Resistance to Change in Organizations

Organizational change is a fundamental aspect for any organization willing to utilize opportunities that come along with change. In a rapidly changing world, change has become very important and all the organizations have to accept it otherwise they might not meet the people’s changing needs and consequently they will be wiped out of their operating environment by their close competitors. Despite this, many organizations have been resistant to change and they seem not to recognize the benefits that accompany the change. A change in an organization may entail changing the people, structures, systems, cultural aspects, values and any other related concept that contribute to the existence of an organization. Various experts have come up with a number of reasons that lead to this much resistance.

Introduction of change to people may imply changing the way they are performing duties and carrying out their responsibilities to make them more efficient (Linstead, Fulop & Lilley, 2004). However, achieving this is not an easy task since the employees of a given organization may become used to traditional ways of performing their duties or they do not have the prerequisite and modern skills that are needed to be applied to the changing organizational structures. Change in an organization may also entail putting in place new systems to improve the organizational efficiency (Bovey & Hede, 2001). Inadequate and unqualified personnel to carry out the necessary implementation of the change in question sometimes deter this. This may be due to complications and sophistications of some adapted technologies that may be required in the organization.

Past studies have indicated that the management in many organizations has had difficulties in making the entire systems in the organization reduce their vulnerability to change. Another resistance to change may be viewed from a cultural perspective. Every organization has its unique cultural values that are related to the behavioral performance of the employees within an organization (Agocs, 2007). It becomes difficult for employees to adapt to new organizational values that may be brought by a senior management staff that has originated from another organization where the values are very different from that particular organization. This poses a very big challenge to the employees who have to change their existing cultural behavior to achieve the same organizational goals but using a different direction.

A quite number of forces do exist within organizations that sometimes make it difficult for change to take place. These include but not limited to power and conflict, functional-orientation differences as well as mechanistic structures. Situations do arise when some people in an organization bring change in an organization with greedy motives. This implies that the people are initiating a change that will see the minority of people in the organization benefit at the expense of others or the change is intended to change the power balance. In such a scenario, there is conflict of interest and the majority in the organization may resist the change completely. Differences in functional orientation bring about change resistance in terms of several divisions or sections in an organization functioning differently and each requiring a different organizational change. When a given change is prevailed upon to affect the organization as a whole some sections may not accommodate it while others are compatible with the change. This will lead to resistance of such change. Mechanistic structures refers to those organizational structures with tall hierarchy and the entire decision making is so centralized such that the people below have to take and do what has been dictated from above (Linstead, Fulop & Lilley, 2004). A change may originate from above and since the junior staff has to take orders from the senior management, they might end up resisting such change.


Agocs, C. (2007). Institutionalized resistance to change: Denial, inaction and repression. Journal of Business Ethics, 16 (9), 917-931.

Bovey, W.H. & Hede, A. (2001). Resistance to organizational change: The role of defense mechanisms. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 16(7), 534-548.

Gilley, A., Godek, M. & Gilley, J.W. (2009). Change, resistance and the organizational immune system. S.A.M. Advanced Management Journal, 74(4), 4-10.

Linstead, S., Fulop, L. & Lilley, S. (2004). Management and organization. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

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