Sei sulla pagina 1di 10

Obstacles to effective organizational change:

the underlying reasons

Bruce G. Hoag
Performance Advantage Ltd, Ely, UK
Hans V. Ritschard
RAF Lakenheath, nr Brandon, UK
Cary L. Cooper
Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of
Science and Technology (UMIST), Manchester, UK

Keywords Perhaps surprisingly, our research has


Organizational change, Introduction shown that the opposite is true: staff often
Resistance, Costs, Work,
Legislation, Employees Constant change has permeated completely see the need for change and are anxious to
and indiscriminately every aspect of life and just do it, but their managers seem to be
Abstract work. Its pace is ever increasing; and far unwilling or incapable of exercising the
Our world abounds with constant,
from embracing change, many managers leadership required (Kotter and Schlesinger,
relentless change to the extent
that most people no longer have have had enough, and some would like it to 1979; Manganelli and Klein, 1994). This article
an open mind about it. stop (Kanter, 1995; Chia, 1999). On the other will consider some of the popular reasons
Unequivocally, they want it to hand, there are those who believe that this managers give for why organizations resist
stop. Many organizations have
upheaval has benefited them through change and suggest some new underlying
initiated change programs which
have failed. Often, such failures improvements in technology (Galbraith, obstacles.
are blamed on staff or on external 1967) for example, and they anticipate eagerly
constraints, such as cost, the opportunities that further change will
workload, and legislation. In this
Perspectives on obstacles
afford them in developing better products The belief is held by some that obstacles to
study, more than 500 responses
were obtained from participants and services and increasing their markets change are situational and too numerous to
who completed the statement: (Koopman, 1991). Some will concede only that consider (Zaltman and Duncan, 1977; Kotter,
``The three biggest obstacles to they must change to survive, and still others 1995); however, this seems to be more myth
bringing about effective change in
pretend that recent changes are just a blip in than reality. Generally, the literature we
my organization are . . .'' A total of
89 per cent of these responses an otherwise predictable continuum.
reviewed was divided into two categories:
pointed to factors within the However, most recognize that some kind of
1 External influences ± factors which
organization itself. change is necessary in their organizations
managers believed were outside of their
and have made various attempts to
control.
accommodate these pressures.
2 Who should be blamed when change
Many see change as a threat because the
initiatives failed.
outcome is less certain than leaving things as
they are (Fox-Wolfgramm et al., 1998; Greve,
External factors
1998). This dichotomy of attitudes cuts across
There is a category of factors which
The views expressed in this hierarchical boundaries in unexpected ways.
comprises a popular mythology. We call this
article are those of the One would anticipate that pro-active, open-
authors and do not folklore the rumor mill ± a collection of
minded managers would embrace change
necessarily reflect the implied beliefs which has no empirical
willingly, as additional opportunities to
official policy or position of support. The rumor mill has suggested that
the Air Force, the make their organizations grow, to generate
Department of Defense or more sales and deliver more value to the three main obstacles to change are cost,
the US Government. customers (Katz and Kahn, 1978; Freiberg workload (Zaltman and Duncan, 1977), and
and Freiberg, 1997). Equally, one would legislation (Meyer, 1979).
expect employees to do all they could to Some managers believe that their
preserve the status quo in order to protect organizations cannot change because too
their turf, social position, and livelihood many resources have been committed
(Klein, 1970; Maslow, 1970; Watson, 1970; already to ``sunk costs'' ± monies spent
Zaltman and Duncan, 1977; Kanter, 1995; Cox, tooling up to deliver their existing products
1997), and to change only when they believed or services. Changing direction, in their
it was in their interest to do so (Manganelli opinion, could jeopardize their position,
Leadership & Organization
Development Journal and Klein, 1994). especially if things go wrong (Tichy, 1983).
23/1 [2002] 6±15
# MCB UP Limited The research register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
[ISSN 0143-7739]
[DOI 10.1108/01437730210414526] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregisters http://www.emeraldinsight.com/0143-7739.htm

[6]
Bruce G. Hoag, Other costs may take the form of ``managerial ``sabotage, absenteeism, disobedience, and
Hans V. Ritschard and time'' (Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979). shirking.'' However, none of these studies
Cary L. Cooper
Obstacles to effective Some see change programs as one more attempts to explain why staff had resorted to
organizational change: thing to do in a day, week, or month when such measures; only that they were to blame
the underlying reasons there is already an insufficient number of for doing so.
