Essay on Causes of Resistance to Change

Organizational change is the process of transforming or modifying an organizational system. The process aims at improving the performances of the business and maximize on profits. It is very hard to find individual implementing changes that will tarnish the name of the organization and makes things worse. Effective leadership is about change; a true leader must be able to address situations of the ubiquitous resistance. Organizational and individual resistance to change demonstrates itself in numerous ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to irrelevant sabotage to outright insurgences. Leaders must remain focused and alert to understand the predictable sources of resistance. The uprising situations can only be handled by use of effective strategies. Managing resistance is a determinant to organizational success, and it can shape the fulfillment of objectives and goals handled in the proper manner. Timely response to reasons for resistance to change can solve the problem in an organization and open up ways to adapt. In this paper, I will discuss the Organizational and individual causes of resistance to change and describe how Lewin’s theory of change can be used to overcome resistance to change.

Organizational resistance

Most of the organizations are conservative in nature and tends to resist change. Government agencies will resist change and prefers to stick with what they have been doing. Organized religions, educational institutions and many business firms are not ready to accept change. The major sources of organizational resistance to change include structural inertia, limited focus of change, group inertia

In a situation where an organization is antagonized with change, structural inertia will act as a barrier to stability. Most firms have their own built in mechanisms that guarantee stability. The selection process, socialization techniques and formalization, is pre-determined by organizations so that they can select the preferred people in and remove those who oppose the interests of the organizations. Structural inertia will always resist any forces that advocate changes that will interrupt with the stability of the organization.

In addition, limited focus of change tends to remain unnoticed by the larger system. The changes made in the interdependent subsystems may interrupt with the roles and responsibilities of every section and this poses a challenge to implementation of change (Tanner, 2009). For instance, changing the technological process without modifying the entire structure of the organization is unlikely to be accepted.

Nevertheless, group inertia is another factor for organizational resistance to change. There are scenarios where individuals submit to accept change, but the group norms discourage them. Therefore, the management must involve all the stakeholders to avoid group behaviors that resist change. The unions of workers must agree with organizations so that change can be effective. The efforts of an individual fail to deliver in a situation where unions dictate actions that must be taken.

Individual resistance

Individual resists change because of their personalities, perceptions and needs. The main reason they resist changes includes the fear of the unknown, insecurity, economic factors, threat of comfort, poor communication, feeling of exclusion, self-interest, uncertainties, incompetency amongst others.

People will fear change because of the feeling that they may fail to suit in the system. Employees can doubt their abilities to conform to changes, and this makes them resist any attempts for introducing change. The new job requirements pose challenges to employees who are not ready to adapt to the new environment (Tanner, 2009).

Individuals who feel that they have high security in the workplace will oppose changes that may interfere with their feeling of safety. They perceive that changes will jeopardize their chances to continue serving in the highest office jobs. Similarly, job insecurity may creep in due to the same factors. Individuals may feel that they are in risk of being demoted or losing their jobs permanently if they display instances of incompetence’s.

How Lewin’s theory of change can be used to overcome resistance to change

Kurt Lewin developed a three phases Change Management Model that can be applied to overcome resistance to change. The three phases include unfreezing, transition and freezing and they have been a success in implementation change.

Unfreezing targets that forces associated with struggles to maintain the status quo and inflict a positive mind to organizations and individuals. It presents an event that leaves people to appreciate the need for change giving them the urge to seek for new solutions (Connelly, 2014).

The second step of the change model is the transition. Lewin emphasized on the need for coming up with new values, behaviors and attitudes. This has an effect to the structure and processes of an organization and changes the old ways of tackling issues. This step will always help individuals to submit and remain committed to the new changes.

Freezing is the last stage of the Change Management Model. In the process, the management must recognize the achievements brought up by the change process. There is a need to use the force field analysis that points out the barriers of change and at the same time maintain a forward-looking focus to the new changes(Connelly, 2014). The step also emphasizes on the need to conduct regular meetings involving the entire staff to create an understanding to the organizational structure. The three-step model assumes that an organization will get back to the way it handles things in the past if changes are not reinforced. In conclusion, leaders have a chance to fight the resistance to change if they can implement Lewin’s three-step model.


Mark Connelly. (2014, January). The Kurt Lewin Model Of Change. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from

ROBERT TANNER. (2009). Organizational Change - 8 Reasons Why People Resist Change. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from