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The effect of resistance in organizational change programmes: A study of a lean transformation

Jason Canning (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Pauline Anne Found (School of Business, University of Buckingham, Buckingham, UK)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the contributing factors that lead to resistance to change, and to ascertain the relationship between organizational culture and employee resistance in organizational change programmes, such as lean.


The methodology for this research is in three main parts. Firstly, a systematic review of the literature pertaining to resistance to change is, secondly, followed by a case study involving an anonymous survey and semi-structured interviews to test the assumptions drawn from the literature. Finally, the literature research and case study results are drawn together to present a new model of resistance.


The finding of the literature, along with the finding of the case study confirm that lack of communication and participant involvement during change are highlighted as significant contributing factors to resistance and that these are related to organizational culture.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst the secondary sources of information provide a significant weight of evidence to support the results from the case study, the results of the research are based on a single case study; therefore, caution should be applied before making generalizations from the data.

Practical implications

The findings can provide organizations, and change practitioners, with an insight into a number of the issues that should be considered in relation to an organizations culture before attempting large-scale change programmes.


The research findings provide a new model, the “resistance model” that identifies the interconnected issues that affect employees’ attitude to, and thus acceptance of, organizational change.



Canning, J. and Found, P.A. (2015), "The effect of resistance in organizational change programmes: A study of a lean transformation", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 7 No. 2/3, pp. 274-295.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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