This literature reviews in depth, resistance to change. In light, specifically, of the reasons behind employee’s resistance to decisions made by a higher authority. Employees themselves can quickly become overwhelmed by change. Especially in large organizations where it is perceived there is little or no control on the decisions inflicted upon them. It is also important to understand that manager’s interpretation of employee’s resistance, effects the implementation of decisions. Resistance can cost an organization profoundly, regarding expense and time. Such reactions to decisions can also be challenging to anticipate and thus forth, prevent. Change additionally requires a commitment to make happen, which both organizations and employees can struggle with. In addition to this, the rate of change has escalated in virtually all organizations causing managers to make critical, ever more impacting, decisions continuously. Organisational resistance has been central to research for many years. Within such time, limitations have come to light. Scholars such as Dent and Goldberg (1999) argue for the retirement of the concept ‘resistance to change’ seemingly claiming that the interests of managers cannot overpower the interest of a worker. In this study of resistance and managerial decisions, this will be explored.
Gravenhorst 2003 found resistance to be standard if not a natural response to organizational change. Bhutan (1995) found it is essential to identify the symptoms of change and keep these distinct to the causes behind them. Recognizing the danger of determining a symptom to change, when looking for the cause. There are many reasons behind resistance to managerial decisions. Dawson (2003) found factors which create resistance include changing of job nature, transfer of jobs, psychological pressure, job insecurity, disturbance in societal arrangement and lowering of status in some way. Coch and French (1948) study into clothing manufacturers found that lower employee participation causes mistrust between managers and increases the employee’s resistance to change. Prosci (2003) also identified employees often oppose change due to added job responsibilities. Furthermore, it is essential to add the different assessment in identifying the necessities and benefits of the decision, and the combined factor that some individuals have a low tolerance for change innately. Lorenzo (2000) additionally acknowledged that past failures leave negative connotation for future change. Research highlighted, identifies causes of employee control, combined with low employee participation can produce high levels of resistance. It also defines many causes to be attributed to a culture of the business and group influence.
Furthermore, research into personal factors of employees can also assist in understanding the resistance to change. These include age, gender and personality traits. It can also include educational levels (Gaylor, 2001). Additionally, Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) identified four reasons behind why commonly, people resist change. These include; focus on own interests, this may be the fear of losing something of value, such could consist of skills and status. Additionally, is the misunderstanding of change costing more than can be gained, which may include a lack of trust in the manager implementing change. As well as manipulation and co-option as ways change is usually destroyed. Regarding power-resistance relations, this research recognizes the extent to which leaders are responsible for change through questioning power authenticity in real-life organizations. It additionally, identifies problems addressed by Dawson (2003) and other scholars in disturbance of societal arrangement, frustration and lowering status of workers.
Agocs, C (1997) research into the acceptance of the power relations approach delves deeper into the culture of change. The suggestion that resistance itself is institutionalized suggests its embodiment in organizational structure; with all decisions made. Institutionalised beliefs are interpreted as objective reality, stabilizing the organization. In addition to this, power holders themselves use the control to resist change when perceived as threatening. Furthermore, Agocs continues to identify a typology to the process of institutionalized change which can be adopted in a study in hospital workers (Kellogg, 2009). The first two stages interpret the denial of legitimacy in terms of the case for change, and the refusal to recognize individual responsibility in addressing the change issue (pp-920). This can be identified in Bayshore and Advent case study, where staff recognized the problems of the quality of work life for surgical residents and the potential to improve quality of patient safety through this. Yet attribution of blame was directed at the interns themselves when the change began to be implemented. There was resistance in fully understanding the new system, and whether it could be workable or not. This lead to blame, of the problems resulting from the change, being attributed to the wrong members of staff. When issues did arise, no senior management was punished, highlighting such refusal to address the change. Additionally, stages three and four of Agocs theory, acknowledge the refusal to implement a change that has been adopted and the intentional dismantling of the change initiative once implementation had begun. The split in managers, in this case, surgeons, whom embraced change and resisted can be recognized here. Their power as surgical directors and surgical staff, as well as chiefs, meant their personal stance on the change reflected in their management of seniors and interns. This highlights the conflict between informal and formal rules in an organization; it is not enough for dictation from a top-down influence, as disconnect can occur between practice and the rules. The higher authorities influence of power is formulated with expertise and profound knowledge of the organization. As well as their personal and collective influence. Which consequently influenced their beliefs and performance in the workplace. This is something which stopped all change attempts in Bayshore but also benefited the change in Advent. The difference was the ability to create teams favorable for reform through an isolated area where communication could take place, creating conditions for possibilities. This can be supported by the work of Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) who found education and communication, involvement, facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement to be key attributes in dealing with resistance. Indeed, Bayshore hospital itself held a strong culture of ‘iron men’. The need to identify as taking on such role enhanced the problem of being an overworked intern. In Advent, this was not the case. There was perhaps more sway to helping interns, which aided success. Thus, it can be identified how resistors and change agents are not clear-cut. From each perspective, it can be seen the opposing colleagues are, in themselves, resisting change.
