Resistance to Change
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Resistance to change is always an obstacle for organisation when they try to implementing change. But what is resistance to change? Why is it so important and how bad can it affect organisation when it come to change? In this paper, we will analyse resistance to change and how employer play a role in causing resistance in their organisation unknowingly. Also we will look at some implication for manager in order to handle resistance and use it to he/she advantage.
In the nowadays dynamic business world, change is import and crucial for any organization to survive and thriving. The quote on the front page is basically summarizing the importance of change. However it is not simple to implement change within an organization. Resistance to change is one of the biggest obstacles of implementing change within an organization. There are a few reasons why people resist changing and they are fear of the unknown and cultural differences. In order to understand about resistance to change, in this paper we will analyze the definition of resistance to change, why there is a need for change and how does resistance to change occurs. Also we will take a look at some implications that manager can use to overcome resistance to change. Key Issues
In order to analyze resistance to change and how it affect each organization we must have a clear understand what is resistance to change is all about and why is resistance to change happen in this dynamic business world. From there we will use theories to build up a conclusion as whether resistance to change is a good thing or bad thing to an organization and implications for the managers as well. What is resistance to change?
Resistance to change is not just a matter only in business world but happen everywhere. It can be within a family, a community, a country, in large scale or small scale. According to Schein in 1988, resistance to change is viewed at the enemy of change and must be succeed fully overcome in order for a change to be implemented1. In the process of strategic change, resistance to change causes unanticipated delays, extra cost and unstableness in the process (Ansoff, 1988)2. Some scholars describe resistance to change as the negative expression of employees toward management in order to stop, delay or alter change (Block, 1989. Bemmels and Reshef, 1991)3. Therefore resistance to change is considering as negative attitudes and counterproductive behaviour (Waddell, 1998)4. And overtime resistance to change is understand as the causes of conflict and could lead to negative affect on the organization morale and health. Resistance to change: Whose is at fault?
We would like to explore the argument whether it is the change agent (the one who offer/ create the process of change) or change recipient (the one who implementing/experience change) at fault for resisting to change within an organisation (Ford J.D, Ford L.W and D’Amelio, 2008)5. Many researches have indicate that change recipient is most of the time responsible for resisting to change (Dent & Goldberg; Klein cited by Ford J.D, Ford L.W and D’Amelio, 2008) however in this paper we would like to look at a different angle where change agent would be the one at fault for causing resistance to change. It is possible that resistance to change could arise through the change agent fail strategy or implementation of change. It could be the break of trust, breach of agreement (Tomlinson, Dineen, &Lewicki cited by Ford J.D, Ford L.W and D’Amelio, 2008).
Therefore one could argue that resistance to change is not a response or action that aims directly at change but rather a failure of building a relationship between the management team and the team members of the organisation. Thus it is the management team responsible as well for the arising of resistance to change as it is an active participation of the process. A change is the process of changing the old way or usual way of doing thing and implements a new way or different path of doing thing and thus change could create fear of the unknown for the participants (Mintzberg& Waters, 1985)6. In order to make change happen, it is important for both parties, the change recipient and change agent to actively seeking information, feedback, goal and objective of change. The key word here would be “Communication”. By being honest to the recipient, letting them known of the expectation from the change and the beneficial likeliness that change would bring to personal gain and to the organisation, this would encourage the participant to adopt change process (Kim & Rousseau, 2006)7. Is cultural difference a source of resistance to change?
Researchers have proved that there is a strong correlation between change success rate and cultural values/ belief (Kotter, 19958; Schein, 19929). The concept of organisational change is very closely linked with the culture context (Schein, 1992)10. Even though there is no hard evidence showing that culture differences is the source of resistance to change but many have argued that when the change participant is not culturally fit to understand and adapt to change process, there is more chances that they would reject change or in another word, resistance to change (Kotter, 1995; Schein, 1992). Schein in 1992 suggests that during the implementation stage, there is more likeliness for culture based resistance to change if the direction of change and the implementation of it do not fit with the cultural understanding and the characteristic of the organisation.
Further study of Amis, Slack and Hining in 200211 proved that when changes is introduced, and these changes is not correspond with the belief or the culture that already existed in the organisation, some form of resistance will arise against these changes ( Amis, Slack and Hinning cited by Danisman, 2010)12. It is more likely for resistance to change to happen in organisation where culture, understanding and values are so deeply rooted. Changes would be hard to implement as it is harder to break the people habit. A case study has been done by Danisman in Turkey, a country with high power distance culture. And in this case study, both of the employees and the employers have the intention to change but the implementation of change fail.
The failure in this case study is mostly because of the mistake of the management team when they come up with the changes that in theory would be good for the organisation but did not coincide with the culture and understanding of the Turkish society and the organisation. Although resistance would be consider bad for the organization but eliminating resistance the moment it arise wouldn’t be the best choice. Resistance to change helps to draw the attention of to the implementation of change that is not well thought or even wrong. Management team can use resistance to change as their tool to identify the cause of resistance and therefore analyse the situation to figure out why such resistance exist (Bartlett and Kayser, cited by Waddell, 1998)13. Resistance to change also can be seen as another form of commitment shown by employee in change (Piderit cited by Ford J.D, Ford L.W and D’Amelio, 2008)
Employee resisting to change has known as the source of failure for the organisation change implementation process. However employee would not be the only at fault for this failure, but the employer play an important role as well. The inability to build a trusting and positive relationship, the lack of communication and understanding between the change recipient and the change agent play a crucial role in the arising of resistance to change within the organisation. The inability to understand culture and values of the organisation would also causes resistance to change. A case study in Turkey has proven that if managers do not put culture understanding of the society or the organisation, and changes do not coincide with the values, there are more chances for these changes implementation to fail. The management team need to have clear of understanding as what is the true face of resistance to change as it can be use like a tool to enhance change process and increase the likelihood of change successfulness.