Resistance to Change. The case of a shoe manufacturer

Term Paper, 2016

55 Pages


Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Literature Review
1.0 The concept of Change
1.1 The equation and evaluation of the necessity of change
1.2 Types and levels of change
1.3 Purpose of introducing changes
1.4 Stages of the change process
1.5 Design of Change
1.6 Change implementation
1.7 Techniques of introducing changes
1.8 Management by walking around
1.9 Team building
1.10 Communication
1.11 Attitudes of Employees towards change
1.12 Causes of Resistance

Chapter 2 – Research Methodology
2.0 Object and goal of the research
2.1 Research process
2.2 Profile of respondents
2.3 Presentation of research results
2.3.1 Assurance Testing
2.3.2 Frequency distribution
2.3.3 Comparison of frequencies
2.3.4 Relationships

Chapter 3 – Conclusions – Suggestions

Reference List

Appendix A


An enterprise is a dynamic sociotechnical system which should survive in a continuously changing environment to stand the external pressure, satisfying thereof the demands of its external and internal customers.

The main goal of every system is its preservation in time. This preservation can be achieved through its continuous adaptation to external and internal pressures and thus through constant change and evolution. The concept of evolution involves the concept of change (Burke & Church & Waclawski, 1993). Therefore, change is a concept closely linked to survival, growth and success of any system (Siegel, 1996).

However, a key element of each system is the man - employee. The employee with his/her work contributes directly to achieving the objectives pursued and leads and organizes the continued growth and development of the system to which s/he belongs. The employee as human nature seeks the development and pleasantly accept change (Oberoi, 2000). Without the effort to change, the society would not have progressed as well as technology, thinking and science. From a psychological point of view, the man would feel empty, sterile, unfinished, s/he would be inactive and passive, would lose confidence and creativity.

However, there are many studies and rich literature, claiming that the resistance of employees in an organizational change is almost automatic and certainly unexpected, and it is a key problem that the management of each organization / company has to face successfully to complete the task of introducing some change.

This paper focuses on this issue, approaching it both theoretically and practically. The results are of considerable interest, since the study was based on a fairly wide range of literature, but it has also successfully used a modern method of processing questionnaires which helped to export some initial conclusions.

The research was conducted in November 2004 in a company which is a major shoe manufacturer in Greece owning a wide retail chain. The sample was fairly small and limitations of the research are considered the relative small sample of the respondents as well as the fact that it concerned only one company.

Key words: Change, management, resistance, employees, organizational change


The firm is a dynamic social technical system, which needs to survive in the ever changing environment and withstand external pressures, satisfying the requirements of its external and internal customers.

The main goal of any system is its maintenance in time. Maintaining this can be achieved through its continuous adaptation to external and internal pressures and thus through constant change and evolution. The concept of evolution involves the concept of change (Burke & Church & Waclawski, 1993). Therefore, change is a concept closely linked to survival, growth and success of any system (Siegal, 1996).

However, a key element of each system is the man - worker. S/he with his/her work contributes directly to achieving the objectives and leading and organizing the continued growth and development of the system to which s/he belongs. The worker as human nature seeks the development and pleasantly accepts change (Oberoi, 2000). Without the effort to change, society, technology, thinking and science would not have advanced. From a psychological point of view, the man would have felt empty, sterile, unfulfilled, s/he would have been inactive and passive, s/he would have lost his/her confidence and creativity.

However, there are many studies and rich literature, claiming that the resistance of workers in an organizational change is almost automatic and certainly expected, and it is a key problem facing by the management of each organization / company to successfully complete the task of introducing some change.

This paper focuses on this subject, by approaching it both theoretically and practically. The results are of considerable interest, since the study was based on a fairly wide range of literature, but it has also successfully used a modern method of processing questionnaires helped to export some initial conclusions.

It is a research conducted in November 2014 in a company (shoe company). The sample was quite small. Limitations of the present research are considered the small sample as well as the fact that it concerns one company.

Chapter 1 - Literature Review

1.0 The concept of Change

Our era is characterized by a state of continuous change. There have always been changes. However, it is estimated that in the last 20 years their number corresponds to the number of these that have occurred in the last 200 years. (Morgan, 1972). Therefore, it is fair to characterize our era as "time of change".

