Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 917–931 | Cite as

Institutionalized Resistance to Organizational Change: Denial, Inaction and Repression

  • Carol Agócs
Article

Abstract

An extensive theoretical and research literature on organizational change and its implementation has been accumulating over the past fifty years. It is customary in this literature to find resistance to change mentioned as an inevitable consequence of organizational change initiatives. Yet there has been little discussion of the nature and forms of resistance that is institutionalized in organizational structure and processes. Furthermore, organization development perspectives on organizational change address management-initiated change, but not change proposed by advocates for the powerless and disadvantaged. Focussing on institutionalized resistance from the standpoint of the advocate of fundamental change, this discussion proposes a typology consisting of a sequence of forms of active resistance to change, from denial through inaction to repression. The typology is illustrated by referring to responses of organizational decision makers to the efforts of employment equity change agents to address issues of systemic discrimination in the work place. The purpose of the typology is to assist change advocates, such as equality seekers, to name, analyze and think strategically about the institutionalized resistance they encounter, and about effective responses to the resistance.

backlash change agent organization development (OD) organizational change resistance to change systemic discrimination in employment 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abella, R. S.: 1984, Report of the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment (Minister of Supply and Services Canada, Ottawa).Google Scholar
  2. Adamson, N., L. Briskin and M. McPhail: 1988, Feminist Organizing for Change (Oxford University Press, Toronto).Google Scholar
  3. Agócs, C., C. Burr and F. Somerset: 1992, Employment Equity Cooperative Strategies for Organizational Change (Prentice Hall, Scarborough).Google Scholar
  4. Alderfer, C. P., R. C. Tucker, D. R. Morgan and F. Drasgow: 1983, ‘Black and White Cognitions of Changing Race Relations in Management’, Journal of Occupational Behavior 4, 105–136.Google Scholar
  5. Alvarez, R., K. Lutterman et al.: 1979 Discrimination in Organizations (San Francisco: Jossey Bass).Google Scholar
  6. Baritz, L.: 1960, The Servants of Power (Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Ct.).Google Scholar
  7. Barzelay, M.: 1992, Breaking Through Bureaucracy (University of California Press, Berkeley).Google Scholar
  8. Beer, M. and E. Walton: 1990, ‘Developing the Competitive Organization: Interventions and Strategies’, American Psychologist 45(2), 154–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Berger, P. and T. Luckmann: 1966, The Social Construction of Reality (Garden City, Anchor).Google Scholar
  10. Bocialetti, G.: 1987, ‘Quality of Work Life: Some Unintended Effects on the Seniority Tradition of an Industrial Union’, Group and Organization Studies 12, 386–410.Google Scholar
  11. Braddock, J. H. II and J. McPartland: 1987, ‘How Minorities Continue to be Excluded from Equal Employment Opportunities: Research on Labor Market and Institutional Barriers’, Journal of Social Issues 43(1), 5–39.Google Scholar
  12. Burke, W. W.: 1987, Organization Development: A Normative View (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass.).Google Scholar
  13. The Chilly Editorial Collective: 1995, Breaking Anonymity: The Chilly Climate for Women Faculty (Wilfred Laurier University Press, Waterloo, Ontario).Google Scholar
  14. Coch, L. and J. R. P. French, Jr.: 1948, ‘Overcoming Resistance to Change’, Human Relations 1(Aug) 512–532.Google Scholar
  15. Collinson, D., D. Knights and M. Collinson: 1990, Managing to Discriminate (Routledge, London).Google Scholar
  16. Cox, T. Jr. and S. Nkomo: 1990, ‘Invisible Men and Women: A Status Report on Race as Variable in Organization Behavior Research’, Journal of Organizational Behavior 11, 419–431.Google Scholar
  17. Cockburn, C.: 1991, In the Way of Women: Men's Resistance to Sex Equality in Organizations (ILR Press, Ithaca).Google Scholar
  18. Crosby, F. et al.: 1989, ‘The Denial of Personal Disadvantage Among You, Me, and All the Other Ostriches’, in M. Crawford and M. Gentry (eds.), Gender and Thoughts: Psychological Perspectives, pp. 78–99.Google Scholar
  19. Essex, C., letter to the editor, Western News, March 23, 1995, 14.Google Scholar
  20. Feldthusen, B.: 1990, ‘The Gender Wars: ‘Where the Boys Are”, Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 4(1), 66–95.Google Scholar