Change cannot occur without employee involvement; as acceptance and commitment are essential factors for success. A significant amount of research identifies that changes which hold low employee involvement, with less consideration of their interests, eliminate their commitment and motivation. Moreover, quality of leadership has been widely acknowledged to influence employees work-involvement and commitment (Parry, 1999). Consequently, managers are a significant factor in driving employee’s willingness to change. Ford and Fords (2009), decoding resistance to change, recognize the need for active managers to identify with and learn from their critics, to hold key insights into diverse approaches to change. It defines that blaming resistors can lead to destructive managerial behaviors. Such managerial behaviors can include becoming defensive and uncommunicative. In pushing change without understanding resistance, they sacrifice valuable relationships and waste opportunities that could improve the implantation of change. They cannot see the flaws and setbacks in their plan, and this itself sabotages its success. Such research highlights the argument that the reason for resistance lies in the manager’s ability. Through understanding resistance as a resource, managers themselves need to adjust their mindset. Reasoning highlights the apparent need for bureaucracy and transparency in implementing change. As resistance as a resource can enhance prospects for success. Furthermore, contrasting attitudes towards resistance are evident in perceptions of the managers themselves. Highlighting the importance of defining resistance, and the apparent need for managers to overcome this difficulty through adaption.
Questionably, this view may highlight a need for organizations to foster ambivalent attitudes toward change. Pidert (2000) research in identifying employee responses as ‘multidimensional attitudes’ further aids this. Pidert critiques past research on resistance in failing to identify good intentions of resistors. Pidert’s multidimensional attitudes identify cognitive, emotional and intentional attributes that would be best considered in the process of change. Such new approach identified, aids all employees in the involvement of the process, and not just power agents such as managers. Spreitzer and Quinn (1996) study on Ford managers further emphasized the ability for people in higher power to maintain appearances; through not supporting change when necessary; showing the ability for individuals to choose between new visions and their self-interest. Findings showed middle managers themselves blamed executives above them for resisting change. Such research is consistent with the work of Agocs (1997). Such research highlighted how middle managers themselves could fail to support the implementation of change, which can come across in their ability to manage.
Nonetheless, Labianca et al (2000) stressed the role of managers as role models. Findings showed the ability for employees to watch supervisors intently, waiting to see whether management’s commitment to change is skeptical. Such research identifies managers as critical change agents, especially in top-down alteration. It additionally highlights the difficulty for managers to make sense of reactions; being a vital role and challenging role. Managers must communicate their understandings in ways that provide subordinates with certainty. This plays with cognitive and behavioral responses of managers when given the challenge of adopting a change in which they may not have a say over, onto employees whom equally removed from the decision-making process.
In decision making, the prominence of communication and creating conditions to aid this are imperative. Dent and Goldberg (1999) work recognize that humans and how we change, has not affected any understanding concerning resistance, in academic work. Through accepting employee’s reasons for resisting, causes to overcome can be identified. Further supported in Kotter (1995) research which studied 100 companies over a ten-year period. Findings showed employees understood the reasons for change and wanted to make it happen. But obstacles were identified, in place, that prevented accomplishment. It further identified personal obstacles are rare. Consequently, the main reasons for employee resistance are not personal but organizational issues. Thus, highlights an argument for resistance being an organizational issue, held accountable in the organization and higher authority.
