File Name: resistance to organizational change the role of cognitive and affective processes .zip
The relationship between context, attitudes and well-being in organizational change. A model was proposed to assess whether attitudes mediate the relationship between the context of organizational change and well-being. A quantitative study was conducted to test the model in three Brazilian public organizations that underwent organizational change processes.
Organizational change is a particularly emotional event for those being confronted with it. Anger is a frequently experienced emotion under these conditions. It was explored whether anger reactions conducive to recovering or increasing individual well-being will enhance the likelihood of functional change behavior.
Dysfunctional regulation strategies in terms of individual well-being are expected to decrease the likelihood of functional change behavior—mediated by the commitment to change. Four hundred and twelve employees of different organizations in Luxembourg undergoing organizational change participated in the study.
Findings indicate that the anger regulation strategy venting, and humor increase the likelihood of deviant resistance to change. The mediating effect of commitment to change has been found for humor and submission. The empirical findings suggest that a differentiated conceptualization of resistance to change is required. Specific implications for practical change management and for future research are discussed.
Following the general shift of attention by psychological researchers from cognitive to affective processes [ 1 ], an increase in the number of studies focusing on the role of emotions during organizational change, the interaction of emotions with cognitions, and the impact of emotions on change-behavior has been observed [ 2 ].
This increase in research on emotion in organizations led to the integration of complex psychological processes in the modeling of organizational change processes [ 3 ]. Emotions are no longer seen as interrupting well-structured processes but as providing necessary information to effectively deal with complex social situations [ 4 ]. Many studies on innovation and organizational change still rather emphasize organizational-level factors based on a top-down perspective of implementation.
The individual-level, bottom-up processes of innovation have often been ignored, even though many change-implementations fail due to a lack of acceptance and realization by those confronted with the change [ 5 ].
As a consequence, researchers in the field state that further research is required focusing on the role of emotions for differential behavior during change [ 6 ]. The well-established Affective Events Theory AET [ 7 ] theoretical framework related to affect in the workplace serves as a model for our study.
AET supports the idea that singular work events influence long term workplace behavior through emotional states or, more specifically, emotion regulation strategies. Workplace behaviors are conceptualized to include change specific performance. Organizational change is generally considered to have the strongest potential to trigger emotions compared to other work events [ 8 ].
Organizational change can be defined as a stressful process, which can be perceived as a threat or a challenge by the individual. In this context, the assessment of the change event will be influenced by the impossibility to anticipate outcomes of processes under change, by interpersonal or inter-role conflicts because of unclear roles within new organizational processes, by perceived injustice or perceived loss of control [ 6 ].
These evaluations will impact the emotions that occur and according to AET, these emotions in turn will influence behavior during change [ 9 ]. The first question in this context is which emotion is especially relevant during change.
Explorative studies show that fear, but also contentment or pride are often reported. These are therefore considered relevant emotions during organizational change. Other studies point out that anger can be assumed to be especially relevant in our context of interest [ 10 ]. Individuals report anger most likely when their goals have been thwarted, individual or group norms have been violated or injustice is perceived [ 11 ].
Anger is likely to play an important role in the change process for several reasons: firstly, there is the change inherent risk to frustrate individual goals by changing tasks and processes , secondly, there is the risk of lack of support for instance because of managerial overload during change , thirdly the risk of higher work load, and finally endangered social relationships by restructuring work groups or layoffs. The statement that anger is a relevant emotion during organizational change alone does neither hold an inherent assumption about the quality of behavior during organizational change, nor about its functionality.
Anger is a multidimensional emotion that involves an appraisal of responsibility for wrongdoing by another person or entity and often includes the goal of correcting the perceived wrongness [ 13 ]. Anger reactions bear functional and dysfunctional implications for work life and performance as well as for individual well-being. Traditionally, research on anger, and even more so in the organizational context, focuses on the maladaptive consequences of anger and thus the negative aspect of anger [ 14 ].
Lately, we witness an increased interest in a social functional approach to anger—an approach that is still underrepresented in organizational research [ 15 , 16 ]. As we are interested in the impact of change related anger on change behavior, we focus on the multidimensionality of anger reactions: Is anger rather related to aggression, work related stress, raised blood pressure, less cooperation and productivity or more to increased determination, preparedness to take responsibility and problem solving competencies?
The answer can only be elucidated in the light of anger regulation strategies and under consideration of the characteristics of the situation in question [ 17 ]. With the objective to establish or enhance individual well-being, the functionality of anger regulation strategies refers to the extent to which they are likely to: a change the sources of anger and reduce the likelihood of future incidents, b reduce feelings of anger, and c to dampen physiological reactivity [ 18 ].
It is important to note that an anger reaction, conducive for recovering or increasing individual well-being and that is therefore perceived as being beneficial by the individual, does not have to be functional in terms of performance or organizational outcomes at the organizational level as we will exemplify further down. Conversely, Active change support does not preclude that the protagonist did not feel angry during the change process or because of it.
The objective of this study is to add to the understanding of these seemingly contradictory interrelationships. Three research questions concerning behavior during organizational change guided our research:. Which habitual anger reactions potentially contribute to functional change behavior in the organizational perspective and which habitual anger reactions are likely to act as obstacles for organizational change?