With the term change is meant the transition from one state of affairs to another, or otherwise, the transition from a given set of conditions in a different one. This transition is nothing else but a process of adaptation and repositioning of the individual or organized groups (e.g. social groups or economic groups) in a new environment where they can operate more effectively (Hitiris, 2001).

Elliott (1990), defines change as a complex psychological fact that its energy should be respected and given careful management. According to Mullins (1999), change is a corrective effect. Everything and everyone is subject to constant change. Change is inevitable in social life, and thus in the business world.

Especially for organizations and businesses, the need for change is most urgent (Bainbridge, 1996). The concept of change is now synonymous with the stable manner of operation within enterprises (Appelbaum, St-Pierre & Glavas, 1998). The process of change is a continuous process of renewal and redefinition of the direction, strategy and capacity of a company in order to adapt to the ever changing environment and requirements of the clients (internal and external) (Moran & Brightman, 2001).

The vast majority of changes are a reorganization of existing structures and philosophies in order that enterprises become more competitive (Rieley & Rieley, 1999). Indeed, it was considered that change for an organization is a fundamental condition for their survival in the future. Only organizations that are "change champions" in their field can assert claim to meet the demands of the 21st century.

This is the main challenge and the struggle they have to face (Stiegelbauer, 1994). The organization does not want to be overcome by the current developments, it must change, at all levels of its operation and primarily on the perception it has on the concept of change.

The globalization of the economy has created more opportunities and more risks for everyone, forcing companies to dramatic reforms not only to remain competitive, but also to survive. Globalization in turn, is driven by very strong forces associated with technological development, international economic integration, maturatity of domestic markets in the developed countries and the collapse of many communist and socialist regimes (Kotter, 1996, Bainbridge, 1996)

It is understood that a challenge for change holds threats and opportunities for an organization. It is not only the fact of change itself that should be stressed and be paid attention, but also the way of handling it. This treatment will strongly determine the way in which the company will "see" itself in and after this procedure. The roads opened are probably many, but the basic directions are two: one the one hand, change is seen as an opportunity for development or, on the other hand, it is seen as a threat.

The concept of organizational change, began to occupy scientists of Business Administration since 1950s (Bamford & Forrester, 2003). The stability that characterized the business world in the 50s and 60s was replaced by rapid growth rates imposed by the new conditions prevailed.

In the years that followed, the general philosophy on the concept of change followed an evolutionary path. In the 80s the «linear model » was dominant (Stiegelbauer, 1994). Firms were not prepared for the change. The fact of change was simply established and was the stimulus to activate a cascade mechanism to address the new reality. There was no planning and programming. Obstacles were faced. This philosophy, however, created problems such as high costs, delays, etc. arising from incomplete preparation.

In the 90s, companies finding the problems of previous model, moved in the opposite direction. Strong emphasis was given on planning and design, with the ultimate aim of totalitarian control of the procedure. Although this approach met adequately the research on the successful completion of the project and led to the deepening of knowledge about the change (Bent, Paauwe & Williams, 1999), often caused long delays and as a result the process ends unexpectedly.

Today, research on change combines the above two philosophies and gives emphasis on the organization of the process of change and the implementation, in the practical problems that arise during the process. The process of change is organized in a very systematic and in depth way, but not spent on unnecessary details, emphasizing the effectiveness, efficiency and reusability of the model (Harrison, 1999), thus solving problems that arise from one-dimensional approaches of the past.

The evolution of philosophy on the concept of change, inevitably led to changes in corporate governance issues. The application of the concept of change implies the abandonment of the old centralized management and organization model of business and the adoption of a more flexible and more efficient model. The old hierarchical form in its organizational pyramid (where the top leadership was on the top), the strict structures that placed people to specific jobs, with stiff and one-way communication channels and procedures carried out by a standardized and bureaucratic model, ceased to be profitable.

