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Nature and Causes of Resistance to Change

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 3494 words Published: 2nd Aug 2018

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However there are general points that can be made about the concept of organisation change. Before change take place organisation should know some key factors such as; how much change is needed? How much time is required for change to take place? When should change take place? Who should be key performer in change process? And what role should they have? Who benefits from change and harms from it.

There are mainly two forces which puts organisation to change; external and internal. First lets took at external forces:

  • Changes in demand for the organisation’s product or services for example new trends in market place, change in customer preferences, government legislation
  • Aggressive tactics of competitors for example developing an advantageous improvement in product or in service.
  • Arrival of newcomer with advance and low-cost product or service.
  • Takeover of business by more power full organisation
  • Merger and aquitation
  • Change in supplier
  • Change in terms of trade example currency exchange rate, tariff etc
  • Fail to requite skill employees
  • Change in technology available for business in term to more profits.
  • Change in government rules for example taxation, new budge, new labour law

The impact of these external forces in terms of change might differ; depending on organisation and industry in which they compete. For example supermarket Retail Company like TESCO and ASDA will give more important to its competitor. While banking organisation like HSBC or Barclays will immediately respond to economic condition or change in government rule.

Internal forces which should in theory be more predictable indication of change are as follows:

  • Planned changes in strategy as result of new mission and goals. Sometimes depends on external consideration.
  • Efforts to introduce cultural change for example change in management style, collaborative working.
  • Change in production methods to improve and make better use of resources.
  • Need to improve quality of products or services.
  • For launching new product or services developed by research and development or sales or marketing department.
  • Need to improve standards or services for dealing with suppliers.
  • Need to deploy human resources where they are most effective.
  • Need to Change or upgrade information technology.

Dealing with these external forces of change management have plane how they will respond to them. Some potential changes are being declared well in advance and in these cases planning is taken care proactively.

Other general issue concerning organisational change include resistance to change the use of key individuals as change agent and cost of implement change. It is important that managers planning changes should acknowledge that some resistance will be unavoidable.

All change will incur some direct cost an example of this is equipment cost, relocation cost, recruitment cost, and possible redundancy payment. Apart from this there will be indirect cost like communicating change to employees, providing appropriate training and temporarily redeploying key managers and staff on the projects.

Resistance to change:

There is not much point in change in “change for change’s sake.” Most people need to be persuaded of need to change. Some people fear it. The reality is that ever human grouping has some forces within it which keep it together and provide it with stability and other which provide it with reason to change or adapt. Kurt Lewin1 illustrated the dilemma neatly with his classic notion of “force field theory”. This theory suggest that all behaviours is the result of equilibrium between two set of opposite forces what he calls “driving forces and restraining forces driving forces push one way to attempt to bring about change; restraining forces push the other way in order to maintain the status quo.

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Generally speaking human being tends to prefer to use driving forces to bring about change. They want win by exerting pressure on those who oppose them but as Lewin’s model suggests the more one side push the more other side resists resulting in no change. The better way of overcoming of it is by focusing on the removal, or at least weakening of objection and fear of resisting side. Thus the initial policy should not be how we can persuade them of our arguments for change? But rather what are their objections and how we can deal with them? Lewin developed three-stage approach to changing behaviour which comprises the following step:

  • Unfreezing existing behaviour: gaining acceptance for change.
  • Changing behaviour: adopting new attitudes, modifying behaviours this is mainly done by change agent.
  • Refreezing new behaviour: that is reinforces new patters of thinking or working.

The unfreezing stage is aimed at getting people to see that change is not only necessary but is enviable. The change stage is mainly a question of identifying what need to be change in people’s attitude, values and action, and then helping them to acquire ownership of the changes. The role of change agent who is the main person responsible for helping group and individual to accept new ideas and practise is important at this stage. The refreezing stage is aimed at consolidating and reinforcing the change behaviour by various support and mechanisms like encouragement, promotion, participative management and more consultation.

Now let look at kotter’s2 theory about. John kotter a professor at Harvard business school world-renowned his eight step change process in his 1995 book “leading change” which are as follows:

  • Create and sustain a sense of urgency about the future.
  • Create and empower a leadership team a guiding of coalition.
  • Developed an end goal, vision and strategy to achieving.
  • Constantly communicate new vision and set out what change in behaviour are required.

These are four stages are intended to help deforest hardened status quo.

Empowering employees to help change happen by removing obstacle such as restrictive organisation structure, lack of necessary skills, inflexible managers and unimaginative reward system.

Generating some benefits in short-term so that people can see some tangible improvements on the way to achieving the goal.

Consolidating short gain and producing more change by continuing the action taken in stage five, introducing new projects and bringing in more people who are committed to the change that are sought.

