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Resistance to organizational change: linking research and practice

Dennis G. Erwin (E2 Consulting, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Andrew N. Garman (Department of Health Systems Management, Rush University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 6 February 2010

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study recently published research to identify findings that provide research‐based guidance to organizational change agents and managers in addressing individual resistance to organizational change initiatives.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines published research appearing in peer‐reviewed journals since 1998 that focus on exploring individual resistance to organizational change.

Findings

Recent published research provides considerable practical guidance to organizational change agents and managers in understanding and dealing with resistance to change. Recent research examines the cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions of individual resistance and how it is influenced by: individual predispositions towards openness and resistance to change; individuals' considerations of threats and benefits of change; communication, understanding, participation, trust in management, management styles, and the nature of relationships with the change agents.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is limited to research articles involving resistance to organizational change published in peer‐reviewed journals from 1998 to 2009. Also, the paper finds that reported research used primarily self‐report questionnaires to gather data, which are quantitatively analyzed. Such a lack of diversity of research methodologies provides a limited perspective of resistance to organizational change that might have been broadened by qualitative and practice‐based methods (e.g. case studies and action research).

Practical implications

A framework is presented linking organizational change research findings to specific change practitioner recommendations. Limitations of recent research are also discussed.

Originality/value

Most studies provide an examination of a limited number of variables influencing resistance to change, and are not necessary designed to provide practical guidance to change practitioners. This paper provides a comprehensive framework of constructs and variables specifically aimed at linking research‐based findings to guidance for change practitioners.

Keywords

Citation

Erwin, D.G. and Garman, A.N. (2010), "Resistance to organizational change: linking research and practice", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 39-56. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731011010371

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited