Resistance to Change

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Abbas, Yousif A.
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Human Resource Management
Dublin Business School
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Traditionally, resistance has been cast as adversarial the enemy of change that must be overcome if change is to be successful. While it is apparent that classical management theory viewed resistance in such a manner, recent literature contains some evidence that suggests resistance may indeed be useful and is not to be simply discounted. Present day suggestions and prescriptions for managing resistance have evidently disregarded this research and left little room for utility in resistance. This paper argues that the difficulty of organisational change is often made worse by the inefficient and ineffective management of resistance based on a simple set of assumptions that misunderstand resistance1s essential nature. It is suggested that management may greatly benefit from techniques that carefully manage resistance to change by looking for ways of utilising it rather than overcoming it. This paper also re-examines traditional views on change management, in particular the resistance to change, and suggests alternative views and a practical approach for better managing change. Existing literature on change management contains numerous prerequisites for successful change, but with a predominantly negative view on the issue of resistance to change. There are a small number of authors who have argued for a positive approach to resistance, but have faced a lack of management theories, which support this view. This essay analyses the existing attitudes and theories regarding change management and dealing with resistance to change. It also puts into context the potential value of recognising resistance as a 'defence mechanism' used by employees