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MGT540 Facilitating Change

Published : 09-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10


1.Discuss common reasons why change is resisted and how managers commonly view resistance. 
2. Critically examine the key theoretical concepts of resistance considered in this subject and how they are linked to the two key theoretical ontologies used in this subject. 
3. Critically examine the relationship between power and resistance, and the ethical issues that these raise in relation to the managerial and resistant positions. 
4. Critically discuss the implications of power and resistance for the role of the change agent in ethically managing change, in both the dialogical and problem-centric approaches to change management.


The present day business world is complex and due to globalisation, business organisations have become vulnerable to external and internal environmental factors that can undergo changes within a very short span of time. External environment, such as economic factors, environmental factors, political factors, governmental factors, etc. can vary in real time, which makes it hard for business organisations to keep up with the changing market trends. The competition in the market has achieved such heights that business organisations are required to introduce changes in their work operations in real time. Bringing about changes in organisations sounds easier than done. Management of change is considered to be one of the toughest actions that business organisations have to carry out and is also sometimes considered to be a necessary evil. Change is considered to be the only constant thing but its human tendency to resist change that hinders their day-to-day life or can bring them out of their comfort zones.

Resistance to change

Resistance to change is one the key factors that can cause a change management program to fail. Some common reasons for the failure of change management programs are discussed below:

Fear of the unknown à a prime reasons because of which most change management programs fail is the fear of the unknown that the employees develop in their minds. When a change management program is in its planning stage, lack of proper communication can occur and can give rise to various rumours related to the change program. Such rumours are detrimental to the success of the change program and can ultimately produce fear in the minds of the people regarding the things that they don’t know off yet and employees will only accept a change if they feel that they are aware about it and where it would lead them. As a result, a resistance to the change program is developed due to the fear of the unknown (Rick, 2011).

Connected to the old way à another reason because of which change management programs experience a lot of resistance from the stakeholders is the tendency to stick to old working practices. It is human tendency to stick to a permanent working style or to resist any kind of change that can bring them out of their comfort zones. Due to this tendency, humans have a tendency to stick to older working practices and start resisting changes when they feel that something new will take place. A perfect example is the fight between traditional taxis and companies like Uber and OLA. When companies like Uber and OLA started changing the system that governed the working operations of taxis, traditional taxis ended up sticking to their old working ways. The consequences were that the traditional taxis lost their market share due to the resistance to change that they had shown (Bouquet and Renault, 2014).

Lack of competencies à another reasons that can normally cause resistance to a change management program is the lack of competencies in business organisations. Sometimes, human resources of business organisations feel that they don’t have the competencies that will be required to successfully adopt the changes being introduced. Thus, in the lack of required competencies, a change program can experience resistance to change (Gill, 2002). An example of this would be the 2010 case that shook Toyota Motor Corp. Due to lack of competencies, the Japanese unit was not even able to identify that something was going wrong and a change was required whereas the US unit had already foreseen the disaster.

Not being consulted à the most common and the most talked about reason that can cause resistance to change is when the stakeholders feel that they were not consulted before the implementation of the change program or were not communicated the change program (Grama and Todericiu, 2016).

In common, the managers of business organisations have a habit of underestimating resistance to change. They consider it to be a normal thing and ignore it because they are of the view that it is the tendency of all human beings but in every case, resistance to change is a huge concern for every organisation and all managers should try to deal with it accordingly.  

Theoretical ontologies

Change management is not a new subject. The subject of managing change was discovered long back but the need at which the organisations are required to change has increased exponentially. Some famous founders of the subjects, such as John P. Kotter, Kurt Lewin, etc. have suggested theories that can help business organisations in dealing with resistance to change and are still effective today. John P. Kotter, one of the fathers of the subject suggested five methods that can be used to manage resistance. These methods are discussed below:

  • Education – this method involved communication the changes along with their reasons when the employees lack proper information about the change. An advantage of this method is that if a person is persuaded, he or she will definitely help in facilitating the change further.
  • Participation – this method suggests involving the resisters right from the very beginning into the change management program when the change initiators lack the required information to design the change. An advantage of this method is that the people become more committed towards the change program and help in achieving success.
  • Facilitation – this method involved provision of skills and training when the employees lack the competency to cope up with the change or have a fear that they won’t be able to make the necessary adjustments for coping up with the change. Facilitation method is so effective that it can work even when everything else fails (Managing change to reduce resistance, 2005).
  • Negotiation – in this method, the management can offer incentives to the employees so that they can be motivated to except the change. This method is effective when people have a tendency to quit in between and the power to resist. A major advantage of this method is that it is the easiest way to deal with minor resistance.
  • Coercion – this is the final stage where an organisation can threaten the employees with their jobs or promotion opportunities if they fail to accept the change altogether (Kotter and Schlesinger, n.d.). This method becomes important when the company has to immediately put an end to all resistances that are there in the workplace.

