Transformational Change Management

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Resistance: a constructive tool for change management
Dianne Waddell Department of Management, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia Amrik S. Sohal Department of Management, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Traditionally, resistance has been cast as adversarial – the enemy of change that must be defeated if change is to be successful. While it is apparent that classical management theory viewed resistance in such a manner, recent literature contains much evidence that suggests resistance may indeed be useful and is not to be simply discounted. Present day suggestions and prescriptions for managing resistance have evidently disregarded this research and left little room for utility in resistance. This paper argues that the difficulty of organisational change is often exacerbated by the mismanagement of resistance derived from a simple set of assumptions that misunderstand resistance’s essential nature. It is suggested that management may greatly benefit from techniques that carefully manage resistance to change by looking for ways of utilising it rather than overcoming it. success organisations have in securing successful change.

Introduction
Resistance to change has long been recognised as a critically important factor that can influence the success or otherwise of an organisational change effort. Research undertaken by Maurer (1996) indicated that one-half to two-thirds of all major corporate change efforts fail and resistance is the “little-recognised but critically important contributor” to that failure (p. 56). Research undertaken in the UK by Oakland and Sohal (1987) also found that resistance was one of the major impediments to the use of production management techniques by British production managers. Similarly, Eisen et al. (1992) and Terziovski et al. (1997) found resistance by management and workers to be the major impediment to the use of quality management practices in Australian manufacturing industry . Not that resistance is solely to



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