Resistance to Organizational Change

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The causes of resistance to organizational change
The role of the individual in and the contribution of the change agent to the occurrence of resistance during change processes.

The causes of resistance to organizational change
The role of the individual in and the contribution of the change agent to the occurrence of resistance during change processes.

Master Thesis Name: Studentnumber: Date: Myrna van Engelen 1941623 6th of October, 2010

Business Administration – Management Consulting Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Supervisor: Dr. G.J. Schuiling Second reader: Drs. G.P. Melker

Source figure on frontpage: http://www.prsarichmond.org/attachments/wysiwyg/1/changes_next_exit.jpg

ABSTRACT
This research focuses on resistance to change from two perspectives. The first is the relation between the defense mechanisms of the individual and the intention to resist change. The second is the relation between interaction between the change agent and change recipient and resistance to change, i.e. the contribution of the change agent to resistance. A web-based questionnaire was used to gather quantitative data from 179 employees within several organizations in the Netherlands. The questionnaire consists of three parts. The first two parts are a retest of Bovey and Hede (2001) on the relation between defense mechanisms and the behavioral intention to resist change. The third part was a new developed scale based on the theory of Ford, Ford and d’Amelio (2008) on the role of the change agent in the occurrence of resistance. First, the reliability of the new scale to measure the contribution of the change agent was tested. After that, the relation between defense mechanisms, the contribution of the change agent and resistance to change was tested statistically. The results show that the scale on the contribution of the change agent is reliable. From the factor analysis several subscales were created, with keywords that are mostly in line with the concepts mentioned by Ford et al. (2008): injustice, fairness, damaged or restored relation, misrepresentation, personal and organizational benefits and the justification of change by the manager of the change process. The correlation shows that there is a positive significant relation between maladaptive defense mechanisms and behavioral intention to resist change. Both a test of correlation and a t-test on contribution of the change agent to resistance show that the amount of resistance is influenced by the actions of the change agent. Finally the research focuses on whether there is also a relation between the use of defense mechanisms and the degree in which the individual is influenced by what the change agent does. The correlation shows only a significant difference in answers of the respondents on the influence of communication breakdowns. So, the results on the degree in which individuals are influenced by the change agent based on their choice of defense mechanisms can be observed, but is not very convincing with the scales used in this research. Because a convincing relation was expected, recommendations for further research are to reexamine the way of testing defense mechanisms and to expand the scale on the contribution of the change agent with findings from the theoretical analysis and interviews.

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PREFACE
This thesis is written to complete a Master in Business Administration at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the VU University Amsterdam. The last few months I have gained a lot of knowledge on doing my own research: from thinking of a subject to developing a survey, doing interviews, writing down my results to the final goal to present this thesis on resistance to organizational change.

Now I can present you the results of doing research on resistance to change for the last few months. However, I would not have been able to present my final thesis without the help of others. I would

really like to thank all respondents of my...
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