Similarly, this also highlights resistance to change identified in most managerial and leadership textbooks. Probing questions on durability and authenticity. First, reasons for resistance are made aware. Highlighting uncertainty, threat, consequences of decisions, loss, and tolerance. Recommendations for change also follow a similar pattern of education, negotiation, facilitation, and coercion of some form. The belief that manipulation (Kreitner, 1992), such as withholding information, to implement change on employees with the least amount of opposition are investigated. Such recommendations are written with the belief that change is the right thing, and resistors are disruptive to this process. Additionally, change is recognized as a psychological concept. In contrast to the work of Ford and Ford (2009). Moreover, Lewins (1947) work recognized barriers to change through a force-field analysis; he identified that weakening the obstacles to change was easier itself then strengthening the drivers. Such view is recognizing homeostatic control. He highlighted the importance of group dynamics itself, and how these play a role in social management. It could be considered here, that the best way to achieve dynamic change is for power influence such as executives to immerse themselves in institutional change. Lewin’s work highlighted a more systematic view than a psychological one as dominant. Thus, the importance of perception, as is adopted with a different meaning, and how managers themselves deal with implementing change in their workforce has a direct effect on the reactions of employees.
Such leads us to the work of Ezzamel et al (2001). An examination of frustrated management efforts in re-engineering working practices, in response to corporate-driven initiatives. Manager’s role in a company is to ensure sufficient productive attempt in accumulating capital for goods and service, accrued by such labor is defined. Conflicts between owners and workers; as well as design and organization of work, is prevalent and is usually dealt with by being suppressed or institutionalized. It also picks up on the idea in the labor process analysis that there is a disregard to worker’s resistance; in forms of control, playing a role in the formation and development of management control strategies. Nor, does it incorporate an appreciation as to how the direction of the approach perused by management may address resistance and in ways strengthen strategy. Such study, also identified the knowledgeability and capability of human beings themselves, and such role in resistance; which despite evidence (Kotter, 1995) still plays a mediating role. The case study at the Northern plant found workers to become skeptical of ‘lean’ working practices as they perceived it to be an intensification of management control. Rather than a relaxation of direct supervision, deploying more offensive strategies to resistance; they viewed such practices as undermining authority and credibility of managers. Such study highlighted the power of identity-investments in driving workers understanding and response to lean production initiatives. It is also pertinent how identity concerns hinder, as well as, facilitate management control strategies (Willmott, 1997).
Internal influences, such as advancements in technologies, global markets, and capital, intensify pressures to cut costs while enhancing flexibility continually. Thus, has a significant impact on managerial decision making. Luscher and Lewis (2008) case study on a lego company used the mantra; ‘the problem is not the problem, the way you think about the problem is the problem’ developed a working through paradox model for managers. Applying this model helped enable new insight into managerial challenges. Through identifying managerial issues in paradoxes of performing, belonging and organizing and through developing each situation, into an approach toward a more workable certainty. Through changing the relationships, the organization itself and the roles within this. Such study, dealing with immediate problems managers were facing, did not seek to delve deeper into future efforts. Furthermore, this deals with paradoxical issues which do not define all managerial decisions. It is also easy for managers when faced with a problematic response to change, refer to the problem solving linear mode. Nevertheless, the ability to be aware of such paradoxes can become a key managerial tool going forward in understanding inconsistencies and contradictions in such a dynamic setting; building a more creative theory. Such research overall was found to aid dealing with manager’s anxieties when dealing with change, but this did not make them disappear. Therefore, it is an understanding to develop productivity in change.
I finish with the need for bureaucracy; where change is possible. Employees themselves resist managerial decisions due to psychological and systematic influences. It is apparent that the role of the middle manager in this paradox is to understand the reasons behind resistance and recognize the need to adapt to such reasons or overcome them. The purpose of both influences has been explored in this assignment. And the most recent research has grown towards group influence and the role of the institution in adapting to change rather than that of individual employees. I leave this assignment on mutual respect for all influences and critically assess that the role of management and power is impertinent in understanding resistance going forward.
In both defenders and reformers to change; perceptions of fairness are different. Thus, bureaucracy is the grounds in which is needed, to agree and disagree amounting to a mutual understanding, touched upon in the work of Luscher and Lewis. Overall, time and effort are required at all level of authority in an organization, to understand reasons for resistance and solutions will be different, in each specific case.
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