Furthermore, the influence of other facilitators or barriers explaining stated behavioral differences will be integrated in our analysis such as context factors or change related attitudes to allow for some of the complexity in our research question see Figure 1 for an integration of the aforementioned interdependencies.
Integration of the hypotheses based on the redrawn AET-model see [ 20 ], p. This study was conducted in four Luxembourg-based organizations undergoing organizational change and supplemented by an open survey EFS Survey 6. As a direct consequence of the financial crisis, which also affected Luxembourg-based companies, acquisition of participating organizations was particularly difficult and took 17 months.
The survey itself was limited to two weeks within each organization. Respondents were asked to provide socioeconomic characteristics, including age, sex, hierarchical status, seniority, workplace, and nationality. Other changes are the removal of the company or a change within social factors. Venting : In contrast to the catharsis hypothesis [ 22 ], venting is perceived as dysfunctional for anger coping and therefore also for individual well-being.
Under this perspective venting refreshes the anger event and escalates conflict rather than reinforcing conflict resolution [ 23 ]. In the context of organizational change, venting is likely to violate organizational norms for anger expression [ 16 , 24 ] and is appraised as dysfunctional change behavior.
In this perspective, venting is expected to have a positive impact on deviant resistance to change. This social approach discloses social resources that help the individual to find efficient ways for anger regulation when solution oriented. In the light of humanistic management approaches, feedback can be seen as a basis for participation and can be understood as functional, even as active support of change.
However, if the organization does not apply a participative management approach, feedback can be understood as active resistance. In both cases, the influence of feedback should be mediated by commitment to change as the cognitive—emotional evaluation will be the basis for problem solution manifested by feedback.
Humor : Humor, or more precisely coping-humor, is—as well as downplaying —understood as a form of cognitive reappraisal. As already established in the psychoanalytic tradition humor thus enhances individual well-being, increases social attraction of the humorous individual and positive affect in general and reduces physiological arousal [ 27 ].
More recently, humor has been defined as a multidimensional construct, consisting of affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive and self-defeating dimensions [ 28 ]. These latter two dimensions have more negative implications—especially within working context [ 29 ]. Taking into consideration the positive consequences of coping-humor as a strategy for cognitive reappraisal, we hypothesize a positive influence of humor on change support, mediated by commitment to change. Downplaying : Reappraising the potentially anger evoking situation is expected to also have a positive influence on supportive change behavior as it enhances individual well-being and therefore openness for dealing with the change.
Rumination : Lybumirsky and colleagues [ 30 ], p. Chronic rumination increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases [ 31 ] an effect that is stronger for women who tend to ruminate more than men [ 32 ]. Rumination can be an expression of learned helplessness. The emergence, upkeep and consequences of burnout, chronic pain and stress have been discussed in this light [ 33 ].
Taking these findings into account, we predict active change support to be less prevalent in those individuals who tend to habitually ruminate while passive support or passive resistance might be positively influenced by habitual rumination.
Submission : Submission is defined here as special case of suppression [ 34 ] which is especially important at the work place. The authors see submission as motivation to suppress anger—leading in the end to the same consequences. Although rather dysfunctional for the individual well-being, the organization might define this anger reaction as functional change behavior as it does not lead to resistance against change. We suggest that submission as habitual anger reactions makes passive support of change more likely.
As suggested by Russell and Eisenberg [ 20 ] the AET-model includes the cognitive-emotional evaluation of the as complement of the event related attitude. We therefore integrated commitment to change as result of the cognitive-emotional evaluation of the organizational change event here.
Their commitment-concept is composed of three commitment-dimensions—affective, calculative and normative commitment. In this paper we will focus on the first two commitment dimensions. In parallel, affective commitment might also prevent deviant resistance to change. Calculative commitment to change refers to employee support for change without being persuaded. The employee supports change because he or she wants to prevent anticipated negative consequences of resistant behavior.
Calculative commitment to change is expected to have the same implication as affective commitment to change, but the effects should be weaker. According the implications of AET, commitment might mediate the impact of habitual anger reactions on change behavior.
The hypotheses concerning habitual anger reactions can be summed up as follows, resistance to change is expected to be higher in employees who tend to vent their anger 1a and—depending on feedback culture of the organization—who tend to give feedback as habitual anger reaction 1b. The influence of feedback is likely to be mediated by commitment to change 1c.
Active change support is more likely when employees habitually tend to give feedback when angry 2a —if feedback is welcome in the organization in question. Habitually reappraising anger by reacting humorously to anger evoking situations 2b or by downplaying the incident 2c are also predicted to have a positive influence on active change support. All influence on active change support are be mediated by commitment to change 2d. Passive change support might also be enhanced by cognitive reappraisal humor, 3a and downplaying, 3b as well as by rumination 3c and submission 3d as outlined above.
Again, the influence will be mediated by commitment to change 3e. To capture context- and process-variables, which, according to AET determine the affective evaluation of an event, we integrated the perceived impact of change, justice perceptions and the perceived turbulence of the change environment in our study. This additional step respects the complexity of organizational change influencing individual change behavior.
