Is Obedience, Not Resistance, the Real Organizational Change Killer?

By Ron Koller, Rick Fenwick and Rick Fenwick, Jr..

Published by Change Management: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In peer-reviewed organizational change literature, most scholars have examined resistance to change (R2C) and commitment to change (C2C) as separate, distinct constructs. Industry research often cites employee R2C as one of the top reasons for organizational change initiative failure. Industry and scholarly researchers, alike, have studied many facets of R2C, often making the value judgment that R2C is negative or an inhibitor of successful organizational change. Most practitioners, and a handful of scholarly theorists, view R2C and C2C as opposite ends of the same spectrum. This group also views reactions to organizational change in a value frame. The purpose of this paper is to examine the behavioral reactions to change through a value free lens. Building upon the work of several different scholars, this theoretical paper presents a new framework that includes R2C and C2C types of behaviors, but from a non-evaluative point of view.

Keywords: Organizational Change, Resistance to Change, Commitment to Change, Obedience

Change Management: An International Journal, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp.25-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 339.437KB).

Ron Koller

Doctoral Candidate, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Capella University, Detroit, MI, USA

Ron is a doctoral student at Capella University. He co-authored Whole-Scale Change and the Whole-Scale Change Toolkit (Berrett-Koehler, 2000). Ron worked for Kathie Dannemiller, learning first hand accounts of the work of Kurt Lewin and Ron Lippitt. He has spent the last 3 years bridging the scholar-practitioner divide in organizational change.

Dr. Rick Fenwick

Professor, I-O Psychology, Capella University, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Rick has mentored I-O Psychology and Leadership doctoral dissertation students at Capella University and the University of Phoenix. He is also a partner at Fenwick Koller Associates providing organization development consulting focusing on implementing change. Rick has a Ph. D. in Organizational and Social Psychology from the Union Institute.

Rick Fenwick, Jr.

Student, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Capella University, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Rick Fenwick Jr. is a doctoral learner at Capella University. His specialization area is change management in union environments. Rick has helped to pioneer a model of team-based culture change at General Motors. He is also a consultant with Fenwick Koller Associates.