Organizational Change


Ms. Ritika Rocque

Assistant Professor, Suretech College of Nursing, 120/2k, Ashokvan, National Highway no-7, Wardha Road, Rui Post, Nagpur-441108.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:,



Organizational change is an essential concept to understand in our complex world. It is both the process in which an organization changes its structure, strategies, operational methods, technologies, or organizational culture to affect change within the organization and the effects of these changes on the organization. Organizational change can be continuous or occur for distinct periods of time. A systematic approach to Organizational Change Management is beneficial when change requires people throughout an organization to learn new behaviors and skills. By formally setting expectations, employing tools to improve communication and proactively seeking ways to reduce misinformation, stakeholders are more likely to buy into a change initially and remain committed to the change throughout any discomfort associated with it.


KEY WORDS: Organizational change, change process, types of change, resistant to change, levels of change.




Organizational Change:

There is nothing permanent except change. It has become an inescapable fact of life; a fundamental aspect of historical evolution. Change in fact, is accelerating in our society. Revolutions are taking place in political, scientific, technological and institutional areas. Organizations cannot completely buffer themselves from this environment instability. Change is induced by the internal and external forces. Meeting this challenge of change is the primary responsibilities of management. An organization lacking adaptability to change has no future. Adaptability to change is a necessary quality of good management.


For an organization, its environment may be broken down into the following:

·        Societal factors

·        Environmental factors

·        Internal factors


This is an era of globalization and the organizations need to cope up with the dynamic and inevitable changes which take place very often. Because of these changes the competition among firms is becoming intense and every organization should be flexible enough to implement the changes whenever required for its survival.


Nature of Change:

More and more organizations today face a dynamic and changing environment that, in turn requires these organizations to adapt. Change has become the norm in most organizations.  Plant closing, business failures, mergers and acquisitions and downsizing have become common experiences for most organizations. Adaptiveness, flexibility and responsiveness are terms used to describe the organizations that will succeed in meeting the competitive challenges that businesses face in the past, organizations could succeed by claiming excellence in one area, quality, reliability or cost.



Organizational change refers to a modification or transformation of the organization’s structure, processes or goods. Flexibility requires that organizations be open to change in all areas, including the structure of the organization itself. 1


In a flexible organization, employees can’t think of their roles in terms of a job description. They often have to change the tasks they perform and learn new skills. The most flexible organizations have a culture that values change and mangers who know how to implement changes effectively.1


Forms of change:

There are two basic forms of change in organizations:

a)      Planned change and

b)     Unplanned change


A)    Planned change:

Planned change is a change resulting from a deliberate decision to alter the organization. It is an intentional, goal-oriented activity. The goals of planned change are:

i)       To improve the ability of organization to adapt to changes in its environment.

ii)     To change the behavior of its employees


B)     Unplanned change:

Unplanned change is imposed on the organization and is often unforeseen. Responsiveness to unplanned change requires tremendous flexibility and adaptability on the part of organization.2


Pressure for change:

Organizations encounter many different pressures for change. These pressures come from external sources outside the organization and from internal sources. This section examines the pressures that create the need for change. Awareness of these forces can help managers determine when they should consider implementing an organizational change.

·        How do organizations know when they should change?

·        What cues should organization look for?


A)    External pressures:

There are four key external forces for change: demographic characteristics, technological advancements, market changes and social and political pressures.

1.      Demographic characteristics:  Organizations need to effectively manage diversity if they are to receive maximum contribution and commitment from employees.

2.      Technological advancements: Both manufacturing and services organizations are increasingly using technology as a means to improve productivity and market competitiveness.

3.      Market change: The emergence of a global economy is forcing Indian companies to change the way they do business. Companies have to forge new partnerships with their suppliers and NMCs in order to deliver higher quality products at lower prices.

4.      Social and Political pressures:  managers thus may need to adjust their managerial style or approach to fit changing employee values. Political events can create substantial change.


B)     Internal Pressures:

Internal pressures for change come from inside the organization. These forces may be subtle, such as low morale, or can manifest in outward signs such as low productivity and conflict. Internal pressures for change come from human resource problems and managerial behavior/ decisions.

1.      Human resource problems/ prospects: These problems stem from employee perceptions about how they are treated at work and the match between individual organization needs and desires.

2.      Managerial behavior/ decisions: excessive interpersonal conflict between managers and their subordinators is a sign that change is needed. Both the manager and the employee may need interpersonal skills training or two individuals may simply need to be separated.


C)    The domino effect:

Change in itself will lead to change is the logic behind domino effect. The domino effect indicates that some change, small in itself, will cause a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence, by analogy to a falling row of dominoes standing on end.


Dominoes are interesting to think about in terms of cause and effect. This is because when dominoes fall, the falling is both an effect (of domino that fell into it) and a cause (of the fall of the next domino). This is true for all of the dominoes except the last one (which is just an effect). We call this “domino effect”.


Responses to change:

1.      If employees cannot foresee how the change will affect them, they will resist the change or be neutral, at best.

2.      If employees clearly see that the change is not compatible with their needs and aspirations, they will resist the change.

