Examining Resistance to Change in an Organization

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People generally fear what they do not understand and this is nowhere more apparent than in resistance to new technology. During the 1990s, many older employees strenuously resisted the introduction of computers into the workplace because they were not familiar with them, did not understand them and did not consider themselves to be sufficiently technically knowledgeable to be able to operate them. Gradually, over time and with sufficient employee training sessions, they came to be accepted as the norm and it is now extremely rare, if not impossible, to find a workplace that doesn\rquote t use computers in some form or another.But when it comes to resisting the change different framework may be required on different situation. It totally depends on the environment the role which we may exercise. Because resistance can occur for such a wide range of reasons, it is doubtful if there is a single method that can deal with them all. Thus, a contingency approach, in which the method used is centered on the reason for resistance, is likely to be more appropriate. \par

there are couple of measures that we can take before approaching to change, which are also sited by Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) are:\par

1. Education and/or communication\par

2. Participation\par

3. Faciliation and support\par

4. negotiation\par

5. Co-optation\par

6. Manipulation\par

7. Coercion\par


Cultures and Organizations, which Hofstede, had an original work and gives a classic understanding of cultute winthin organization. It aims to helps to understand the differences in values and resolve the differences in practices between cultures. He explains a comprehensive model to describe culture as a concept and to identify the characteristics of particular societies, mapping out a cultural diagram with descriptive data on more than 50 countries world-wide. The categories Hofstede used to describe differences have been widely adopted in the field of intercultural studies:-\par

Power Distance \endash the extent to which an unequal distribution of power is accepted.\par

Individualism \endash whether a society is based on loose cooperation of individuals, as opposed to integrating people into cohesive groups.\par

Masculinity \endash how central a role traditionally male values like earnings, recognition, advancement and challenge play in a society.\par

Uncertainty Avoidance \endash the extent to which uncertain or unknown situations are seen as a threat.\par

Another dimension, is based on Confucian dynamism and includes a\ldblquote Long -Term Orientation\rdblquote category.\par

The value of Hofstede\rquote s idea for the global business leader lays both in the foundation for thorough cross-cultural understanding it builds and in the discussion of organizational implications found in its final chapters. These include organizational structures, cooperation across cultures, international negotiations, and more. While Hofstede\rquote s framework helps to understand the leadership differences between the two countries if fails to explain some factors. So for examples does high Japanese power distance explain hierarchical structures and respect to superiors but the theoretical assumptions of complete centralisation of power, low emphasis on developing the workforce and autocratic top-down contact initiation (Hofstede, 1990) do not fully reflect the Japanese working environment. Some critics argue that many of the author\rquote s findings and observations are too out dated, the world having changed much over the last twenty years. While the point has some legitimacy, the speed at which cultures change usually gets overestimated. They also arguably point out the facts such as, limited in scope of methodology and measurement and only reflect a blend of organisational culture and national cultures. But In my view, most of Hofstede observations are still valid, and his suggestions remain applicable to a large degree. These are the basic structure to understand organizational culture. To me it tells more about people as a general and prepares one for the basic understanding of situation within the organization.\par

Within an organization the main leading function is the through people, both individually and in groups. This is outlined in such a way to influence people to be high performers through motivation and inspiration. As most of the Leaders share their vision for the future Sam Walton shares his vision for the future of Wal-Mart through this slogan; \ldblquote saving people money so they can live better\rdblquote (Wal-Mart, 2008). From 1962 Walton has been proud of his vision for Wal-Mart and has passionately shared with all employees.\par

Depending on specific needs there are many leadership styles that an organization can choose from. What styles to select depends on which one will be most effective. The selection of leadership styles can make or break an organization and also is the influential factor on how staffs function. Wal-Mart the US giant has chosen to use a charismatic leadership style. This type of styles involves the leader to inject huge doses of enthusiasm into a team (Mind tools, 2008). Wal-Mart also uses servant leadership. This style involves any person at any level within the organization to be a leader and lead simply by meeting the needs of the team (Mind tools, 2008). Wal-Mart management are just not sitting behind a desk but rather walking around the floor with their fellow associates. This is happening on both at stores and in distribution centers.\par

