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Handbook Of Operant Classical Conditioning

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Change management is a process of identifying changing market trends, designing a change program and introducing a change in the workplace in order to cope up with the market trends and to remain competitive (Kotter, 2007).

The spread of globalisation has made the business world more complex and competitive. With the increase in the reach of business organisations and also of the customers, business organizations in all industries are competing with each other at a global scale and have become vulnerable to multiple internal and external environment factors, which can undergo a change in real time. Environment factors, such as social, economic, technological, etc. can undergo a change in real time, which forces business organisations to introduce changes in their work operations and processes, in order to remain competitive and ensure market sustainability (Techtarget, 2015).

Resistance to change

Introducing changes in the workplace has become an important factor in organisation success as it assists business organisations in increasing their overall competencies and in remaining competitive but managing workplace changes is not an easy task (McSweeney & Murphy, 2014). Designing and implementing changes in the workplace is such a dubious task that a number of organisations have miserably failed in their attempt to introduce workplace changes while some organisations have lost their market share to their competitors in their attempts to implement changes.

One of the prime reasons behind the failure of business organisations in implementing workplace change is resistance to change. Resistance to change is a natural process where the stakeholders demonstrate a negative reaction towards the change program if they perceive it as a threat (Changingminds, n.d.).


Why employees resist workplace changes?

Resistance to change has been considered as one of the prime reasons behind the failure of change initiatives but most of the times, it is the inability of the management to implement the change effectively and in dealing with the resistance to change offered by the stakeholders.

Resistance to change during a change initiative can occur due to a number of reasons. Some of the reasons behind the origin of resistance to an organisational change are discussed below:

Loss of status, power or job insecurity à it is a natural tendency of human beings to resist changes that can have an impact on their work lives, personal lives or can bring them out of their comfort zones. In an organisational setting, resistance to change can be shown by employees whenever they feel threatened by upcoming technological or administrative changes, which can result in their role and responsibility being reduced, undermined or eliminated. The employees perceive such changes as a threat to their existence in the organisation and end up offering resistance to the change program (Tanner, 2017).

Organisational wide changes can sometimes involve downsizing of the workforce or can sometimes involve a complete restructuring of an organisation. When such changes are being planned and implemented, the employees become insecure about their jobs and are more likely to resist such change programs (Bytestart, 2015). Therefore, loss of status, power or being insecure about their jobs is one of the prime reasons, which makes the employees show resistance to change programs.

Fear of the unknown and improper communication à another major reason behind the failure of change management programs and also behind the origin of resistance to change is the fear that the employees develop in their mind when they are not properly informed about the change program and its objectives (Stark, 2010). Most of the times, the management fails to effectively communicate the change management program with its stakeholders and lesser the stakeholders know about the change program and its likely impact on the organisation, more will be the resistance that they would offer to the change program. As a result, most of the people are of the view that keeping the employees involved in the change management process can help business organisations in dealing with resistance to change (Adenle, 2011).

Peer pressure à Whether introverts or extroverts, all employees working in a business organisation are a part of a group and have a tendency to resist changes that are against the interests of the group to which they belong. If a change is perceived by the employees as a threat to the bond that they have with the other people, they will show resistance to change and make it difficult for the organisation to successfully implement a change.

Organisational climate and politics à the climate of an organisation and the politics within a workplace has a major role to play in the process of introducing workplace changes. If there is lack of trust in the organisation, implementing a change can become a night mare for the managers as the employees are not able to place their trust in anybody and perceive a change program as a threat to their jobs (Rick, 2011).

On the other hands, organisational politics and bureaucracy can also become a prime reason for resistance to change because the employees can resist change to prove that the leaders of the change program are not worthy of their position or to prove that their initiatives are not going to bring any fruitful results for the company.


Poor timing à in certain cases, it is not just about the actions of the change facilitators that paves way for resistance to change but can also be sometimes because of the change being introduced at a wrong time or in an awkward situation. It is important for the managers to introduce a change at the right time so that the employees are adequately prepared for the change and do not consider it unwanted or ineffective (Ford, Ford, & D'Amelio3, 2008).

An apropriate example of resistance to change due to poor timing or not recognizing the need for a change can be studies from the rivalry between traditional taxi companies and companies like Uber and Ola. The traditional taxi companies resisted some technological changes at a time when they were necessary and tried to implement them at a time when it was already too late. Thus, a majority of the traditional companies have still not been able to implement technological changes and have been entirely thrown out of the market competition. (BOUQUET & RENAULT, 2014).

Lack of reward à one of the most obvious reason for the origination of resistance to change is the lack of reward that can possible help in reinforcing the changes that the employees are able to demonstrate in their behaviour. In absence of rewards, the employees are not able to associate any benefits with the change program and are more likely to resist a change program as it would not have any benefits for them in any possible way (Glassman, 2009). Thus, it is important for the change facilitators to associate rewards with change programs so that they can reinforce the changes that have been successfully implemented and can reduce the resistance that the employees can offer to the change programs.

Relation between power and resistance to change

In an organisational setting, power refers to the possession of authority and influence that a person has over others. Higher a person sits in the hierarchy, higher is the power that he would possess. Business organisations that have complex structures, complicated hierarchies and also have power distributed differently at different levels, are more likely to experience politics and bureaucracy in the organisation (Merchant, n.d.).