Leadership & Organization hours to do what is deemed to be important In spite of the challenges just mentioned,
Development Journal
23/1 [2002] 6±15 (Kanter, 1995). This belief is understandable all organizations change or adapt to some
given the complexity associated with degree, often positively, during their
meaningful and effective change, but every lifetimes. For example, staff turnover alone
day, managers choose to change some things, changes an organization: it changes when
but not others. The issue, therefore, is not one person is hired or another leaves (Fayol,
lack of time, but lack of will. 1987). In addition, changes occur as the result
Others believe that the scope for change in of the introduction of new products or
their organizations is limited by government services, and the deletion of old ones.
legislation (Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979; This is not to say that external factors do
Jackson, 1999), but these constraints have not have an impact; they do. Equally, some
been around since the beginning of politics staff do resist change; but the blame for
itself. While some might argue that this has unsuccessful organizational change must lie
hindered organizational change, there is with those who are responsible for
little evidence to support this. implementing it, not with other things or
Some believe that other external factors other people. Indeed, if factors such as
obstruct organizational change. For example, institutional change, government
managers who experienced ``institutional regulations, market conditions, and
change,'' such as that which occurred during disgruntled employees are responsible for
and after the collapse of the former preventing positive change, then it means
communist regimes of eastern Europe, that managers are nothing more than
reportedly found it difficult to identify hostages to fortune. If, however, it is accepted
and embrace the new value systems that change can afford opportunities through
(Newman, 2000). which the adept manager can take advantage,
Market conditions have been cited as a then it will be recognized that, while these
barrier to change (Sachwald, 1998), but it is factors have influence, fundamentally they
more likely that they have forced are not obstacles.
organizations to change rather than actually In this article, an obstacle is a factor which
preventing it. prevents the implementation of positive
Some organizations might resist change change in organizations. In view of this
because of an in-born desire to control definition, it is easy to understand why the
events, reduce uncertainty and preserve the examples discussed above really are not
status quo (Watson, 1970; Katz and Kahn, obstacles.
1978; Tichy, 1983; Carr et al., 1996). Closely The primary purpose of our study was to
associated with this are ``ideologies'' which determine what obstacles impeded positive
``represent solutions to past problems'' change in organizations. In it, we took the
(Newman, 2000). view of human resources professionals ±
those people who often are tasked with the
Staff change program implementation, but who
A second category of obstacles discussed in receive much of the criticism when things go
the literature is staff. The collective message wrong.
seems to be that if factors outside of the
organization cannot be blamed for the failure
of change initiatives, then it must be the fault
Methodology
of the employees (Piderit, 2000). This
conclusion is remarkable considering the The study primarily was exploratory and no
great lengths to which most organizations a priori hypotheses were identified.
have gone to publicize the mantra that people However, there was a general suspicion that
are its greatest resource (Meyer, 1979). the rumor mill had identified incorrectly the
Koopman (1991) implies that all underlying obstacles. Over a period of
organizations have ``resistors'' ± people ``who several months, 146 human resources
will resist any change at all costs.'' Larsson professionals in the UK ranging in
and Finkelstein (1999) report that staff responsibility from students to human
exercised active and passive resistance in resources directors, to a few pensioners, were
response to merger and acquisition activity surveyed. Each participant was asked to use
by speaking out or resigning, through a worksheet to record the three biggest
[7]
Bruce G. Hoag, obstacles to effective change in his or her . culture; and
Hans V. Ritschard and organization, and the reasons for those . other.
Cary L. Cooper
Obstacles to effective obstacles if the respondent knew them. The
The following guidelines were used:
organizational change: questions were entirely open, and no
the underlying reasons 1 Cost ± referred to insufficient financial
suggestions were offered.
Leadership & Organization resources.
The worksheets were handed out by the
Development Journal 2 Workload ± concerned the volume of
23/1 [2002] 6±15 primary author prior to a presentation he
work.
gave as a guest speaker to various groups of
3 Legislation ± referred to laws, legal
Chartered Institute of Personnel and
mandates, or regulations.
Development and Institute of Management
4 Leadership ± included vision, planning,
members. None of the respondents knew in
strategy, direction, purpose, or decision
advance that the worksheets would be
making.
distributed, and all worksheets were
5 Management ± referred to senior
collected before the presentations began. The
managers, and the organization's
surveys were administered in an entirely
structures or systems.
anonymous fashion, and no minimum
6 Culture ± referred to middle or junior
number was sought. Respondents were
managers', or employee perceptions and
offered copies of the research findings in
training or development deficiencies.
exchange for their participation.
