Resisting Change or Preserving Value: A Case Study in a Health Organization

By James Conklin.

Published by The Organization Collection

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

This paper examines the way in which members of a long-term care facility construct a concept of “resistance” to change to account for the inability of workgroups to integrate new people and new ideas into their practice. After introducing the research questions and qualitative methods (including a blend of ethnography and case study methods), the paper explains how workgroup members have created a knowing and learning dynamic that allows them to cope with the uncertainty of their environment and to complete the numerous tasks that comprise their heavy workload. The paper then shows that the primary focus of this workgroup is seen as the maintenance of the status quo, which leads some observers to label them as “resistant to change.” This resistance, however, is a construct that permits change agents to hold others accountable for their inability to introduce needed reforms and improvements. The paper concludes that local resistance to change can sometimes be motivated by a workgroup’s desire to preserve the value that they currently experience in their work. For example, caregivers might resist the addition of new tasks to their workload in order to preserve the time needed to provide psycho-social support to patients.

Keywords: Organizational Change, Social Learning, Resistance to Change

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp.481-494. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 636.693KB).

Dr. James Conklin

Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Human Sciences, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

James Conklin, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University in Montreal, where he teaches graduate courses in the Human Systems Intervention MA program, and undergraduate courses in group dynamics. He is also an Associate Scientist with the Élisabeth Bruyère Research Institute in Ottawa. His research interests focus on the factors that contribute to effective performance in individuals, groups, and teams, and in the role of knowledge diffusion in planned change. James provides consulting services related to organizational change, knowledge translation, evaluation, adult learning, strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and communications. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Manitoba, the University of Waterloo, York University, and Concordia University.


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