Embedding the new approaches in organisation culture so as to avoid eventual regression into previous practice. This implies adapting the culture from some earlier model and being prepaid to adapt again the change.


The change in an organization is important to stay in the competition between the competitors in the business. Change is an inescapable part of social and organizational life.

The concept of change in organization may be wide change or small change.

Small change in organisation may be like adding new persons, modifying a program wide. Wide changes will be like lay off’s, mergers, new technologies and collaboration with a major company.

The Nature and Cause of Resistance of Change

Employees can also resist change because they will find some new technology and program to learn and there will be new challenges to face and achieve new goals, but rather they will have fear of unknown future and about ability to adopt it. (De Jader 2001) Argues that “Most people are reluctant to leave the familiar behind. We are all suspicious about the unfamiliar; we are naturally concerned about how we will get from the old to new, especially if it involves learning something new and risking failure.”


An organization can have many different forces for change its organization. Awareness of these forces will be helpful to the managers to change their organization by implementing these changes accordingly in time.

There are both external and internal forces which are discussed hereunder:-

External Forces

External forces for change will be originated outside the organization these force of change may have global effects, because organization generally have an external change when they are eventually find that they are running or going out of business.

There are basically four key factors for an external change which are discussed below:-

Demographic Characteristics

The manpower plays a vital role in business. It is like the essence of business while managing effectively in varied work force. This manpower is very varied. Because of the above the establishments have to manage more efficiently in order to receive involvement and dedication to the work from the workforce.-

Technological Advancements

As the technology is rapidly changing from day to day, they are new innovations, applications which will make the work quiet easy. It is very important to many organizations to use technology and its applications as a means to improve productivity and market competitiveness. Both manufacturing and service organizations are increasingly using technology. The best Example is most Banks in Tanzania using Automation Teller Machine.

Social Factor

Mostly all the factors of the change factors of the involves in the public around. Change in the technologies is socially good if the technologies are developing the surroundings. The change can bring the whole turnover of the company but it can happen only with the support of the employees. Unless there is a co operation from the previous employees there may not be any use in the change of management. So change in management first step is to gain support and co operation from the employees is being affected by this. If there is no support then it will be a high risk in change of management.

Political Pressures

Substantial changes can also be a force due to political events. For example, the shift from socialism economy to liberalization of economy in Tanzania created many new business opportunities. Although it might be difficult for an organization to predict change in political forces, many organizations hire lobbyists and consults which can be helpful in detecting and responding to social and political changes.

Internal Forces

Human Resource problems/projects

Human Resource is another area where an organization can change inside the organization. The management has to decide the change of skill-level of its workers and need to change the level basing on the performance of the workers. Perceptions and expectations, attitudes and values are also a common focus on organizational change.

These problems derive form employee perceptions about how they are treated at work and the match between individual and organization needs and desires. Dissatisfaction is also a symptom of an employee underlying problem which should be addressed. Absence of employees in a high level and turnover may also be a force for a change. Organizations can respond these kinds of problems by various approaches like, by implementing reasonable job previews, by reducing the role conflict of employees, burden and uncertainty and reducing the stress of the employees. Anticipation from the employee’s participation and suggestion for a positive change.

Managerial Behaviour/Decisions

Interpersonal conflicts between managers and their subordinates is also a sign where change is needed. Behaviour of the employees or managers inside the organization is very important in the organization where managers and their team are directly related to the organizational value. In such cases both manager and employee need interpersonal training or they have to be separated. Managers with leadership qualities and taking the appropriate decisions inside the team are one of the solutions for this kind of problem.

Resistance To Change

In today’s economy, change is all-pervasive in organizations. It happens continuously, and often at rapid speed. Because change has become an everyday part of organizational dynamics, employees who resist change can actually cripple an organization. (Mullins, 2005).

Resistance is a compulsory response for any major change. Individuals will rush o defend their status quo if they feel their security or status is threatened. Resistance may be the conduct which may serves to maintain the status quo in the face of pressure to alter the status quo. Individuals are not ready to resist the change, but rather they may be resisting the loss of status, loss of pay and comfort.

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Why People Resist Change in the Workplace

Now-a-days all the companies, Government departments and institutions, no matter whether public or private, no longer have a choice, the change is mandatory to survive in the competitive world but unfortunately people tend to resist change. Change in an organization is not an easy task, this will increase the pressure on the management to learn the transparency of change.

The perception of change will differ between managers and employees: top level management seeks a change is an opportunity to strengthen and to advance the business in their career, whereas for employee’s, included middle level managers change is never sought after it is disruptive and intrusive.

The following are the best described reasons why people resist change.

