Causes of Resistance to Organizational Change

The main reasons for resistance to change are both individual and organization. The research document of individual and organizational behavior has found that organization groups and individuals resist change. Resistance to change provides a degree of stability and predictability to behavior, as it does not allow immediate change. If there was no resistance to change the organization will take on characteristics of chaotic randomness.

Read: Reactions to Organization Change

There may be reasons for resistance to change for analytical purpose, lets us categories the causes into the following.

  1. Individual Resistance.
  2. Group Resistance.
  3. Organizational Resistance.

1. Individual Resistance

Individual arise due to differing perceptions, personalities and needs. Some of these reasons appear to be rational and emotional. These reasons are listed below,

a). Economic Factors

The economic reasons for the resistance to change may be the following:

  • In organization when the development or change on technology takes place, employee resists the change. Employee may fear that the change will lead to technological unemployment. Generally, new technology is associated with education of labor intake and therefore they resist the change. For example the introduction of computer in an organization means that employee will have to learn the certain package to work efficiently. They may not be liked by some employees and they develop negative attitude towards computer and resist them.
  • In organization where pay is tied to productivity individuals usually resists change as they fear that they will not be able to perform new task effectively, thus causing a decline in productivity and a decrease in their income.
  • Workers may fear that they will be demoted if they do not acquire the skills required for the new jobs.
  • Workers resist the changes which lead to high standards which in turn may reduce the opportunities for bonus or incentive pay.

Habit: All human being are creatures of habit. Individual generally feel comfortable in the environment that they are habituated to. The modern life is very complex and no one likes to consider the full range of option for the hundreds of decision which has to be made everyday. Instead we rely on habit or programmed responses. When confronted with change, the thought if moving away from the environment they are accustomed to become a source of resistance.

Insecurity: Safety and security are high priority for every individual. One of the major reasons for resistance to change is uncertainty about the impact of change, especially on the job security. When employees feel that the security of the job is threatened by change, they resist it. The fear unknown always has a major impact on the decision of the individual.

Lack of Communication: If the workers are given an opportunity to participate in the process of change, the resistance is likely to be less. But if the change is not properly communicated that to in an acceptable manner to the employees, it is likely to cause resistance.

Extent of Change: If there is a minor change and the change involves only the routine operations the resistance will be minimum or no resistance. But in case of major changes like reshuffling of staff will lead to major visible resistance. Similarly the process of change is slow, the resistance will be less as compared to rapid or sudden change.

b). Psychological Factors

One of the major reasons for resistance can be emotional turmoil that a change may cause especially if the past experiences with the change have not been positive. The psychological reasons for the resistance to change are:

  • Workers may have the fear that the new job will bring boredom and monotony as a result of specialization brought by the new technology.
  • Change in technology brings new method of doing the job and it must be learnt and adopt the new ideas of doing the job. To learn these ideas they need work hard and they do not want to take the trouble in learning new things.
  • The workers may be incapable of understanding the implications of new ideas and method.
  • Workers may not like criticism implied in a change that the present method is inadequate and unsuitable.
  • New changes may lead to reduction of the personal pride of the workers because they fear that new work changes will do away with the need for much manual work.

c). Social Factors

Every individual have social needs like friends, belongingness, etc. In organization, while working employee develop social relationship with the other employees. They become members of certain informal group. The change will bring a fear in mind of people because generally people dislike with for new adjustment, breaking present social relationship reduce social relationship, feeling of outside interference in the form change agent etc.

2. Group Resistance

While working in an organization the employee form informal group in the organization. The most organizational change has impact in informal group in the organization. Breaking up a close knit work group or changing social relationship can provoke a great deal of resistance. The main reason why the groups resist change is that they fear that their cohesiveness or existence is threatened by it. This is particularly true in case of group which are very cohesive where people have a strong case of belongingness to group and where member consider the group as superior to the other groups.

3. Organizational Resistance

Organizational resistance means that the change is resisted at the level of the organization itself. Some organizations are so designed that they resist new ideas, this is specifically true in case of organizations which are conservative in nature. Government agencies want to continue doing what they have been doing for a number of years even though there is need for the change in their services. Majority of the business firms are also resistant to changes. The major reasons for organizational resistance are:

  • Threat to Power. Top management generally considers change as a threat to their power and influence in the organization due to which the change will be resisted by them. The introduction of participative decision making or self-managed work teams is the kind of change which is often seen as threatening by the middle and top level management.
  • Group inertia. Sometimes, the individuals resist change because the group to which they belong resists it. The degree and force of resistance will depend upon how loyal one is to the group and how effectively the group resists the change.
  • Organizational structure. Change is often resisted by the bureaucratic structures where jobs are narrowly defined, lines of authority clearly spelled and flow of information is stressed from top to bottom. Moreover, organizations are made up of a number of interdependent subsystems, one system cannot be changed without affecting the others.
  • Threat to specialization. Change in organization may threaten the expertise of specialized groups. For example, giving computer training to all the employees in the organization and giving personal computers was perceived as a threat by the experts in computer department of the organization.
  • Resource constraints. Organizations need adequate financial resource for training change agents and for offering rewards to those who support change. An organization who does not have resources for implementing the change resists it.
  • Sunk cost. The change is generally resisted by the top management because it often leads to the problem of sunk costs. The heavy capital which already invested in the fixed assets or the amount which has already been spent on the training of the employees will go waste if the change is introduced.

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