7 Other ± any statements that did not fit in
No attempt was made to qualify
the above six categories.
participants in any way, so no figures are
available regarding, for example, their A score of seven was given when the
ages or gender. responses matched exactly or included the
There were a number of anomalies in the category word; a score of six was assigned to
collection of the data. Three participants responses which made the rater think
changed the wording of the question, immediately of the category, but did not
disqualifying their responses from the include the category word; a score of five was
survey. One admitted to being self-employed, assigned when the rater felt that the response
and since the question was about ``my could have been placed into more than one
organization,'' those data also were omitted. category. In these cases, the best category
A fifth respondent simply indicated that his/ was chosen for the rating. The remaining
her work was as a part-time careers advisor, responses were rated one to four depending
and commented, ``I don't think I can provide upon the strength of feeling of the rater that
any useful answers.'' Although a few an item should be included in a particular
participants were retired, it was not clear category. Only one category was permitted
who they were, and so their responses were for each response. On those occasions when
included in our sample. none of the six categories seemed
Some participants listed only one or two appropriate, the ``other'' column was ticked,
obstacles; others provided several. On a and the rater was instructed to use one or two
number of occasions, obstacles for some were words to describe a suitable category.
reasons for others. Consequently, each Each category was weighted equally as a
obstacle and each reason had to be evaluated nominal variable (n = 7). A low interrater
on its own merits to determine whether an reliability was obtained using the method
obstacle or a reason was being reported. described above, and low reliabilities
Where reasons did not clarify the obstacle, but followed two further pilot evaluations with
suggested a new one, the reason was counted training. These low interrater reliabilities
as an obstacle. A few responses were illegible. seemed to derive from the apparently
As a result, 503 statements were collected. overlapping categories that initially were
A pilot test was conducted on 20 of the chosen. As a result, we had to admit that our
statements to determine whether interrater initial expectations may have been too
reliability could be established in rating the ambitious. The data were then re-rated again
responses. The primary author trained the by both the primary and secondary authors
secondary author, and both then performed a using only four categories defined as cost,
pilot evaluation. The evaluations were based workload, and legislation. The remaining
on a seven-point Likert scale according to the category, defined as ``other,'' was made to
following categories: include all other responses which could not
. cost; be placed confidently into the first three
. workload; categories. By using these four categories,
. legislation; a high interrater reliability coefficient of
. leadership; 0.81 on all 503 statements was obtained
. management; (Nunnally and Bernstein, 1994).
[8]
Bruce G. Hoag, management influenced the organization's
Hans V. Ritschard and Discussion culture, whether positively or negatively.
Cary L. Cooper
Obstacles to effective The manner in which the sample was collected
organizational change: was one of convenience (Fink, 1998). Leaders or managers?
the underlying reasons There is no doubt that organizational
Consequently, some might argue that since
Leadership & Organization participants were not selected randomly, this leadership is conceived and executed by
Development Journal
23/1 [2002] 6±15 study contains bias and therefore threatens senior managers. Although it is possible that,
internal validity (Campbell and Stanley, 1963). in the past, the roles of leader and manager
This charge, however, is unwarranted since no were performed by different people,
selection took place at all. Those in attendance clearly this artificial distinction is
simply were given the opportunity to take part. counterproductive in modern organizations.
To our knowledge, no one refused, and no One person can and often does fulfill both
suggestion was made implicitly or explicitly roles. In fact, for organizational change to be
that non-participation was unacceptable. effective, these roles must be seamless, a
Others might argue that since no specific theme which was supported by our study.
While senior managers are expected to be
statistics were noted regarding the sex, age,
effective both as leaders and managers, it is,
levels of responsibility of the participants, or
perhaps, easier to understand these roles if
size of the organizations represented that our
we discuss them separately.
results were skewed in some way. However,
In this study, respondents described five
it must be noted that despite the absence of
characteristics of poor leaders and four
this information, the words used by the
characteristics of weak managers which they
respondents to describe obstacles to
felt were obstacles to effective organizational
organizational change were remarkably
change. For clarity, we have used italics
similar, suggesting that these factors were
within quotation marks to identify actual
observable by staff irrespective of those
quotes from our data.
delimiters.
External validity pertains to Leadership
generalizability. Since the literature seems to No vision
have avoided staff perceptions in large Leadership was seen to be poor when there
measure, and our study is based on data was no vision for the future. Many
collected from staff employed by a broad statements referred to the ``lack of goals,
spectrum of organizations, we assert that our plans or strategies.'' Closely related to this
findings are generalizable. was the apparent focus on short-term
A key word analysis was used to identify challenges. Other statements conveyed the
obstacles to effective organizational change. sense that senior executives were unable to
The rumor mill, which asserted that cost, agree or to prioritize issues for change,
workload and legislation were significant, suffering from the proverbial analysis
was wrong, predicting only 11 per cent of the paralysis. Uncertainty precluded action, and
empirical variance (Table I). However, no one seemed to be willing to take
management and organizational culture, ownership for any decisions regarding
which accounted for nearly 89 per cent of the change, possibly because no one wanted to be
variance, emerged as the two most responsible for failure.
significant obstacles to organizational It was implied that staff wanted to know
change (Table II). Communication was seen where their organization was headed, and
as the channel through which the what to expect along the way. Managers who
could not or would not provide those
Table I signposts were seen to be weak, failing to
Examined H1 exercise leadership. Staff expected executives
to decide where they wanted the organization
Management/culture/
to go, to create a vision of the future, to
Rumor mill communication/miscellaneous
n (%) n (%) communicate it to the staff, and to work
towards it, recognizing from the beginning
56 11.1 447 88.9 that the outcome could not be known fully in
advance.
