The role of organisational commitment in the analysis of resistance to change

Riccardo Peccei (Department of Management, King's College London, London, UK)
Antonio Giangreco (IESEG School of Management – Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France)
Antonio Sebastiano (Università Carlo Cattaneo – LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 8 February 2011



This study aims to contribute to a better understanding of resistance to change (RTC) by examining the role played by organisational commitment (OC) as a potential predictor and moderator in the analysis of RTC.


First, alternative models of OC were developed, first as a co‐predictor of RTC, and then as a moderator of the relationship between key established antecedents of RTC and resistance itself. The main established antecedents of RTC examined included employees' perceptions of the benefits of change (PBC), their involvement in the change process (IIC), and their overall attitudes towards the change (ATC). The alternative OC models were tested using data from a sample of over 300 middle managers from an Italian public sector service provider company undergoing a radical process of change.


Results showed that OC, along with PBC and IIC, had a significant negative direct and indirect effect on RTC. The indirect effect was mediated by employee attitudes to the change. Contrary to expectations, however, commitment did not moderate any of the antecedents‐RTC relationships.

Research limitations/implications

Although based on self‐report cross‐sectional data, this paper suggests that, while OC has a main significant effect on RTC, it does not have a moderator effect in relation to RTC.

Practical implications

The results suggest that OC is not a substitute for the effective management of change, but rather that management would be well advised to give due consideration to both factors when planning and implementing change.

Social implications

The implications outlined above apply to a wide range of change initiatives, including the implementation of major social and economic programmes.


This paper adds to existing knowledge in the area of RTC, showing that employee attitudes towards the change is a key mediating mechanism through which OC may help to reduce resistance.



Peccei, R., Giangreco, A. and Sebastiano, A. (2011), "The role of organisational commitment in the analysis of resistance to change", Personnel Review, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 185-204.

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