A new management philosophy started to be implemented by organizations and with it was developed a restructure of their functions. The human spirit beyond hierarchies was liberated. Today there are flexible organizational structures that develop trust between management and employees and is based on the imposition of power. There is no longer a pyramid, but rather a "circle", with senior management being at the center, i.e. in a position that allows it to contact and communicate with all participating individuals and observe all regional activities. As a consequence, the most effective management of the company-organization (Graetz, 2000)

The new millennium is the era of “accelerating changes” (Harrison, 1999) as the managements of organizations try to take over, predict, and even to create these rising tides of changes. The basic objective is to ensure that the company will have greater performance after each change. With the correct prediction and study, the expansion of the activity, the responsible management, guidance, support and involvement of human resources, management may gradually have more chance to achieve a change with less effort.

1.1 The equation and evaluation of the necessity of change

In the periods of transformations and upheavals in business, there is a climate of doubt and insecurity. There are hesitations about whether the change is an appropriate business move if time chosen is correct, what are the most suitable actions that will lead to successful results, etc. The equation of change provides a tool to provide objective answers to similar problems (Carnall, 1990). It is expressed as follows:

EC = A x B x D

where: EC is the energy(desire) for change, A is the displease from the existing situation, B is the knowledge degree of the next steps and D is the vision shared by the involve in the process of change.

The three factors that fuel the desire for action, the energy change (A, B, D), must be present simultaneously to function effectively. The dissatisfaction of the current situation will lead to the desire for change only if there are both knowledge and vision for the upcoming effort. Without vision and knowledge, discontent leads to despair, apathy and frustration.

To be able to objectively assess the necessity of change,other relationships are used. The study of the value and necessity of change takes place through the prism of a proper analysis of the relation "cost-benefit". Besides, what is called "change relationship" is nothing but a comparison between the total cost of the introduction of a change and the difference between the perceived benefits of the new situation and perceived value that has emerged from this situation. In addition, Beckherd και Harris (1987) regarding the topic «change relationship» suggested the following equation (Gummer & McCallion, 1995):

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

whereas: C = change, Α = level of non satisfaction with the present situation, Β= will for change, D = degree on which change is possible, Χ= cost of change.

A basic prerequisite for someone to seek a change is the intensity of the feeling of non-satisfaction of this condition, his/her willingness to go in the future in an improved condition and his/her assessment that the attempted change will bring disorganization and disintegration.

Cost may also be referred to economic, but also psychological factors, the training time, adjustment to the new situation and the new roles, the cost of introducing new technology or equipment and more.

An enterprise which sees change as a key element for its improvement, should have a part of its annual budget (usually 10 -20% thereof), for expenses relating to investments necessary to introduce a change. (Kanter, 1999). It should be considered that the change is worth the effort or cost of achieving it. In order that the above happens, there should be a "factor of change" which will try to show the negatives of this future situation, since it will suggest the positive future points of a future status and will suggest appropriate ways through which the new ideas could be implemented.

1.2 Types and levels of change

Change in a company is a diverse and complex phenomenon. It pervades the whole range of its activities and therefore, all levels of operation in varying degrees and extent. For this reason, it is necessary to set out from the beginning all types of change on varying, each time, criteria.

At first, it should be noted that all types of changes, no matter the pressures they are caused and whether they concern either large or smaller scale interventions attempted by business (Hitiris, 2001).

For example, vision change, technological infrastructure, a merger, entering a foreign market, the introduction of innovative programs, reengineering processes, the introduction of a new evaluation system for staff, involve major changes. While changing a method, the introduction or removal of a product, the purchase of a new machine, the new division of work in a department, the flexitime power in a section concern smaller changes. As a rule, stronger and more systematic efforts and studies focus on large-scale changes. This is because large-scale changes are difficult to be achieved because of the complexity of objective obstacles and reactions to the behavior and attitudes of employees.

However, the management of smaller scale changes also needs responsibility and seriousness in order to achieve the desired objectives.

A main changes separation criterion is their origin. In this case, changes are divided into external (derived from exogenous with respect to the business pressures such as international political, social, technological, economic and environmental upheavals) and internal (endogenous pressures) (Mullins, 1999). The external changes are, often very intense so they even affect situations that they, seemingly, look remote and irrelevant (Gilgeous & Chambers, 1999).