Table II No support
Summary of underlying obstacles Leadership was seen to be poor when
Communication/ managers were unable to garner the support
Management Culture Rumor miscellaneous Total of those concerned. Many responses
conveyed the idea that the staff were left to
209 179 56 59 503 interpret executive missives because
[9]
Bruce G. Hoag, managers could not articulate the need for or sample to be significant obstacles to effective
Hans V. Ritschard and the methods of change effectively. In organizational change (Kotter, 1995).
Cary L. Cooper
Obstacles to effective addition, there seemed to be a less than 1 Pot-pourri. There was the sense that
organizational change: wholehearted commitment to change by managers dealt with a pot-pourri of
the underlying reasons senior managers. This may have hindered seemingly unrelated challenges. This was
Leadership & Organization their ability to communicate clearly the reflected by statements such as
Development Journal
23/1 [2002] 6±15 benefits they expected. ``seasonality of demand, lack of technology,
recruitment and space,'' and the tactic used
Obstructive senior team
to cope with these challenges was
Poor leadership was cited as an obstacle
described as ``firefighting.''
when the senior executives themselves
2 Internal systems. The organization's
obstructed change (Cunniff, 1993). Several
internal systems were reported to prevent
references were made to the ``board,
change initiatives from succeeding.
partners,'' or ``key individuals.'' The sense
Historically, organizations have sought to
was that managers were more interested in
preserve themselves by controlling
themselves than in the organization. In
everything: risk (Isenson, 1968), markets
addition, executives were seen to disagree
(Goetz, 1968), subordinate activities
about what to do or what was important.
(Sayles, 1977), time (Mintzberg, 1973),
Responses such as ``fragmented views between
performance management, and budgeting
directors as to the priorities'' and lack of
(Carroll et al., 1977) to name a few. The
`agreement of senior managers as to the best
hierarchy in traditional organizations
solution/way forward' illustrate this.
was structured deliberately so that
Not yet supervisors could control human
Some respondents implied that senior behavior at every level (Gulick, 1937).
managers had recognized the necessity of The principle of organizational control
change, but had adopted a not yet policy. was designed to ensure that everything
Several statements referred to the ``amount'' remained the same, an ideal diametrically
or ``pace'' of change. One respondent said that opposed to change. When change
his organization needed to ``secure the present programs were introduced, the internal
situation'' before embarking on any new organizational systems often were left
change initiatives. This perspective reflected intact, creating a context within which
the view that any existing pressures to lasting change was untenable.
change were temporary aberrations, and that Metaphorically, this resembled bungee-
soon everything would get back to normal. In jumping, in which the organization was
fact, it appeared that many managers had not propelled in one direction until the cord
understood why the current changes were so was extended fully, whereupon it lurched
intense or so radical, or what they would do if back from the brink, finishing its journey
normality failed to materialize. within its own predetermined boundaries.
No reason to change Respondents blamed failed attempts to
Many respondents reported that their change their organizations on internal
managers saw no reason to change, taking systems such as ``functional (technical)
the view that what worked in the past would departments, reward systems [that]
continue to work in the future. These promote the short term, administration,
managers seemed to assume that the context bureaucracy, hierarchy and red tape.'' In
in which the status quo was successful had the face of such control, some remarked,
not and would not change. The question, ``why bother?'' Others implied that a ``lack
``why change?'' was echoed by several of sustainability'' and a tendency to drift
respondents. This was seen as an absence of back to ``old ways'' made change programs
leadership by subordinates who believed that a waste of time. Another respondent
far from preserving the organization, expressed his cynicism by saying that
maintaining the ``status quo'' actually ``changes haven't worked before.''
threatened it. One respondent said: ``Old 3 Victim mindset. Managers claimed they
school, dislike[s] new ideas from staff. They could not do anything differently because
know best.'' This was not a novel lament of external factors. The irrationality of
among the responses. In fact, Taylor (1919) this view was discussed earlier. One
said as much 90 years ago. respondent admitted that his organization
failed to ``work with external influences.''