Another theory, known as the Social constructionism theory or the social construction of reality, also helps in dealing with resistance to change by ensuring the development of understanding between those parts of the world that are sharing the same assumptions about reality. The theory has been found to be very effective in places where there are new reforms taking place or there are some practices or behaviour patterns that are being planned to undergo a change. Even if there are rapid changes taking place, the theory of social constructivism can be very beneficial as it would help the management of business organisations in accepting the changes that are already being accepted and plan for the next set of changes that it needs to introduce (Burkitt, Burr and Gergen, 1996).

Power and resistance to change

Power, in simple words, can be defined as the decision making ability of a person in an organisation. More power a person has; more is his or her say in the decision making system. A major issue that the business organisations face while trying to implement a change in the workplace is the resistance to change due to power.

In an organisation, power can be a major reason for resistance to change. In general, power in an organisation can be of two types and people with these two types of power can be very difficult to convince. The reasons that motivate powerful people to resist organisational changes are discussed below:

People with physical power in an organisation are those who are physically intimidating, have a strong voice, are assertive or are difficult to deal with. Such people exist in every company and can be found at all hierarchical levels in an organisation. Such people are highly assertive and cannot be easily convinced (Ga?ko-Karwowska, 2015).

Positional power is defined as the power that the employees achieve after being associated with their companies. Positional power can be a cause of resistance to change because people spend years to climb up the corporate ladder and achieve higher degrees of power in the company. Sometimes, a change in the organisation can undermine their authority or can bring changes to their powers. As a result, people with position power can end up resisting the change program.

On the other hand, people with power in an organisation crave attention and expect the management to consult them whenever there is an important decision being planned to be taken in the organisation. If such people are not consulted or are not made a part of the change program, the management might end up hurting their egos and in turn, employees with power in the organisation might end up resisting the change program just because they have the power to do so. In general, it is observed that higher the power a person has, higher are the chances that he or she will try to resist the change management program in case something in the change program is not something that could benefit them or can even cause a major damage to their power in the organisation.

Further, existence of politics or bureaucracy in the workplace can worsen the situation as powerful group of people might have their interests that are not aligned with the change program. As a result, the situation worsens and the change management program can fail altogether.

Power, resistance to change and ethical issues

Business organisations are facing tough situations in the market and is it is becoming very difficult for the organisations to sustain the market competition. In such conditions they are forced to introduce changes in the workplace and they expect that the stakeholders help them in facilitating the change program. On the other hand, people with power in an organisation offer resistance to change programs just because of their own motives, which is unethical on their part and is completely unethical towards their companies.

People with power in an organisation should definitely think and act ethically and should try their best to get involved in the change management program and help the organisation in improving the program. It also becomes their ethical responsibility to help the management in facilitating the change as power is not just about making decisions or being respected but is also about fulfilling responsibilities towards the company, seniors as well as the junior employees.

Implications of power and resistance for change agents

A person from within the organisation or from outside the organisation, who is appointed to assist the management is transforming it from its old practices to new practices in order to become more effective is known as a change agent. Change agents definitely have power in the organisation and should possible be those people who have a way with the employees and can convince them to accept the change in a positive manner. It becomes their ethical duty to help the management in facilitating the change as they have been selected to do so.

The method or the approach that the change agents chose to facilitate the change in the organisation can either be dialogic or problem centric but their ethical duties and the intent remains the same. Even though the steps might differ in the two approached, both of them requires the change agent to make the employees aware about the change, prepare them to embrace it, help them with their doubts, identifying the key areas of resistance to change and figuring out ways to deal with them. Therefore, even though the change agents might have a great deal of power in the organisation, it becomes their moral and ethical duty towards the management that they should help it in facilitating the desired change in order to make the organisation more effective.


Bouquet, C., & Renault, C. (2014). Taxis vs Uber: A Perfect Example of Resistance to Change. International Business Times UK. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Burkitt, I., Burr, V., & Gergen, K. (1996). An Introduction to Social Constructionism. The British Journal Of Sociology, 47(4), 718.

Ga?ko-Karwowska, M. (2015). Action Into Change, Power Into Resistance. Opuscula Sociologica, 71-79.

Gill, R. (2002). Change management--or change leadership?. Journal Of Change Management, 3(4), 307-318.

Grama, B., & Todericiu, R. (2016). Change, Resistance to Change and Organizational Cynicism. Studies In Business And Economics, 11(3).

Kotter, J., & Schlesinger, L. Choosing strategies for change (1st ed.). Retrieved from

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