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Examining the relationship between employee indicators of resistance to changes in job conditions and wider organisational change: Evidence from Ireland

Seamus McGuinness (Economic Analysis Department, Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, Ireland)
Hugh Cronin (Economic Analysis Department, Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, Ireland)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 4 April 2016

2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use a linked employer-employee data set, the National Employment Survey, to examine the determinants of organisational change and employee resistance to change and, specifically, to examine the influence of employee inflexibility on the implementation of firm-level policies aimed at increasing competitiveness and workforce flexibility. A key finding arising from the research is that while workforce resistance to job-related change often forces firms to seek alternative means of achieving labour flexibility, there appears little that firms can do to prevent such resistance occurring. The presence of HRM staff, consultation procedures, wage bargaining mechanisms, bullying and equality polices, etc. were found to have little impact on the incidence of workforce resistance to changes in job conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

The objectives of this paper are twofold: first, the authors model the determinants of a measure of workforce resistance to job-related change and, second, the authors assess the impact of workforce resistance on the probability that firms will implement various wider forms of organisational change using linked employer-employee data.

Findings

Workforce resistance to proposed changes in job conditions was found to be lower in organisations employing higher shares of educated workers and also in smaller firms. HRM and employee relations measures were found to have little impact on worker resistance to changing employment conditions, while trade union density was important only with respect to alterations to core terms and conditions. Resistance was found to be important for wider organisational change.

Research limitations/implications

From a policy perspective, the key finding arising from the research is that while workforce resistance to job-related change often forces firms to seek alternative means of achieving flexibility, there appears little that firms can do to prevent such resistance occurring or mediating its impacts. The presence of HRM staff, consultation procedures, wage bargaining mechanisms, bullying and equality polices, etc. were found to have little impact on the incidence of workforce resistance to changes in job conditions.

Social implications

The results support the hypothesis that the increased use of peripheral workers observed in many aspect of the economy is due, at least in part, to inflexibility among existing workers to take on additional roles and responsibilities.

Originality/value

The paper utilises a linked employee-employer data set in a novel way to investigate within firm relationships and tests a number of hypotheses using advanced econometric techniques.

Keywords

Citation

McGuinness, S. and Cronin, H. (2016), "Examining the relationship between employee indicators of resistance to changes in job conditions and wider organisational change: Evidence from Ireland", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 30-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/EBHRM-04-2015-0013

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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