Consequently, it is possible to cause or impose internal changes, ultimately affecting the structure of the business. It should be noted that the organization not only reacts to the external environment and the requirements - pressures generated in the internal environment, such as reduced productivity, inefficient control systems, reduced morale, cultural issues, etc.

In addition, changes can be divided into: Gradual and Radical (Huber & Glick, 1992, Dent, 1990). The characteristics and differences of these two types are shown in Table (1.1):

Table 1.1 : Characteristics of gradual and radical changes

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Todd, (1999) expands a little to distinguish this change by focusing on the extent, frequency and intensity of their occurrence. Therefore, changes can be divided into:

- Changes of continuous improvement, (usual- small changes).
- Gradual changes (medium difficulty and significance).

Radical changes (normally imposed by the external environment).

As it is seen from Table (1.1.), the gradual changes usually include efforts to upgrade existing systems, products, technology, operations and more. During radical changes, on the other hand, it is notable the implementation of novelties and innovations, often accompanied by the removal of older structures, products and management modes.

Moreover, a key criterion for the separation of the changes is the ability of the enterprise to respond and its readiness in the potential challenges and pressures that come either from abroad or from the internal environment (Hitiris, 2001).

Based on this criterion changes are distinguished in the following types:

Imposed or unplanned. In this type of change, the reaction of the organization is minimal or nonexistent. This is because, it is imposed on the organization to behave in a certain way that others have already prescribed, e.g. state, general manager, etc.

Normal or expected (Scheduled). This type of change does not seem to surprise the organization, who waits and seeks for it, as a result of a planned effort, e.g. market share expansion, promotion of a subordinate into a supervisory position, etc.

- Negotiable. In this case, there is no stable reaction. It is negotiable and the reaction of the organization towards change, but change itself and its pertinence. For example,creating special project teams, creating canteen staff, quality circles, how to comply with tax regulations, etc.

Generally the changes occurring in enterprises concern mainly two basic levels (Mullins, 1999):

(a) The production system and every that does not include employees directly (e.g. automation of production, factory expansion, production of a new product, IT, management information systems, etc.). More specifically, the changes at this level affect three key factors:

The factor of structure, which includes the structure, the processes and the establishment of the organization. E.g. political processes, control and communication procedures, etc.

The technological factor (technology) which includes everything concerning the mechanical equipment, the production process and facilities.

- The work factor, which includes the way to prepare, design, plan and organize each project e.g. routine work which requires specialized knowledge, it requires high responsibility, etc.

(b) The human factor system that includes everything that concerns employees and generally human resources, and their particular characteristics, such as technical competence, communication skills, their attitude to work or their superiors, the promotion system, the complaint satisfaction process, staff training, rewards, staff reductions, etc. (Hitiris, 2001).

1.3 Purpose of introducing changes

Most planned organizational changes are undertaken to enable the company to meet the requirements or opportunities that have been presented in the external environment. On the other hand, there are cases where the company has forecasted the change of a situation and tries to adapt accordingly to treat it successfully (Mullins, 1999).

Generally, all attempted changes in a business serves several purposes which could be grouped in four categories related to all areas of operation and running a business (Gilgeous & Chambers, 1999). These purposes are:

Commercial purposes, which include all the necessary actions needed to increase the competitive advantage (an increase of market share, opening to new markets, etc.).

Technological purposes: Which include the actions to introduce new technology in business and aim at modernizing the company and to increase productivity (adoption and familiarity with new technology, etc.).

Innovative purposes: These goals provide the opportunity for something new in the organization or the market. They include actions taken by a company to be renewed and modernized. Often these goals are not obligatory under external pressures, but express the philosophy and ambition of the company to pioneer (compliance with social and legal requirements, achieving social acceptance, etc.).

Organizational goals: Which include appropriate actions for the smooth and efficient running of the business. Their aim is to increase efficiency and identify talented people organized to operate successfully if they are to realize the vision of the company (increase staff performance, prevent withdrawal of useful members-partners, increasing the degree of motivation, etc) .

1.4 Stages of the change process

The foundation and stabilization process of change is a complex and difficult process. One of the reasons why this happens is that in order to be completed, it passes through three main stages in each of which, there are different problems presented that require special treatment ( Bridges Mitchell, 2000, Elrod II & Tippett, 2002).