Power has been considered to be have a negative effect on the behaviour of people, when assessed in an organisational setup. A number of studies have concluded that higher the power a person holds in an organisation, higher will be the resistance that he or she would offer to the change program unless he or she is going to receive some benefits out of it. When people, who possess power in an organisation, try to convert their power into actions, they are likely to give rise to politics as well as groupism (Virtual Learning Environment , 2017).

One of the prime reasons for powerful people to resist organisational change is the fear that they develop in their minds. People who enjoy a powerful stature in an organisational setup often develop a fear in their minds that an upcoming change would undermine their authority and it would become difficult for them to exercise their control over others. As a result, they are more likely to indulge into politics and have a negative influence on others, which makes it difficult for the managers of an organisation to implement workplace changes successfully. On the other hand, change management theories also suggest that the senior level managers can chose organisational leaders as change facilitators or change agents and convince the people to accept the change through them (Dickson, 2013). But when the organisational leaders are themselves opposing the change, it becomes very difficult for business organisations to promote the change.

In one of the cases, a company experienced a lot of resistance from its managerial level position when a change was being planned. The senior level management of the company planned to implement a system where all the employees would receive instructions about their jobs or tasks through an online portal. The managers thought that such a system would limit their power over the employees, which would have an impact on their status in the organisation. As a result, they demonstrated a lot of resistance to the change and the change program had to be dropped because of the resistance (Strebel, n.d.).

Therefore, it is not wrong to say that power and resistance in an organisational setup are directly proportional to each other i.e. higher the power that a person holds, higher will be the resistance that he or she would offer to a change program if he or she perceives it as a threat to his or her authority or power.


Ethical issues related with power and position

As discussed above, power and the ability to resist a change are directly proportional. In other words, higher the power that a person has, higher and stronger will be the resistance that he can offer to a change program.

The resistance that the powerful people in an organisation offer to change programs raises a number of questions on an ethical ground. Where the scholars and the pioneers in the field of change management have concluded that using leaders of the organisation and powerful people as change agents, it becomes easier for the management to implement changes, if such people are themselves exercising their power in a negative way to introduce politics and groupism in the workplace, without understanding the need and importance of change and to satisfy their own needs and demands, it is completely unethical on their part. Such people are not just disturbing the overall environment of an organisation but are also not fulfilling the responsibility that they have towards the stakeholders in the business because of the power vested to them (Wisdomjobs, n.d.).

From an ethical point of view, it becomes an important duty of all those people who have a higher authority in an organisation, to understand the change management program in depth and figure out whether it is required for the betterment of the organisation on the whole or if it will have certain negative impacts in future, which the higher management could not foresee while designing the program (Jacobs & Keegan, 2016). People with power should base their decisions to resist or to promote a change program on some credible piece of information and not just base their decision to resist a change on the basis of fear that their power would be undermined or they would lose the control that they have over the others.



Management of a change programs in business organisations is not an easy task. It requires a lot of practice and careful administration to successfully implement even a smallest change as even a small change can have a great impact on certain stakeholders in the business. It is important to implement changes in the workplace in order to remain competitive and to increase organisational competencies but it should only be done at the right time. Implementing changes just for the sake of trying what others are doing can prove to be a huge disaster for business organisations as many of them have already lost their entire market shares to their competitors because of their failure to implement changes at the right time.

Further, it is also important for powerful people in an organisation to have a greater understanding of the ethical role that they have to play towards the stakeholders and avoid getting into politics or groupism to satisfy their own need of power or authority. Powerful people should understand the importance of workplace changes and help their organisations in implementing the required changes, rather than spreading negativity in the workplace or resisting the change.



Changingminds. (n.d.). Resistance to Change . Retrieved September 26, 2017, from

Techtarget. (2015, April 30). Change management . Retrieved September 26, 2017, from

Kotter, J. P. (2007, January). Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail . Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Tanner, R. (2017, February 1). Organizational Change: 8 Reasons Why People Resist Change . Retrieved September 26, 2017, from

Adenle, C. (2011, July 26). 12 Reasons Why Employees Resist Change in the Workplace . Retrieved September 26, 2017, from

Rick, T. (2011, May 23). TOP 12 REASONS WHY PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE . Retrieved September 26, 2017, from

Glassman, A. (2009). Reasons for Resistance to Change. Retrieved from

Ford, J. D., Ford, L. W., & D'Amelio3, A. (2008). Resistance to Change: The Rest of the Story . Academy of management Review, 33(2).

Virtual Learning Environment . (2017, September 29). Politics in Organization . Retrieved from

Merchant, P. (n.d.). 5 Sources of Power in Organizations . Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

Wisdomjobs. (n.d.). Principles Of Management And Organisational Behaviour - Resistance To Change. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

Jacobs, G., & Keegan, A. (2016, September 8). Ethical Considerations and Change Recipients’ Reactions: ‘It’s Not All About Me’ . Journal of Business Ethics , 2017(September), 29.

Dickson, J. (2013, October 7). Power and Resistance to change.

Strebel, P. (n.d.). Why Do Employees Resist Change? . Retrieved October 2017, from

Stark, P. B. (2010, January 10). Why Employees Resist Change . Retrieved October 2017, from

Bytestart. (2015, December 23). 7 Common reasons why employees resist change and how to encourage them to embrace new developments . Retrieved October 2017, from

McSweeney, F. K., & Murphy, E. S. (2014). Resistance to change. The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Operant and Classical Conditioning .

BOUQUET, C., & RENAULT, C. (2014, September 7). Uber: Example of resistance to change . Retrieved October 5, 2017, from


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