Organization and Resistance

Topics: Organization, Management, Change management Pages: 6 (907 words) Published: October 19, 2012
An important element of any change initiative which is resistance to change LEARNING OBJECTIVES
1. Define resistance to change.
2. Explain the life cycle of resistance to change.
3. Discuss the causes of resistance.
4. Describe the strategies to manage resistance.

Change creates anxiety, uncertainty and stress, even for those managing change Seldom are there any guarantees that the new approach will work - will deliver the goods As organisational problems emerge, managers attempt to take corrective actions which often affect patterns of work values, and in consequence meet with resistance The problems most likely to be encountered are associated with human resistance to changing patterns of work behaviour.


By Brown and Harvey (2006)

The response to change tends to move through a life cycle comprising of five phases :

Phase 1 :

See the need for change {identified in the first step of Kotter’s model} and take reform seriously. The resistance looks massive and the change program may die, or it may continue to grow. Large organisations seem to have more difficulty bringing about change.

Phase 2 :

As the movement for change begins to grow the forces for and against it become identifiable. The change is discussed, and is more thoroughly understood by a greater number of staff. Greater understanding may lessen the perceived threat of the change. Gradually the novelty and strangeness of the change tends to disappear

Phase 3 :

There is a direct conflict between the force for and against change Those in the organisation who see the change as good and needed often find it difficult to believe how far the opposition will go to put a stop to the change.

Phase 4 :

There is still a possibility that the resisters will mobilise enough support to shift the balance of power from the supporters. Wisdom is necessary in dealing with the opposition and also with the sizeable element who are not openly opposed to the change but also not convinced of its benefits.

Phase 5 :

The resisters to change are as few and as alienated as the advocates were in the first phase.

(Source: Adapted from Brown and Harvey, (2006), An Experiential Approach to Organisational Development, pp. 157).

Throughout the 5 phases, the change agent normally observes several signs of resistance to change.


Resistance to change may take many forms.

Hultman (1995) draws a distinction between active and passive resistance and identifies a range of symptoms associated with each :

Active Resistance Passive Resistance
Finding faultAgreeing verbally but not following through Appealing to fear Failing to implement change
Blaming or accusing Procrastinating or dragging one’s feet. Intimidating or threatening Feigning ignorance
Distorting facts. Withholding information, suggestions, help, or support Undermining Standing by and allowing change to fail.
Being critical
Using facts selectively
Starting rumors

* WHY DO PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE? { Causes of resistance }

It is important to uncover the causes of resistance to be able to deal with it.

Robbins (2005), classifies resistance to change as coming from :

(1) individual employees or
(2) organisations themselves.

* The specific causes of individual resistance to change :

Individual sources of resistance to change reside in basic human characteristics such as perceptions, personalities, and needs

Five common reasons why individuals may resist change are :~

* HABIT ~ rely on habits or programmed responses
* SECURITY ~ Loose jobs
* ECONOMIC FACTORS ~ changes will lower one's income
* FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN ~ Changes substitute ambiguity and uncertainty for the known * SELECTIVE INFORMATION...
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