Fear of Failure

Resistance to change may cause fear. During periods of change, some employees may feel that the past is the most secured and predictable time. If they have performed well in the past, they may resist changing their behaviour that they may not achieve much in the future.

Creatures of Habit

Working things in same routine manner is comfortable, asking employees to change away from the routine work they may think why do we need change?. In some cases, employees may ignore change because it may require employees to experience something beyond from their normal and easy method of operation.

No obvious needs

Some employees may fail to recognize the positive impact of change in the organization, so they may find change is unnecessary. Some employees may see a change in their attitude of impact on their jobs.

Loss of control

Employees are used and are more familiar with the work style which gains a lot of control over their work environment. They may feel that this will not be possible and think they may loos control over their work when the organization is changed which may confuse the employees and feel powerless.

Unwillingness to learn

Some employees prevent their own growth and development; they may even hesitate to try or learn new routes and express their unwillingness to learn.

Fear that the new way may not be better

Some employees may resist change because they fear that the change may not result in improvement. As their current status is quiet sufficient and may not need change because they don’t know whether the change may result as the same.

Understanding and Managing the Resistance to Change

It is very much important that the managers should resist the change, if failed change efforts are costly. Cost includes decrease of employee loyalty, probability of achieving goals will be lowered, and waste of money and resources and fixing the failed change effort is difficult.

Using strategic measurements can be a way of building support. The other parts of process like, involving employees from the beginning, explaining the reason for change in the organization clearly, clear strategy, direction, vision and also accepting and respecting the viewpoints of the employees. Employees often do not accept change which cannot be controlled; however it will be more likely to have a substantial influence on change.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Resistance to change will be a complex issue by the employees in the management and ever-evolving organization of today. The process of change is extensive, and employees resistance is considered a critically important to overcome resistance to change.

There are tree key conclusions which should be kept in mind before recommending the approaches to overcome resistance.

First, an organization should be ready for change before it gets affected. It is better to conduct a survey should be conducted and evaluate it when the organization is ready to undertake change.

Second, change will not be successful when the top level management fails to inform the employees and aware them about the process of change.

Third, understanding the change may affect resistance of employees, they are less likely to resist.

Positive Resistance to Change

Managers often understand resistance negatively and employees who resist are considered disobedient and organization must overcome the obstacles in order to achieve new goals. Employee resistance will play a dominant role and useful when there is a change in organization. Initiating the proposed change by the management is possible when employees resist change. Which can help the organizations to select all possible changes in appropriate to the current situations. According to (De Jager 2001, ” Resistance is simply a very effective, very powerful, very useful mechanism.”

Monitoring Organizational Change

Effectiveness cannot be measured if the change is not monitored. During change monitoring is particularly crucial due to many forces. Complications increase while the process of change.



Tata is one the leading car manufacture in India. In 1992 the management of this company has been changed. Here the brief description of the company when Ratan tata taken over the company in 1992.

After the Ratan tata taking over the Tata businesses, he implemented many of the strategies like unite, refocus and modernize the group, the strategies were the revival of Tata administrative services (TAS) a department of Tata Services Ltd. had been recruiting talented individuals for management career acceleration in group affiliates since the 1950s. TAS had been successful compared to other domestic companies in retaining people but the prestige had waned somewhat in recent years. Ratan promoted TAS as a ‘premium career’ and elevated the program’s status among up-and coming business leaders through media exposure. TAS was to become a group talent resource by enlarging the program and improving the mobility of TAS participants among group companies.

New TAS recruits (mostly MBAs) were to work in a range of industries in the group. The

Compensation packages offered to TAS recruits are also redesigned to match the market rates. These efforts to revive TAS and make it a destination of choice for talent paid off well for Tata Sons and all the group companies which opted to participate in the TAS program.

The another important strategy was the restructuring the whole business like The objectives for restructuring were defined clearly. First one, Returns must be greater than cost of capital, Each company must be the industry leader occupying one of the top three positions; and The business identified must have potential for high growth and should be globally competitive. Having decided on these objectives, there were clear strategies for exits. There was a break from the earlier sentimental approach to businesses that have been built over decades. Ratan Tata decided to exit the businesses of soaps and toiletries, cosmetics, consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, computer and telecom hardware, branded white goods, paints, oil exploration services, cement, textiles … equally fervent was his expansion/entry into businesses identified as having high growth potential. These included passenger cars, auto components, retailing, telecom, power and insurance.


Change is inevitable and is must in the present days where it is needed in the present competitive world to stay in competition. Taking the right step in right time will save the organization from getting out the business. Change in should reflect to the goals of the organization in such a way that the members of the organization understand, implement and achieve the goals accordingly.


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