Management Another blamed the ``competitive nature''
The were four characteristics of weak of the environment as an obstacle, and a
managers which were seen by many in our third respondent said that staff believed
[ 10 ]
Bruce G. Hoag, that they would ``always be victims of change left respondents feeling anxious
Hans V. Ritschard and change.'' about their position in the organization
Cary L. Cooper
Obstacles to effective 4 Status quo. A common theme was that and, therefore, raised concerns about
organizational change: managers wanted the benefits of their livelihood. For some this may have
the underlying reasons implementing change programs, but they meant that future plans had to be
Leadership & Organization wanted to keep doing things the ``way they suspended, either temporarily or
Development Journal
23/1 [2002] 6±15 had always done them.'' One respondent permanently. Others may have felt
said, ``We've done the downsizing and the stymied, unsure of what to do next
right sizing, and we're trying to do all the (Kanter, 1995).
work we used to do when everybody else Although managers may acknowledge
was there.'' readily that better communication would
reduce uncertainty, some have argued
Culture that confidentiality prevents them from
There is no agreement on the precise providing as much information as they
definition of culture (Wilkins, 1983; Ashforth, would like. Some people can ``tolerate''
1985; Cooke and Rousseau, 1988). Some greater ``ambiguity and uncertainty'' than
understand it as ``shared beliefs and others (Duncan, 1972); but, in our sample,
assumptions'' (Ashforth, 1985; Nahavandi managers who could not or would not
and Malekzadeh, 1988). Schein (1987) says provide answers to questions such as,
that these beliefs and assumptions are ``What does it mean to me?'' had to face
learned ``unconsciously'' through ``group employees who felt that change was
experience'' and ``define in a basic ``done'' to them without any
`taken-for-granted' fashion an organization's ``consultation.''
view of itself and its environment.'' When change programs impact on staff
Pfeffer (1981) says that: personally, confidentiality can be seen as
[i]nstitutionalization . . . bind[s] participants a convenient excuse rather than a bona
together with a common set of fide reason for not ``keeping them in the
understandings about the organizational way
picture.'' It is imperative that managers
of doing things [and] provides each person
involve and communicate regularly with
with common beliefs . . .
the staff who are expected to implement
Hofstede et al. (1990) says that culture is: the change initiatives, since the
the collective mental programming of the managers, and not the staff, will be held
people in an environment . . . conditioned by accountable for its success (Koopman,
the same education and life experiences
1991; Manganelli and Klein, 1994). Full and
(Hofstede, 1995).
open communication engenders trust and
In this article, culture is defined as the cooperation; providing limited
emotional environment shared by members information by hiding behind
of the organization. It reflects how staff feel confidentiality issues breeds fear, anxiety,
about themselves, about the people for whom and mistrust. There is no middle ground.
and with whom they work, and about their Managers often are confronted by
jobs. These feelings are acquired through: uncooperative staff whose ``underlying
shared perceptions of daily practices [which] beliefs values, and norms'' are embodied
are the core of an organization's culture[,] in their organizational culture (Tichy,
shape[d by] the values of founders and key 1983). Change programs may ask
leaders[, and] learned through socialization at
employees to change what is important to
the workplace (Hofstede et al., 1990).
them. For example, in recent years, the
Therefore, managerial behaviors exemplify protestant work ethic (Weber, 1958) has
acceptable and unacceptable staff behaviors. given way to the so-called now generation.
Some researchers (see Ashforth, 1985; Delayed reward has been replaced by
Rousseau, 1988) have described differences instant gratification. Change programs
between climate and culture. However, since which impose criteria dependent upon
our respondents made no such distinction, delayed reward are bound to be resisted
neither do we. by those for whom instant gratification
As an underlying obstacle, culture was has become the norm.
described from four perspectives: Managers who failed to address
1 Uncertainty. Staff felt threatened by the concerns such as ``I may not have a job in
prospect of change itself. All change, the new set up'' encountered staff who had
whether ``positive'' or ``rational'' creates become suspicious of all organizational
``emotional turmoil'' for those concerned motives, and who had lost faith in the
(Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979). management as a whole.
Uncertainty regarding the outcomes of Although it may be difficult to
[ 11 ]
Bruce G. Hoag, communicate strategies for change in a knowledge, skill'' or ``training,'' or some
Hans V. Ritschard and climate where there is a dearth of effective deficiency in their abilities were cited as
Cary L. Cooper
Obstacles to effective and ``relevant'' change models, the failure obstacles. This view is shared by Zaltman
organizational change: to do so will contribute to the perception and Duncan (1977), who found that:
the underlying reasons that, despite all the hoopla surrounding the more personnel perceive that there is a
Leadership & Organization such programs, everything eventually need for their department to change to meet
Development Journal the increased demands of society, and so on,
23/1 [2002] 6±15 will get back to normal (Newman, 2000).
2 Turf protection. Some respondents the less do they perceive that their
reported that there was a tendency for department is really able to deal with
change.
staff to ``cling to the status quo.''
