Managing Change in an Organisation


Supreet Ahluwalia
Vivek Joshi
Senior Lecturers
Department of Business
Manipal University Dubai Campus
Block #7 International Academic City Dubai
United Arab Emirates

Change management is one of the most keenly studied management disciplines today. Keeping in mind the fact that the organisations, which embrace change, are likely to be most successful one.  For this reason, many firms and institutions are alert to the need of continually monitoring their structure and procedures with a view of improving them.

This article focuses not only on the change but the whole process of change – starting from the introduction to the consolidation of change.

Definitions of change:

    o As a society, we have been moving from old to the new. And we are still in motion. Caught between eras, we experience turbulence.' - JOHN NAISBETT

Change is inevitable in the life of an organization.

    o According to Stephen P. Robbins- change is concerned with making things different. Things must be different because they change constantly.

    o Change can be defined as – when an organizational system is disturbed by some internal or external force, change frequently occurs. Change as a process, is simply modification of the structure or process of a system. It may be good or bad, the concept is descriptive only."

Outside environment of the organization is ever changing, even socially and politically we are always on the move, looking for newer and better ways of doing things. The industrial revolution & shareholders and other stakeholders demand in an organization today also presses the organizations to move. Added to this, the globalization and inter-cultural exchange had made us even more susceptible to change than ever before. We are becoming increasingly expected to adopt new techniques, due to the fast additions & changes in technology and even in management theories and practices. Competition and changing management focus also makes it inevitable.  The strategic emphasis on cost cutting and being innovative and competitive makes it even more important to be open to change rather to resist it. Accepting change whether it is structural, operational, functional, role oriented, compensatory or strategic is important.

Change is difficult to define because each organization will face its own challenges and, therefore, its own rationale for change. Equally, each organization has differing resources, company culture and personal dynamics. The leaders of individual organizations have varying aims. Among all differences, one point remains intact and that is change is the only permanent thing that modern day organizations of varying businesses, sizes and ethnicity have to adopt in order to survive and sustain.

Why organizations change?

Organizations change because of several reasons some of which are external to the company & others are internal to it. The External causes can be some of the following:

1. Government policies
2.  Changes in the economy
3.  Competition
4.  Cost of raw materials
5.  Pressure groups
6.  Technology push
7.  Scarcity of labor
8.  Social pressures
9.  Legal requirements, etc

Internal causes can be such as following:

1. Change in leadership
2.  Implementation of new technology
3.  Decline in profitability
4.  Changes in employee profile
5.  Union actions
6.  Low morale etc.

The organizational changes that are commonly seen in today's modern world are Downsizing, Introduction/ implementation of new technologies, Mergers & acquisitions & technological changes.

Diagnosis for change:

In change management the task of diagnosis is the area of senior management &/or consultants, employed as subject experts & advisers. They use various diagnostic tools for managing the process & for helping the client. Although the ranges of models are available, but no one model is "the best", each is simply way of handling the complex organization. Few of the important diagnostic models that can be applied are the six-box organizational model, the 7-S framework, the burke-litwin model.

The most important thing is to use & if need be then even develop a model that works for the specific situation that an organization confronts, i.e. one that assists mission, vision, thought, discussion, motto & action in regard to the future state as well as issues affecting the organization in present.

When so ever we talk about change the first thing that comes to our mind is the resistance to change.

Resistance to change:

We all know that people are generally resistant to change. The challenge of the unknown is often less palatable than the comfort of the familiar. When the human constituents of the organization are faced with adopting new ways of doing things, it is not surprising that they can be uncooperative. It is said that 'Most People Resist Any Change That Doesn't Jingle in Their Pockets'.

Sources of resistance to change may be rational or emotional, but the fact remains that resistance if not taken care at the early stage con cause major problems to the organization as well as in the implementation of the change, as rightly quoted by Maurer asserts, "resistance kills change".

Therefore, the first step towards managing change is to know the reasons why do people resist change. Some of them can be- they Dislike of change: Discomfort with uncertainty; Perceived negative effect on interests; Attachment to the established culture/ways of doing things; Perceived bleach of psychological contract; Lack of conviction that change is needed; Lack of clarity as to what is expected; Belief that the specific change being proposed is inappropriate; Belief that timing is wrong.

Excessive change; Cumulative effect of other changes in ones' life; Perceived clash with ethics; Reaction to the experience of previous changes; Disagreement with the way the change is being managed, etc. in order to overcome the resistance few of the tactics can be used such as Education and communication; Participation and involvement; Facilitation and support; Negotiation and agreement; Manipulation and cooperation; Explicit and implicit coercion etc. According to Scott & Jaffe, resistance is a phase that ends as individuals begin to separate from the past & become more confident of their capacity to play a role in the future that they face…the best strategy is to Use Participation to Reduce Resistance to Change.

Once people are convinced that change is necessary, and that the change vision is the right one, its time to move forward with implementation and consolidation of change.

Implementation rarely proceeds smoothly, but Kurt Lewin's Force Field Analysis can be of great help in implementing the change. Lewin has given 3 step change process, these steps are – "Unfreezing" the organization from its present state; Making the "change" ; "refreezing" the organization in the new desired state so that its members do not revert to their previous work attitudes & role behaviors. Then comes the last stage where changes are consolidated.

Consolidating change

The process of change in organizations help in testing the resources of an organization, it makes the organization review its strength & weaknesses. One of the greatest challenges for those involved in managing change is to try to ensure that change is not just a temporary phase. Therefore, in order to make it a permanent one it must stop being seen as something new & different from normal practice; it must become the new normality for the organizational people. That is, it must become an integral part of the day-to-day working.


Today change is the essential of survival and a way of carrying out your business. Every business firm whether big or small has to change with time or it will perish. This change along with it brings insecurities and pain that forces human beings or individuals to come out of their comfort zones to zone of uncomfortable debate and this leads to resistance to change. How effectively and efficiently the top management and leadership within the organization address these issues and how well are they prepare to handle the resistance will decide the faith of the organization and its success in implementing change. The importance of good communication system and the role it plays in make change process smooth and less painful can not be undermined.


    • Palmer / Dunford / Akin (2006), Managing Organizational Change - A multiple perspectives approach, McGraw Hill International Edition.
    • Harvard Business Review ( 1998) - Change  
    • Hayes, John (2002), Theory & practice of change management, McMillan
    • Robbins, Stephen P.(1999), Organizational Behaviour, Eight edition, Prentice Hall of India

Supreet Ahluwalia
Vivek Joshi
Senior Lecturers
Department of Business
Manipal University Dubai Campus
Block #7 International Academic City Dubai
United Arab Emirates

Source: E-mail January 3, 2008


Articles No. 1-99 / Articles No. 100-199 / Articles No. 200-299 / Articles No. 300-399 /
Articles No. 400-499 / Articles No. 500-599 / Articles No. 600-699 / Back to Articles 700 Onward
Faculty Column Main Page