Different leadership approach maintains the creation and maintenance of a healthy organizational culture. \ldblquote At Wal-Mart different levels of styles work with different levels of the organization and in different situations. With front line workers both a democratic leadership solicits input from others and a autocratic style of leadership makes decisions and announces them to the group. These styles can work in a partnership to create a healthy culture. An example of a autocratic leadership is when a manager plans the number of hours required for coverage on the cash registers each day of the week. A democratic leadership style would then allow the cashiers to bid for the hours they would like to work. This can create a positive work environment because the hours are determined based on the stores needs and budget and the employees have input on which hours they want to work. This concept can be taken one step further and support a feeling of greater democracy by allowing the employees with seniority to have first choice. Bureaucratic leadership works effectively in situations that require strict procedure adherence. \ldblquote Bureaucratic leaders work by the book ensuring that their staff follow procedures precisely\rdblquote (Leadership styles, 2008).\rdblquote (mrstripp, 2010). Sam Walton had charisma as is evident in the way the early days of Wal-Mart were described (Frank, 2006). \ldblquote Charismatic leaders are dominant, exceptionally self confident and have a strong conviction in the moral righteousness of their beliefs\rdblquote (Bateman & Snell, 2009). This type of style is effective in situations such as collecting cash from the cashiers. A process would be identified and only certain levels of management would be trained on the process. The process also has no flexibility. Charismatic leadership is important for top levels of management in most organizations.\par

every one resisest to change no matter where and how it is happening. according to Mullins the key forces that drive change and organisation-individual conflict are:\par

1. Uncertain economic conditions\par

2. Globalisation\par

3. Government intervention and political interests\par

4. Outsourcing and the redefinition of core business\par

5. Increased demand for high quality goods, services and customer satisfaction\par

6. Fragmentation and distribution of work across people, organisations and locations\par

7. Changing demographics and expectations of workforce\par

8. Advances in technology\par

9. Increasing pace, scale and complexity of organisational change\par

Drivers of Change\par

(Mullins 2010)\par

In an organizational setting change is the only constant thing. no matter where the busniness is or how it is operating there will be some sort of change no matter what. "Organizational change is ineffective without strong leadership. Managing change requires a strong and unwavering commitment from the CEO or change leader, and the team that drives and supports the change effort, to create buy-in and gain the commitment of all stakeholders. It has been argued that change cannot be managed, but rather one should be preparing for, leading, and responding to change. It is a fact that change is constant and unavoidable, and organizational survival is dependent on developing the ability to adapt to and embrace change proactively. \par

Therefore, successful change management begins with an effective leader who can respond to and lead the transformation challenge by creating new systems to drive the renewal process.\par

However, many change efforts have resulted in failure. Evidence suggests that the probability of failure is higher when organizations react to fads in the marketplace rather than cultivate a culture that monitors and responds to change in a proactive fashion, which fosters stakeholder involvement and alignment with the organization\rquote s vision and strategy. \par

Kotter noted that many of these unsuccessful change efforts occur due to many shortcomings. These include: failure to generate a sense of urgency; failure to establish a powerful guiding coalition; no clear vision or strategy to direct the change effort; ineffective communication of the change vision to all stakeholders; failure to identify and eliminate obstacles to change; failure to create and recognize short-term achievements; celebrating success prematurely, causing stakeholders to lose focus; failure to firmly incorporate the changes into the corporate culture.(Kotter 2007) While the role of effective leadership in the change process is clearly recognized, the measures to be pursued to achieve it are often unclear. Indeed, organizations today face several leadership challenges, which must be resolved to achieve successful change management"(Francis 2010)\par

With globalisation and related rise in trade and commerce effective leadership has become indispensable in the business world. Where traditionally the business leader took the role of commanding \ldblquote the troops\rdblquote towards effectiveness and efficiency this has changed dramatically over the last decades. The service industry rise, knowledge management trends, increased workforce diversity combined with international trading and global sourcing of talent, has noticeably changed the role of the leader in the modern organisation. Numerous firms are in global alliances depending upon flexibility/adaptability to local markets, requiring their managers to possess appropriate leadership styles to cope effectively with different value systems and cultures. (Coviello et al., 1998)\par

Arguably, the flattening of hierarchical structures has also contributed to this reshaping process as traditional sources of authority, upon which leaders have built on for years, has been reduced. Combined with the rise of new trading powers such as the \ldblquote Asian Dragon\rdblquote , business leaders especially in international MNE\rquote s do not only face domestic multiculturalism and diversity but are also increasingly expatriated. Consequently completely new cultural drawbacks and challenges are faced requiring understanding of cultural values as well as quick cultural adaptation to transfer domestic leadership abilities into foreign markets. Combined with steadily rising competitive pressures, the contemporary business leader in a role not easily filled.\par


Clearly there are ethical challenges in use of authority and power. Among these are the destructive effects on social contract between the leader and follower. Being a leader allows more influence and authority over others outcome and events more largely. The leader also has many benefits and privileges, including higher financial rewards and freedom to stay at a distance, if desired. But these benefits come at a price of responsibility and accountability to followers. Where the leader is seen to be power oriented, unfair, and self serving, especially in the face of failures, the goal of mutual identification is hardly achievable. Instead, followers may feel estranged and ultimately take their loyalty elsewhere.\par