Dealing With Resistance for Technological Change

Problem Statement

Change management and change processes are the core of modern business and organizational development. Thus, change management is often followed by resistance to change and negative attitudes towards change. The organizational context permits managers to see the way institutionalized settings can frame local activities. Technology and innovations improve out life and simplify routine operations but many employees resist change because of personal stereotypes and feat of unknown. This creates problems and barriers to change for many modern organizations depended upon technological innovations and new technological solutions. Resistance to change is a threat to many organizations as it prevents them to improve performance and operations.

Resistance to Change Defined

The driven need for change is to reduce negative emotions and attitudes which prevent the company from effective and fast changes. Resistance to change is defined as “mistakes or overlooked issues in an implementation plan. Tacit resistance does not disappear hut ferments, grows into sabotage, or surfaces later when resources are depleted. mill’s operation. Some of the operators relinquished their novel power by tactfully educating their foremen, but others felt they had earned the right to more autonomy” (Leonard-Barton and Kraus 1985, p. 108). For example, norms can channel employees with particular titles and presumed competencies, responsibilities and entitlements into certain technological spaces at particular times to engage in particular tasks. The IT setting not only shapes technological activities but also permits emergent processes of talk that create a narrow, locally organized sense of technological context that is negotiated over the course of the communication. The content and style of what is or is not said in this technological discourse can affect problem solving; for example, the experiences that employees acquire by working together and by reported or perceived reputational assessments can lead to beliefs about the distribution of technological knowledge that can, in turn, influence who is consulted (Long and Spurlock 2008).

Case Studies

The case of Sun Myrosystems shows that resistance to change reflects personal fears and anxieties of employees Similar to other companies, “the reason for resistance is fear that the innovation will he politically enfeebling and that supervisors and even operators will lose some control by adopting it” (Leonard-Barton and Kraus 1985, p. 109). Outdated technology and old ways of doing business demanded new ways and methods of performance. Thus, the result of this technological discourse is that, in addition to the distribution of knowledge attributed to employees because of their official titles and duties, there is an implicit or assumed distribution of knowledge that can diverge from the organizational conditions of decision making by official titles and duties. Statement is framed and guided by these organizationally defined status and technological relationships and by expectations that are locally emergent and managed. Because of their varying positions in this structure employees are likely to have differential access to evidence, and to experience differential support and resistance from other personnel in their efforts to communicate within and across these frames (Long and Spurlock 2008). The Sun Myrosystems shifted from propriety platform to industry standard platform. The outcomes were improved productivity and increased profit and customer satisfaction (Nee n.d.). Employees’ resistance to change builds in direct proportion to the magnitude of the gap they perceive between the level of effort expected of them as part of the transformation process and the resources available to get the job done. Often this initial resource-generating step involves closing and consolidating peripheral or underperforming operations, trimming employee payrolls, reducing corporate staff overhead expenses, and suspending or deferring programs so that current operations can generate more cash to be redeployed to the launch of the corporate transformation process.

Introducing a major new technology into an established bureaucracy is not at all easy. The driven need for change and key success factors are explained by the following facts. At pharmaceutical company managers had to hire a full-time Unix expert to be on site because there was no Unix expertise present to oversee the installation and support of the advanced workstations. Our early experience with university test sites also revealed that the software requires a computing infrastructure that is only beginning to emerge in many parts of the scientific world. Furthermore, there is often resistance to changing practices that work well. When the changes in practice are accompanied by a major change in the supporting technology, the challenge is all the greater. “The “fully” automated office (offices will not be “fully” automated until computers can think independently of humans) will “type-write material, proof and edit typed material, handle internal correspondence, file and retrieve reports, do research, draft original material, schedule meetings, do billing and accounting, handle telephone calls, copy material, and mail material” (Housel and Housel n.d. p. 7-8). The management should demonstrate the feasibility of technical solutions to a range of important questions, and explores the patterns of use that need to be understood in order to have this technology accepted by appropriate user communities (Overcoming technology resistance n.d.). “Office employees are likely to resist the installation of office automation for two basic reasons: they fear being replaced by the new sophisticated, more efficient equipment” (Housel and Housel 2008, p. 5). In contrast to office workers, pharmaceutical companies’ employees resist change because of lack of skills and additional training needed for effective performance. The outcomes are improved working conditions and motivation among employees.

Another important aspect of technological change is the existence of different substantive and social domains. For example, technological innovations have both horizontal and vertical structures where there are attendings or specialists with significant autonomy at the top of a vertical construction that can include a division. “A new technology may pay off for an organization as a whole but not for employees in any form they can recognize” (Leonard-Barton and Kraus 1985, p. 109). Finally, computer systems rely on a variety of technologies for computing, communicating and transforming information. For example, the chart often combines technical reports and a large body of seemingly chaotic written material. Different employees, employing different IT techniques, contribute to the chart; this information may be used not only in planning for production facilities, but may also be retrieved for studying employees and groups categorized by similar problems. The interpretations by IT professionals of the materials assembled in a chart reflect a complex set of professional and social relationships and attributions about the distribution of IT skills “A good implementation plan should try to identify where a loss of power may occur so that managers can anticipate and possibly avert any problems arising from that loss” (Leonard-Barton and Kraus 1985, p. 109).

The importance to manage resistance to change is explained by faster and effective implementation of new technology and cost savings. There are many challenges in introducing any technology into modern business environments. Modern IT organizations are frequently no where as technically advanced as certain portions of the scientific and engineering world. Change management and leveling resistance to change are crucial steps as well as the substantive review supervised by at least one program manager. For the most part, the employees involved at all of these various steps have only recently begun to use PC for word processing and electronic mail. Introducing a technology that uses the Unix operating system, advanced workstations, and complex, high-functionality software is a main challenge. “Looking at the network structure can help to assess the presence of these interactions, which executives intuitively know matter but have had little ability to visualize and influence” (Johnson-Cramer et al 2007, p. 87). Managers in IT organizations facing a revitalization challenge must devote considerable effort at the front end of their transformation to the creation of resources. Bank managers attempting to revitalize their organizations also need to seek new external resources as they launch their transformation process. They often do this by increasing their debt burden or placing additional stock in the market, often on unfavorable terms because of their strained performance condition (Long and Spurlock 2008).


In sum, resistance to technological change creates threats and barriers to effective communication and change implementation strategies. The main causes of resistance to change is fear of new technologies and fear of unknown, The cases of the Sun Myrosystems and psharmacuitical industry demonstrates that effective change management requires careful attention to HR and additional training. The more substantial the shift on technology, the more energy those held accountable will devote to searching for behaviors that will help employees perform better. If IT expectations change only modestly, as in many IT improvement initiatives, those affected are not very motivated to risk trying new behaviors and approaches.


Johnson-Cramer, M.E. Parise, S., Cross, R.L. (2007). Managing Change through Networks and Values. CALIFORNIA MANAGEMENT REVIEW 49 (3), pp. 85-110.

Housel, D.J. Housel, M. The Role of Business Communications Practitioners in the Computer Age. THE JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION, pp. 5-12.

Leonard-Barton, D. Kraus, W.A. (1985). Implementing new Technology. Harvard Business Review. pp. 103-109.

Long,, S., Spurlock,, D.G. (2008). Motivation and Stakeholder Acceptance in Technology-driven Change Management: Implications for the Engineering Manager. Engineering Management Journal. 20 (2), pp. 30-36.

Nee, E. Rising and Setting. Due Diligence. Overcoming technology resistance (2007). Business Strategy Review Winter. pp. 25-28.

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