It is possible that staff concerns such as
Statements such as ``tradition'' and ``turf
``fear of going wrong'' or ``anxiety about
protection'' were typical. Some
their position in the structure'' were
respondents indicated that staff often
resisted change, but this seemed to have interpreted as veiled indicators of this
more to do with living with a known devil perception. Staff who doubt their ``future
(Watson, 1970), than risking an competence'' might resist change if they
experiment with a new one, especially believed that they could not learn the
where information regarding the impact new skills required to perform in the
on them was sparse. new organization (Tichy, 1983; Kanter,
Closely related to this was the notion 1995).
that admitting that change was needed 4 Internal politics. Statements such as
was tantamount to saying that the old ``eÂlitism, and inter-departmental rivalry''
ways were wrong, and that someone was suggested that internal politics was an
to blame for taking the organization down obstacle to change. People who needed
that road. Responses such as power or believed that their status would
``unwillingness to make and learn from be diminished (Cox, 1997; Zaltman and
mistakes'' were indicative of this Duncan, 1977) or who depended on others
perception. for emotional or political security often
3 Can't cope. There was a perception that resisted change as well (Tichy, 1983). This
the staff were unable in some way to cope is an important consideration because it
with a change initiative. ``Lack of demonstrates that ``[m]ajor structural

Table III
Summary of the literature
Obstacles Related literature
Management Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), Cunniff (1993), Greenwood et al. (1994),
Kotter (1995), Newman (2000)
Lack of leadership Manganelli and Klein (1994), Beer et al. (1995), Kanter (1995), Freiberg and
Freiberg (1997)
Hierarchy, bureaucracy and
red tape Bartlett and Ghoshal (1994), Jackson (1999)
Systems, procedures and Zaltman and Duncan (1977), Shepard (1995), Cox (1997), Johnson (1998),
administration; always done Labianca et al. (2000)
it this way
Culture Zaltman and Duncan (1977), Tichy (1983), Wilkins (1983), Hofstede et al.
(1990), Greenwood et al. (1994), Cox (1995), Hofstede (1995),
Langan-Fox and Tan (1997)
People ± doubts about future Pettigrew (1975), Koopman (1991), Carr et al. (1996), Begley (1998),
competence or place in new Larsson and Finkelstein (1999), Pideret (2000), Wanberg and Banas (2000)
set up; internal politics;
cannot cope
Fear and uncertainty Maslow (1970), Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), Tichy (1983), Fox-Wolfgramm
et al. (1998), Greve (1998), Johnson (1998)
Reluctance or resistance, Watson (1970; 1982), Kanter (1995), Dean et al. (1998)
change done to them
Tradition, status quo Klein (1970), Katz and Kahn (1978), Pfeffer (1981), Cox (1997)
Poor communication Zaltman and Duncan (1977), Koopman (1991), Manganelli and Klein (1994),
Kanter (1995), Wanberg and Banas (2000)
Rumor mill Zaltman and Duncan (1977), Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), Tichy (1983),
Kanter (1995), Jackson (1999)

[ 12 ]
Bruce G. Hoag, changes have political consequences'' Bartlett, C.A. and Ghoshal, S. (1994), ``Changing
Hans V. Ritschard and (Pettigrew, 1975). the role of top management: beyond strategy
Cary L. Cooper to purpose'', Harvard Business Review,
Obstacles to effective
organizational change: Findings November-December, pp. 79-88.
the underlying reasons This study overturns the mythology that Beer, M., Eisenstat, R.A. and Spector, B. (1995),
Leadership & Organization cost, workload and legislation are the ``Why change programs don't produce
Development Journal change'', in Kolb, D.A., Osland, J.S. and
23/1 [2002] 6±15 primary obstacles to effective organizational
change. Indeed, we have shown that it is Rubin, I.M. (Eds), The Organizational
cultural entrenchment created by a Behavior Reader, 6th ed., Prentice-Hall,
dysfunctional management which prevents Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
organizations from experiencing positive Begley, T.M. (1998), ``Coping strategies as
change. predictors of employee distress and turnover
Future studies will enable us to describe after an organizational consolidation:
more precisely how management inhibits a longitudinal analysis'', Journal of
change and how a culture which supports Occupational and Organizational Psychology,
change initiatives can be created. The clues Vol. 71 No. 4, pp. 305-29.
are there, but, at present, we can not state Campbell, D.T. and Stanley, J.C. (1963),
this in a generalizable way. Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs
A key word analysis found that the 503 for Research, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.
unique statements were accounted for by 155 Carr, D.K., Hard, K.J. and Trahant, W.J. (1996),
Managing the Change Process, McGraw-Hill,
distinct statements. We believe that this
New York, NY.
reduced group of statements will explain the
Carroll, S.J. Jr, Paine, F.T. and Miner, J.B. (1977),
variance and will enable us to explain the
The Management Process, Macmillan,
failure of change programs. The dependent
New York, NY.
variable is change itself, and we will evaluate
Chia, R. (1999), ``A `rhizomic' model of
management and culture as the independent
organizational change and transformation:
variables using factor analysis to discern the
perspective from a metaphysics of change'',
subtleties between them.