According to Lewin (1958), the change process can be described very accurately by the following steps:

The first of these includes the "thawing" or "unfreezing" from the current situation (status quo). It is the stage where the first steps of change are undertaken, its necessity is highlighted and its activation in this direction is decided. The presence of management at this stage must be strong and supportive, in order to convey to workers safety and the comfort they need to work together.

The second stage is called "movement" or "transitional period" and includes all those activities required to make the transition from the old to the new situation (Katz & Kahn, 1978). During this period, people involved realize what exactly does the term "change" includes.

They learn, for example, what their new position is, their duties and responsibilities, their new working environment, etc. It is understood, therefore, that this phase of the process is particularly sensitive. In this period, there should be a comparison with the old situation and the emergence of resistance to the process of change is expected. For this reason it is essential an organized response and support from the management.

The last stage is called “refreezing” or recommitment and includes all necessary measures to stability the new condition and ensure its functionality and effectiveness.

The degree of management involvement is clearly limited in relation to the two previous stages, but remains equally important in order to consolidate the new situation and to avoid relapse phenomena.

Schein (1987), based on Lewin’s model, tries a different approach of the process of organizational change.

According to Schein, "unfreezing" is the process that creates the right conditions and incentives for change. Generally there are three actions, he proposes to achieve this:

Create a climate of instability and disconfirmation of the existing situation. This way the necessary incentives for the acceptance of change are provided.

Noting the gap between the existing dysfunctional or inefficient situation and the desired one.

Create the right conditions so that workers be psychologically prepared to accept the above actions.

The second step according to Schein is very close to the corresponding Lewin model. He calls it "changing” or "cognitive restructuring”. It is the process in which the appropriate assistance is provided to employees to meet the substantial modification of their thought and action. This, as stated inhis study, possible to be performed by switching the operational roles of workers through which they will be able to examine the circumstances from a different angle.

The third step - "freezing" - includes the adoption and consolidation of the new situation through: a) "personal freeze" that is, personal familiarity of each stakeholder to the new situation and satisfactory acceptance of its new role and b) “relational refreezing”, i.e., the smooth interaction of the new personal roles with the whole.

The question of the process of change has occupied various scholars. There have been several approaches and formulations, various names and models that all of them kept the same shape, i.e. the treatment of the change process as a single three-stage project (Kanter, Stein & Jick, 1992). A concentrated Table follows.

Table 2.1 : Models of the process of change

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source : Kanter, Stein & Jick, 1992 : 376 ( modified )

1.5 Design of Change

“The design of strategic change is art “(Leigh, 1991). The numbers, graphs and analyses alone are not enough.

To realize a change, it is needed to devise and implement new ways of organizing, structuring and operating a business. To achieve this and to operate a new way of organization and action, it is necessary to restructure key sectors of the system, such as human resource management, operational procedures and management.

The number of various parameters contained in these areas and that it is necessary to take into account, is so large that makes the process of changing a very difficult task.

The design of the process of change is a valuable tool to address the complexity of the project and the stress it causes. The design sets an action plan, describes, systematizes and organizes new ways of activating and synthesizes various information with a view to achieving the desired objectives (Heathfield, 2001).

There are three basic steps in the design change:


At this stage, the recognition of the present situation is done, as well as the selection of the desired final state.

How big is the change? (extent)

How fast do we want to move to the final situation? (time)

In order to define the desired final condition, the companies address to external consultants or are based on the abilities of the management (Kanter et al., 1992).

The proposals

At this stage, there are proposed and studied various actions and changes in order that the business achieves its goal. It is necessary to have special design which will take into account the obstacles and opportunities of each alternative proposal to exist a more integrated supervision of the whole issue. At this stage, there should be special provision for the reaction of people in the desired final state.

The decision

At this stage, the final decisions are taken regarding the final mode of business operation. After having studied the alternatives, it is decided what the most advantageous for the business solution is and an action plan is stabilized which now becomes a guide.


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Resistance to Change. The case of a shoe manufacturer
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resistance, change
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Fotini Mastroianni (Author), 2016, Resistance to Change. The case of a shoe manufacturer, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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