Resistance to Change, Traditional vs. Modern Perspective

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Handling Resistance To Organizational Change
A framework for companies, showing the preeminent method to handle resistance to change

By Ilona van Rooij, Michelle Hieltjes and Sophie Peeman

This paper has a clear aim at creating a framework for companies, showing the preeminent method of handling resistance to change. A thorough literature study revealed two distinctive perspectives, with different strategies, advantages and disadvantages. The traditional perspective takes a more negative stance towards resistance to organizational change. There is a clear focus on reducing or even eliminating resistance. More recently, a new and more positive view emerged, stating that resistance is useful and therefore needs to be encouraged. A comparison is made between these two types and ultimately, a theoretical framework is created, combining the best of both perspectives. Although some techniques from the traditional perspective are used, there is a greater tendency towards the positive way of approaching resistance to organizational change Key Words:

Organizational change; Resistance to change; Traditional perspective; Modern perspective; Positive approach; Blockers and Champions; Theoretical Framework.

Table of Content
How can resistance to organizational change be defined?5
Organizational change5
Resistance to change6
The Negative and Positive Perspective towards Resistance6
1. The traditional view of approaching and managing resistance to change8
Freeze environment9
Facilitation and support10
Negotiation and agreement10
Manipulation and coercion10
Pessimistic approach11
Time consuming11
Short term solutions11
2. The modern view of approaching and managing resistance to change13
Encourage resistance through a culture of Openness and Flexibility14
Empower middle management to interpret and adapt the change14
Appreciate the critical attitude towards assumptions14
Use resistance as a mean to keep the topic alive15
Create a high level of commitment through resistance15
Practical danger16
Ethical challenge17
Theoretical limitation17
3. Introduction to the framework18
Explanation of the model18
Unfreeze phase19
Change phase19
Refreeze phase20
Cause and Effect Relations21
Appendix 1 Framework ‘Handling resistance to change’25

How can resistance to organizational change be defined?
Organizational change
In order to define resistance to organizational change, it is necessary to explain what is meant with the term organizational change first. In general the term stands for the adoption of a new idea or type of behavior by an organization (Liberatore, Hatchuel, Weil and Stylianou, 2000). Changes can be defined along a continuum, from small adaptations to strategic revolutions (del Val and Fuentes, 2003). In literature often the two extreme types are described, operational and transformational change, however, it should be kept in mind that real changes are not a pure type but a mixture. Organizational change has been a widely discussed topic in business research and various authors have given different names to these types of change, for instance first-order and second-order change, operational and transformational change and continuity and radical change (del Val and Fuentes, 2003; Chun-Fang, 2010). All these terms carry the same meaning and intention. To be consistent the terms operational and transformational change are chosen for this paper. Operational changes are often minor improvements occurring naturally as an organization grows and therefore, does not necessarily require organized intervention. Modeling is one of the main contributors. This type of change focuses on improving routines, issues and organizational processes in different areas of the business (Liberatore et al., 2000; del Val and Fuentes, 2003; Chun-Fang, 2010). Transformational change, on the other hand,...
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