British Journal of Management, Vol. 10 No. 3,
Thus far, our study has accounted for most
pp. 209-27.
of the factors proffered by other theorists on
Cooke, R.A. and Rousseau, D.M. (1988),
organizational change (Table III) and
``Behavioral norms and expectations:
accounts for some which are not. In addition, a quantitative approach to the assessment of
this study makes significant advances on the organizational culture'', Group and
elemental ideas articulated by Johnson (1998) Organization Studies, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 245-73.
and others. Cox, J.R.W. (1997), ``Manufacturing the past:
loss and absence in organizational change'',
Future research Organization Studies, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 623-54.
The next step will be to create a conceptual Cunniff, J. (1993), ``If only bosses would get out of
model which explains how the 13 factors the way'', Marketing News, Vol. 27 No. 4, p. 4.
identified in this paper are related. In a Dean, J.W. Jr, Brandes, P. and Dharwadkar, R.
subsequent study, we will discuss the (1998), ``Organizational cynicism'', Academy of
development of a new diagnostic which Management Review, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 341-52.
reflects our findings. This work has begun Duncan, R.B. (1972), ``Characteristics of
already. organizational environments and perceived
environmental uncertainty'', Administrative
Summary Science Quarterly, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 313-27.
Rumor has suggested that the primary Fayol, H. (1987), ``General principles of
obstacles to effective organizational change management'', in Shafritz, J.M. and Ott, J.S.
are cost, workload, and legislation. We found, (Eds), Classics of Organization Theory,
however, that when the executive level fails The Dorsey Press, Chicago, IL.
to lead and manage the organization up to the Fink, A. (1998), Conducting Research Literature
expectations of the staff this can create a Reviews, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks,
culture which is resistant to change. This CA.
means that any obstacles managers Fox-Wolfgramm, S.J., Boal, K.B. and Hunt, J.G.
encounter in effecting organizational change (1998), ``Organizational adaptation to
are largely of their own making. institutional change: a comparative study of
first-order change in prospector and defender
References banks'', Administrative Science Quarterly,
Ashforth, B.E. (1985), ``Climate formation: issues Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 87-126.
and extensions'', Academy of Management Freiberg, K. and Freiberg, J. (1997), Nuts!
Review, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 837-47. Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business

[ 13 ]
Bruce G. Hoag, and Personal Success, Broadway Books, New Labianca, G., Gray, B. and Brass, D.J. (2000),
Hans V. Ritschard and York, NY. ``A grounded model of organizational schema
Cary L. Cooper Galbraith, J.K. (1967), The New Industrial State change during empowerment'', Organization
Obstacles to effective
organizational change: Hamish Hamilton, London. Science, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 235-57.
the underlying reasons Goetz, B.E. (1968), ``Managerial planning'', Langan-Fox, J. and Tan, P. (1997), ``Images of a
Leadership & Organization in Koontz, H. and O'Donnell, C. (Eds), culture in transition: personal constructs of
Development Journal Management: A Book of Readings, 2nd ed., organizational stability and change'', Journal
23/1 [2002] 6±15
McGraw-Hill, New York, NY. of Occupational and Organizational
Greenwood, R., Hinings, C.R. and Brown, J. Psychology, Vol. 70 No. 3, pp. 273-93.
(1994), ``Merging professional service firms'', Larsson, R. and Finkelstein, S. (1999),
Organization Science, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 239-57. ``Integrating strategic, organizational, and
Greve, H.R. (1998), ``Performance, aspirations, human resource perspectives on mergers and
and risky organizational change'', acquisitions: a case survey of synergy
Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 43, realization'', Organization Science, Vol. 10
pp. 58-86. No. 1, pp. 1-26.
Gulick, L. (1937), ``Notes on the theory of Manganelli, R.L. and Klein, M.M. (1994), The
organization'', in Gulick, L. and Urwick, L. Reengineering Handbook, American
(Eds), Papers on the Science of Administration, Management Association, New York, NY.
Institute of Public Administration, Columbia Maslow, A.H. (1970), Motivation and Personality,
University, New York, NY. 2nd ed., Harper & Row, New York, NY.
Hofstede, G. (1995), ``Motivation, leadership, and Meyer, H.E. (1979), ``Personnel directors are the
organization: do American theories apply new corporate heroes'', in Patten, T.H. Jr
abroad?'', in Kolb, D.A., Osland, J.S. and (Ed.), Classics of Personnel Management,
Rubin, I.M. (Eds), The Organizational Moore Publishing, Oak Park, IL.
Behavior Reader, 6th ed., Prentice-Hall, Mintzberg, H. (1973), The Nature of Managerial
Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Work, Harper & Row, New York, NY.
Hofstede, G., Neuijen, B., Ohayv, D.D. and Nahavandi, A. and Malekzadeh, A.R. (1988),
Sanders, G. (1990), ``Measuring organizational ``Acculturation in mergers and acquisitions'',
cultures: a qualitative and quantitative study Academy of Management Review, Vol. 13
across twenty cases'', Administrative Science No. 1, pp. 79-90.
