The odds of successful change management depend on numerous influential factors: methodological determinants, the complexity of change and social aspects. These aspects are dominant and comprise: top manager commitment and open communication [Ringer 1998], social culture [Hofstede 1980] and employees’ reaction to change, especially resistance [Carnall 1990; Burnes 1992; Coulson-Thomas 1992; Kotter 1996]. Cultural Catalysts and Barriers of Organizational Change… 28 Organizational members’ reactions to change vary depending on the character of transformation and the value that people place on satisfying different individual needs [Carnall 1990]. Individuals or groups can react very differently to change: from passively resisting it, silencing its advocates, refusing to engage in joint problem-solving, refusing to seek common ground, sabotaging, and aggressively trying to undermine it, to sincerely embracing it [Kotter, Schlesinger 2008; Agocs 1997, p. 45].Resistance to change is customary mentioned in management literature as an inevitable consequence of organizational change initiatives and listed among the most crucial...
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