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Resistance to Change: Reasons and Consequences

Changes that are an integral part of development occur every day and might affect people in different ways. Some of them perceive the constantly altering world positively; others feel less optimistic and show a certain resistance towards changes. Still, the existence of a person under the conditions of continuous moderations determines the need to accept changes. The issue of changes and its perception includes numerous contradictions that an individual faces (Baack, 2017).

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A person might understand the variability of the world and the inevitability and necessity of changes on the one hand, and want stability, on the other. Moreover, among the internal reasons, there are external matters that prevent one from accepting altering situations (Grimolizzi-Jensen, 2018). The purpose of this paper is to analyze the external and internal factors that contribute to an individual’s resistance to change and to find a way to overcome unwillingness.

Speaking about the internal reasons, they might be self-interest, lack of understanding, a feeling that one’s comfort might be threatened, and low tolerance to alterations. These factors and the problem of perceiving changes positively are especially acute for organizations. They do their best to stay successful on the market and implement changes, while employees do not always see modifications as beneficial. In fact, most people tend to prioritize their welfare and comfort over the benefits of the organization; this is understandable and reasonable (Rafferty & Jimmieson, 2017).

Therefore, if people decide that the change is more in the interests of the organization than in their own or that the modification is directed against them, they will react to it with hostility. Hence, for instance, one can expect that a change that results in a decrease in income will meet wide resistance. This aspect is closely connected with the problem of misunderstanding and low tolerance towards changes. Sometimes, employees do not want something new to be implemented, even if the modifications are going to be beneficial for them. In other situations, workers just cannot see the use of changes.

As for the external reasons for people’s not being ready to see changes, they include different assessments of the need to alternate something and the environment creates a lack of trust in management. Here, the problem is not just in the fears and prejudices of a worker, but in the employers’ actions, too. In fact, employers should always assess situations from a worker’s point of view in order to be able to consider their interests (Rafferty & Jimmieson, 2017).

The resistance and skepticism regarding the innovative attitude of a company’s leaders are intensified in people when repeated changes that produce insignificant, non-obvious or local results are implemented frequently. At the same time, such modifications affect the majority of workers in the company. Hence, people get tired of the need to constantly delve into new rules, regulations, and requirements, to cope with a constantly changing work environment (Rafferty & Jimmieson, 2017). They begin to resist new ideas as soon as they learn about them. Therefore, it might be noted that company management should take particular measures in order to create such a working environment that makes it easier for employees to accept changes.

Several approaches to how to overcome the employee’s resistance towards changes have been developed; one of the most popular and effective means is the change theory by J. Kotter. He has been observing organizations that were trying to strengthen their competitive advantage by making changes through the implementation of programs (using new quality management methods, reengineering, restructuring, improving the corporate culture) (Das, 2019). Out of this experience, Kotter concluded that the change process needs several consecutive stages and developed a theory for overcoming modification resistance that includes 8 stages (Das, 2019). It is important to note that this approach can be used not only by companies where employees take innovations unwillingly but also in other spheres of life.

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Speaking about such ordinary cases, an acquaintance of mine, Mary by name, an old lady, is resistant towards buying train tickets online. The fact that she does not perceive the innovation might be reasoned by the internal factor which in her case, is low tolerance towards changes. In fact, the old woman is just sceptical about innovations and due to her age, has become less adaptive to alternations generally. However, by applying Kotter’s theory, it might be possible to develop a plan which will help to persuade the acquaintance into changing her mind about the situation and using the service.

Following Kotter’s model, the plan of overcoming Mary’s resistance towards the change will have 8 parts. The first step of the researcher’s system is to create an atmosphere of urgency (Das, 2019). For the situation analyzed, it means talking the acquaintance into taking an urgent train trip while the railway station is located far away from her house, and it is inconvenient to buy a ticket there. Hence, in that way, she can realize the necessity of the change. Then, Kotter suggests forming a team of influencers who appreciate the alternation planned and work for it (Das, 2019). In fact, I can ask the old lady’s friends to support the idea. The next step is creating a new vision and a picture of the desired future (Das, 2019). Hence, I can tell Mary that buying a ticket online can save time and make preparations for the trip easier.

Furthermore, the new vision is to be promoted and developed, that is why Mary might be given information on further advantages of purchasing tickets online (Das, 2019). Next, it is important to create appropriate conditions for the implementation of changes (Das, 2019). In the case described, it might include sharing the internet with the acquaintance and adjusting her computer. Further steps are planning and achieving the first results and consolidating success (Das, 2019).

The acquaintance will be helped by me to buy a train ticket online and purchase a return ticket on her own under my supervision. The last stage of the process of making an individual accept the innovation is the widening of its range and the long-term fixing of the result (Das, 2019). Hence, I should supervise Mary in purchasing tickets online on a regular basis and perhaps, teach her how to buy things via the internet. I will know that the plan has worked if I see that Mary successfully uses the service and other opportunities given by the internet.

To sum up, it is significant to press the point that many people find it difficult to accept alternations and show resistance towards them which can be reasoned by external and internal factors. The issue is particularly acute in regard to companies’ development when employees take new methods of work and innovations unwillingly. That is why J. Kotter has created an 8-stage system that helps organizations overcome their employees’ resistance. However, the approach can be used in other situations, too. For example, my acquaintance, an old woman, does not accept buying tickets online. On the basis of Kotter’s theory, a plan has been developed that might help her see the change positively and enjoy the innovation.


Baack, D. (2017). Organizational behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

Das, V. (2019). Comparative study of Kotter’s and Hiatt’s (ADKAR) change models. Journal of Leadership and Management, 1(15), 77–95.

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Grimolizzi-Jensen, C. (2018). Organizational change: Effect of motivational interviewing on readiness to change. Journal of Change Management, 18(1), 54–69.

Rafferty, A., & Jimmieson, N. (2017). Subjective perceptions of organizational change and employee resistance to change: Direct and mediated relationships with employee well‐being. British Journal of Management, 28(2), 248–264.

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