Quarterly, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 286-316. Newman, K.L. (2000), ``Organizational
Isenson, R.S. (1968), ``Technological forecasting: a transformation during institutional
management tool'', in Koontz, H. and upheaval'', Academy of Management Review,
O'Donnell, C. (Eds), Management: A Book of Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 602-19.
Readings, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill Book, Nunnally, J.C. and Bernstein, I.H. (1994),
New York, NY. Psychometric Theory, 3rd ed., McGraw-Hill,
Jackson, T. (1999), ``Managing change in South New York, NY.
Africa: developing people and organizations'', Pettigrew, A. (1975), ``Towards a political theory
The International Journal of Human Resource of organizational intervention'', Human
Management, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 306-26. Relations, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 191-208.
Johnson, S. (1998), Who Moved My Cheese? Pfeffer, J. (1981), Power in Organizations, Pitman,
G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, NY. London.
Kanter, R.M. (1995), ``Managing the human side of Piderit, S.K. (2000), ``Rethinking resistance and
change'', in Kolb, D.A., Osland, J.S. and recognizing ambivalence: a multidimensional
Rubin, I.M. (Eds), The Organizational view of attitudes towards an organizational
Behavior Reader, 6th ed., Prentice-Hall, change'', Academy of Management Review,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 783-94.
Katz, D. and Kahn, R.L. (1978), The Social Rousseau, D.M. (1988), ``The construction of
Psychology of Organizations, 2nd ed., climate in organizational research'', in
John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY. Cooper, C.L. and Robertson, I.T. (Eds),
Klein, D. (1970), ``Some notes on the dynamics of International Review of Industrial and
resistance to change: the defender role'', in Organizational Psychology, John Wiley &
Bennis, W.G., Benne, K.D. and Chin, R. (Eds), Sons, Chichester.
The Planning of Change, 2nd ed., Sachwald, F. (1998), ``Cooperative agreements and
Holt, Rinehart & Winston, London. the theory of the firm: focusing on barriers to
Koopman, A. (1991), Transcultural Management, change'', Journal of Economic Behavior &
Basil Blackwell, Cambridge, MA. Organization, Vol. 35, pp. 203-25.
Kotter, J.P. (1995), ``Leading change: why Sayles, L. (1977), ``The many dimensions of
transformation efforts fail'', Harvard Business control'', in Carroll, S.J. Jr, Paine, F.T. and
Review, Vol. 73 No. 2, pp. 59-67. Miner, J.B. (Eds), The Management Process,
Kotter, J.P. and Schlesinger, L.A. (1979), Macmillan, New York, NY.
``Choosing strategies for change'', Harvard Schein, E.H. (1987), ``Defining organizational
Business Review, Vol. 57 No. 2, pp. 106-14. culture'', in Shafritz, J.M. and Ott, J.S. (Eds),

[ 14 ]
Bruce G. Hoag, Classics of Organization Theory, 2nd ed., The reorganizing workplace'', Journal of Applied
Hans V. Ritschard and Dorsey Press, Chicago, IL. Psychology, Vol. 85 No. 1, pp. 132-42.
Cary L. Cooper Shepard, H.A. (1995), ``Rule of thumb for change Watson, G. (1970), ``Resistance to change'',
Obstacles to effective
organizational change: agents'', in Kolb, D.A., Osland, J.S. and in Bennis, W.G., Benne, K.D. and
the underlying reasons Rubin, I.M. (Eds), The Organizational Chin, R. (Eds), The Planning of
Leadership & Organization Behavior Reader, 6th ed., Prentice-Hall, Change, 2nd ed., Holt, Rinehart &
Development Journal Winston, London.
23/1 [2002] 6±15 Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Taylor, F.W. (1919), The Principles of Scientific Watson, T.J. (1982), ``Group ideologies and
organizational change'', Journal of
Management, Harper & Brothers, New York,
Management Studies, Vol. 19 No. 3,
NY.
pp. 259-75.
Tichy, N. (1983), Managing Strategic Change:
Weber, M. (1958), The Protestant Ethic and the
Technical, Political, and Cultural Dynamics,
Spirit of Capitalism, Charles Scribner's
John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY. Sons, New York, NY.
Urwick, L. (1937), ``Organization as a technical Wilkins, A.L. (1983), ``The culture audit: a tool
problem'', in Gulick, L. and Urwick, L. (Eds), for understanding organizations'',
Papers on the Science of Administration, Organization Dynamics, Vol. 12 No. 2,
Columbia University, Institute of Public pp. 24-38.
Administration, New York, NY. Zaltman, G. and Duncan, R. (1977), Strategies for
Wanberg, C. and Banas, J.T. (2000), ``Predictors Planned Change, John Wiley & Sons,
and outcomes of openness to changes in a New York, NY.

[ 15 ]