3.      If employees see that the change is going to take place regardless of their objections, they may initially resist the change and then resignedly accept it.

4.      If employees see that the change is in their best interests, they will be motivated to accept it.


A)    Disengagement:

It is psychological withdrawal from change. The employee may appear to lose initiative and interest in the job. Employees who disengage may fear the change but take on the approach of doing nothing and simply hoping for the best. They lack drive and commitment and they simply comply without real psychological investment in their work. The basic managerial strategy for dealing with disengaged individuals is to confront them with their reaction and draw them out so that they can identify the concerns that need to be addressed.


B)     Misidentification:

This is another reaction to change individuals reacting in this way feel that their identity has been threatened by the change and they feel very vulnerable. Many times they cling to a past procedure because they had a sense of mastery over it and it gave them a sense of security. Another strategy for managing resistance is providing empathy and support to employees who have trouble dealing with the change.


C)    Disenchantment:

It is usually expressed as negativity or anger. Disenchanted employees realize that the past is gone and they are mad about it. They may try to enlist the support of other employees by forming coalitions. One particular dangers of disenchantment is that it is quite contagious in the workplace. The first step in managing this reaction to bring these employees from their highly negative emotionally charged state to a more neutral state. To neutralize the reaction does not mean to dismiss it; rather, it means to allow the individuals to let off the necessary steam so that they can come to terms with their anger. The second part of the strategy for dealing with disenchanted employees is to acknowledge that their anger is normal and that you do not hold it against them.


D)    Disorientation:

Disoriented employees are lost and confused, and often they are unsure of their feelings. They waste energy trying to figure out what to do instead of how to do things. Disoriented individuals ask a lot of questions and become vey detail oriented. The managerial strategy for dealing with this reaction is to the change in a way that minimizes the ambiguity that is present. The information about the change needs to be put into a framework or an overall vision so that the disoriented individual can see where he or she fits into the grand scheme of things.2


Change process:

Most theories of organizational change originated from the landmark work of social psychologist “Kurt Lewin”. He developed a three stage model of planned change which explained how to initiate mange and stabilize the change process. The three stages are freezing, changing and refreezing.3


Fig. no 1: Kurt Lewin’s Model of change process


His assumptions were as follows:

1)     The change process involves learning something new, as well as discontinuing current attitudes, behaviors or organizational practices.

2)     Change will not occur unless there is motivation to change

3)     People are hub of all organizational changes i.e. individuals require to change.

4)     Resistance to change is found even when the goals of change are highly desirable.

5)     Effective change requires reinforcing new behaviors, attitudes and organizational practices.


A)    Unfreezing:

The focus of this stage is to create the motivation to change. Managers can begin the unfreezing process by discontinuing the usefulness or appropriateness of employees’ present behaviors or attitudes.


B)     Changing:

Because change involves learning, this stage entails providing employees with new information, new behavioral models or new ways of looking at things. The purpose is to help employees learn new concepts or points of view. Role models, mentors, experts, benchmarking the company against world class organizations and training are useful mechanisms to facilitate change.


C)     Refreezing:

Change is stabilized during refreezing by helping employees integrate the change behaviors or attitude into their normal way of doing things. This accomplished by first giving employees the chance to exhibits the new behaviors or attitudes. Once exhibited, positive reinforcement is used to reinforce the desired. Additional coaching and modeling also are used at this point to reinforce this stability of the change.


Resistance to change:

People often resist change in a rational response based on self-interest. However, there are countless other reasons people resist change. Organizational scientists have recognized that resistance to change stems from both individuals and organization variables.


I) Individuals barrier to change:

1.      Economic insecurity

2.      Fear of the unknown

3.      Threats to social relationships

4.      Habits

5.      Failure to recognize need for change


II)   Organizational barriers to change:

1.      Structural inertia

2.      Work group inertia

3.      Threats to existing balance of power

4.      Previously unsuccessful change efforts


How can resistance to organizational change be overcome?

One key to managing resistance is to plan for it and to be ready with a variety of strategies for using the resistance as feedback and helping employees negotiate the transition. Three key strategies for managing resistance to change are communications, participation empathy and support.


Communication about impending change is essential if employees are to adjust effectively. The details of the change should be provided, but equally important is the rationale behind the change. Providing accurate and timely information about the change can help prevent unfounded fears and potentially damaging rumors from developing. Delaying the announcement of a change and handling information in a secretive fashion can serve to fuel the rumor mill.

1.      Share political dynamics

2.      Educate the work force

3.      Involve employees in the change efforts

4.      Reward constructive behaviors

5.      Create a learning organization.4



1.     P.G. Aquinas. Organizational Structure and Design: Applications and challenges. Excel Books, New Delhi. 2008, Pg no: 17









Received on 14.05.2017          Modified on 15.06.2017

Accepted on 28.07.2017          © A&V Publications all right reserved

Int. J. Adv. Nur. Management. 2017; 5(4):375-378.

DOI:   10.5958/2454-2652.2017.00081.6