Resistance to change

Published on January 30, 2022   8 min
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Hello, I'm Richard Dunford, Professor of Management in the UNSW Business School at UNSW, Sydney. Today, I'm going to talk to you on the topic of 'Resistance to Change". One of the most emotionally charged areas associated with organizational change is that of resistance to change or perhaps more accurately the description of someone or some group as resistant to change. This term is really used as a neutral description. It's more likely an accusation and certainly not intended as a compliment. Let's look more closely at the phenomenon of resistance to change. It's very common
to hear resistance to change explained with the comment that people dislike change, that is, that dislike of change is something innate in human nature. However on close examination it's not too difficult to find exceptions. For example people are also inclined to make decisions based on the desire to try new things whether it be a new job, developing new skills, living in a different suburb or city or country, trying a new holiday destination, changing to a new look such as a hair cut and clothing etc. The idea that resisting change is innate is at least questionable. People can find lack of change tedious and fear getting stuck in a rut. American musician John Cage once said, "I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." As a manager of organizational change it's unlikely to be very helpful to dismiss resistance to change on the grounds that people are just like that. A more sophisticated nuanced understanding of what can produce resistance is valuable because it can help managers produce appropriate actions to prevent, diminish and in some instances even remove resistance in regard to specific change initiatives. I'm going to now talk briefly