  21. Forrest, A.: 1993, ‘Women and Industrial Relations Theory: No Room in the Discourse’, Relations industrielles 48(3), 409–440.Google Scholar
  22. Gamson, W. A.: 1968, Power and Discontent (Dorsey, Homewood, Ill.).Google Scholar
  23. Goffman, E.: 1963, Stigma (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs).Google Scholar
  24. Harding, S.: 1991, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? (Cornell University Press, Ithaca).Google Scholar
  25. Hooks, B.: 1989, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (South End Press, Boston).Google Scholar
  26. Ibarra, H.: 1993, ‘Personal Networks of Women and Minorities in Management: A Conceptual Framework’, Academy of Management Review 18(1), 56–87.Google Scholar
  27. Kanter, R. M.: 1977, Men and Women of the Corporation (Basic, New York).Google Scholar
  28. Klein, L.: 1976, A Social Scientist in Industry (Gower Press, Epping, Essex).Google Scholar
  29. Kossek, E. E. and S. Zonia: 1993, ‘Assessing Diversity Climate: A Field Study of Reactions to Employer Efforts to Promote Diversity’, Journal of Organizational Behavior 14, 61–81.Google Scholar
  30. Kotter, J. and L. Schlesinger: 1979, ‘Choosing Strategies for Change’, Harvard Business Review 57 (March/April), 106–114.Google Scholar
  31. Lewin, K.: 1951, Field Theory in Social Science (Harper and Row, New York).Google Scholar
  32. Lewin, K.: 1947, ‘Frontiers in Group Dynamics’, Human Relations 1(1), 5–41.Google Scholar
  33. Madhava Rau, L.: 1996, ‘Frustration Writ Large: The Politics of Racism at Western’, Women's Studies International Forum 19(3), 327–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Manz, C., D. Keating and A. Donnelon: 1990, ‘Preparing for an Organizational Change to Employee Self-management: The Managerial Transition’, Organizational Dynamics 19(2), 15–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Martin, S.: 1993, ‘Proving Gender Bias in the Law and the Legal System’, in Joan Brockman and Dorothy Chunn (eds.), Investigating Gender Bias: Law, Courts and the Legal Profession (Thompson, Toronto) pp. 19–36.Google Scholar
  36. Mills, A. and S. Murgatroyd: 1991, Organizational Rules (Open University Press, Buckingham).Google Scholar
  37. Mills, A. and T. Simmons: 1995, Reading Organization Theory: A Critical Approach (Garamond Press, Toronto).Google Scholar
  38. Mirvis, P. H. and D. N. Berg (eds.): 1977, Failures in Organization Development and Change (Wiley-Interscience, New York).Google Scholar
  39. Pettigrew, A.: 1985, The Awakening Giant: Continuity and Change in ICL (Basil Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  40. Pettigrew, T. and J. Martin: 1987, ‘Shaping the Organizational Context for Black American Inclusion’, Journal of Social Issues 43(1), 41–78.Google Scholar
  41. Pfeffer, J.: 1981, Power in Organizations (Pitman, Boston).Google Scholar
  42. Reitz, J. and R. Breton: 1994, The Illusion of Difference: Realities of Ethnicity in Canada and the United States (C. D. Howe Institute, Toronto).Google Scholar
  43. Schlesinger, L. A. and B. Oshry: 1984, ‘Quality of Work Life and the Supervisor: Muddle in the Middle’, Organizational Dynamics 13, 4–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, D.: 1987, The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology (University of Toronto Press, Toronto).Google Scholar
  45. Tannen, D.: 1990, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation (Ballentine, New York).Google Scholar
  46. Thacker, R. and S. Gohmann: 1993 Fall, ‘Male/Female Differences in Perceptions and Effects of Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: ‘Reasonable’ Assumptions?’, Public Personnel Management 22(3), 461–472.Google Scholar
  47. Tichy, N.: 1983, Managing Strategic Change: Technical, Political and Cultural Dynamics (John Wiley, New York).Google Scholar
  48. The University of Western Ontario: August 1995, ‘Report of the Faculty Pay Equity Committee’.Google Scholar
  49. Walton, R. E.: 1977, ‘Work Innovations at Topeka: After Six Years’, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 13, 422–433.Google Scholar
  50. Weedon, C.: 1987, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory (Basil Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  51. Weinstein, D.: 1984, ‘Bureaucratic Opposition: Whistle-blowing and Other Tactics’, in Ron Westrum and Khalil Samaha (eds.) Complex Organizations: Growth, Struggle, and Change (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs), pp. 254–268.Google Scholar
  52. Wieneke, C.: 1991, ‘Equal Employment Opportunity in Australia: A Practitioner's Perspective’, Equal Opportunities International 10(1), 1–9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol Agócs
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social ScienceThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations