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Organizational outcomes of leadership style and resistance to change (Part One)

Steven H. Appelbaum (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Medea Cesar Degbe (Consultant in Project Management, Montréal, Québec, Canada)
Owen MacDonald (Matrox, Montréal, Québec, Canada)
Thai-Son NGUYEN-QUANG (Ernst & Young, Montréal, Québec, Canada)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




Organizations must react rapidly to evolving environments by engaging in change, ranging from minor adjustments to radical transformation. Many obstacles are encountered on the path towards achieving positive organizational outcomes, among which resistance to change (RTC) prevents the level of mobilization critical to achieve a successful transformation. The purpose of this two-part paper is to offer a review of the body of knowledge explaining how leadership styles may address RTC in order to achieve desired organizational outcomes. For this purpose, multiple organizational concepts are visited and linked through a synthesized model proposing causality relationships between the various elements.


A range of recently published empirical and practitioner research articles were reviewed to analyse the relationships in search of the variables that affect resistance during a major organizational change. In order to synthesize and bridge many concepts that are often studied separately, an overall model is proposed to help establish causal relationships between the elements of interest influencing organizational outcomes, in the context of a change.


Leadership acts as an input at multiple levels, influencing organizational outcomes both directly – by continuously shaping employee attitude throughout change – and indirectly – by regulating the antecedents and moderators of their predisposition to change. These subsequently shape the extent of RTC, which translates from the perception of, commitment to and involvement in the change process. The interaction of the organizational environment with these factors ultimately determines the organizational outcome resulting from the change initiatives.

Research limitations/implications

The model must be tested in another empirical article to measure its effectiveness. The complexity of the model may, however, hinder the ability to successfully correlate all the concepts.

Practical implications

The paper suggests an overall framework that may help leaders and organizational development practitioners identify the major factors which may be considered during a change initiative or a transformation.

Social implications

This paper highlights the multi-dimensional role of leadership style in successfully achieving organizational changes. Leaders’ emotional aptitude to influence their followers and employees’ natural and contextual predisposition to change transact to shape organizational outcomes. These social elements must be carefully assessed not only prior to embarking on a change implementation, but also to proactively invest in psychologically directed organizational training and development, at all hierarchical levels.


The synthesis model is the novel contribution of the paper. It proposes an organized approach to relate multiple close yet distinct concepts that have so far been predominantly discussed separately.



Appelbaum, S.H., Degbe, M.C., MacDonald, O. and NGUYEN-QUANG, T.-S. (2015), "Organizational outcomes of leadership style and resistance to change (Part One)", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp. 73-80.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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