Research in organizational justice perception has shown that when organizational decisions and managerial actions are deemed unfair, the affected employees experience feelings of anger, outrage and a desire for retribution [ 39 ]. Both perceptions of procedural [ 40 ] and interactional [ 41 ] injustice have been associated with feelings of anger among employees. Distributive justice perception being an important anger eliciting appraisal is more connected to change outcomes than to process characteristics and is therefore not considered here.
The perception of major organizational change and also the perception of a turbulent change environment enhance uncertainty and ambiguity [ 42 ] which in turn impair a positive affective commitment to the change and somewhat strengthen risk awareness.
The latter should lead to calculative commitment to change. Based on our theoretical assumptions we also expect a positive influence of perceived change impact as well as turbulence on anger state. Interactional and procedural justice perceptions have a negative impact on anger state and a positive impact on affective commitment to change but should not add to the understanding of calculative commitment to change which is more related to the fact of change per se and less to the content or the way the change is carried out [ 37 ].
Based on the results of a preliminary study it was determined that an important affective event in the context of organizational change is the first information about the future change given by those implementing the change [ 43 ]. This first change announcement served as affective event in the present study. Because of unsatisfying internal consistencies and also because of theoretical implications if behavior during change is viewed as a continuum, active change support and active resistance should load on the same factor with opposite signs which contradicts our conception of resistance to change , we tested the factor structure of this scale.
This article contributes to the academic debate about gender equality change by conceptualizing resistance to gender equality change as characteristic of a system where gendered organizations tend to move back to an equilibrium when confronted with change. It explores the role of change agents and change recipients in challenging this equilibrium using autobiographical reflections on three events of resistance during participatory action research aimed at gender equality in Dutch universities. Organizational change cognitively and emotionally challenges not only change recipients but also change agents. Reflection on and sharing of personal experiences in groups of researchers may be sources of empowerment, enabling gender equality change agents to continue the conversation with change recipients. This conversation may transform not only change recipients but also change agents. Case studies on gender equality change projects report these as coming with large resistance Benschop and Verloo, , ; Cavaghan, ; Connel, Examples include men opposing the entrance of women into previously masculine domains and stakeholders denying that gender inequality is a problem or using research as delaying tactics Benschop and Verloo, :
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Most previous studies of organizational change and resistance take an organizational perspective as opposed to an individual perspective. This paper investigates the relationship between irrational ideas, emotion and resistance to change. Nine organizations implementing major change were surveyed providing data from respondents.
The sample of the study consisted of primary and middle schools teachers selected randomly.
Following a long period during which scholarly attention was paid predominantly to the role of change agents in organizational change, change recipients and their experiences have finally begun to take center stage. Yet the typical view of recipients has been as passive reactors to change. In this article we take steps toward highlighting the central, active roles change recipients play in organizational change events. We describe the primary and secondary appraisal processes through which each response type emerges and discuss outcomes of each response type. Finally, we discuss implications of our model for theory, research, and practice. Learn About the New eReader. Downloaded times in the past 12 months.
Metrics details. Implementation of evidence-based practices in health care implies change. We conducted interviews with 30 health care professionals physicians, registered nurses and assistant nurses employed in the Swedish health care system. An inductive approach was applied, using a semi-structured interview guide developed by the authors. Analysis of the data yielded 10 types of change responses, which could be mapped onto 5 of the 7 change response categories in the framework. Participants did not report change responses that corresponded with the two most extreme forms of responses in the framework, i. Most of the change responses were classified as either indifference or passive resistance to changes.
Organizational change is a particularly emotional event for those being confronted with it. Anger is a frequently experienced emotion under these conditions. It was explored whether anger reactions conducive to recovering or increasing individual well-being will enhance the likelihood of functional change behavior. Dysfunctional regulation strategies in terms of individual well-being are expected to decrease the likelihood of functional change behavior—mediated by the commitment to change. Four hundred and twelve employees of different organizations in Luxembourg undergoing organizational change participated in the study. Findings indicate that the anger regulation strategy venting, and humor increase the likelihood of deviant resistance to change.
DOI/; Corpus ID: Resistance to organizational change: the role of cognitive and affective processes.
Cognitive inertia is the tendency for a particular orientation in how an individual thinks about an issue, belief or strategy to resist change. In clinical and neuroscientific literature it is often defined as a lack of motivation to generate distinct cognitive processes needed to attend to a problem or issue. The physics term inertia is to emphasize the rigidity and resistance to change in the method of cognitive processing that has been in use for a significant amount of time. Commonly confused with belief perseverance , cognitive inertia is the perseverance of how one interprets information, not the perseverance of the belief itself. Cognitive inertia has been causally implicated in disregard of impending threat to one's health or environment, enduring political values and deficits in task switching. Interest in the phenomenon was largely taken up by economic and industrial psychologists to explain resistance to change in brand loyalty, group brainstorming and business strategies.
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Resistance to organizational change: the role of cognitive and affective processes - Author: Wayne H. Bovey, Andy Hede.