Forces for Change - Organisational Behaviour

a) Internal Forces :

There are some internal forces that cause change in the organisations.They relate to change in machinery, equipment, methods and procedures, work standards, changes in the structure, changes in authority status, and responsibility etc.

The other forces may be like:

  1. Employees’ desire to share in decision-making;
  2. Employees’ demands for effective organisational mechanism;
  3. Higher employee expectation for satisfying jobs and work environment;
  4. Change in the mission or the objectives. This may be occasioned as a result of mergers or amalgamations etc.;
  5. Retirements, transfers or promotions;
  6. Changes in the location of the organisation;
  7. Changes in the work force culture, educational level etc.;
  8. Change in the top management personnel;
  9. Certain Deficiencies in the Existing System.

Another associated internal pressure that is instrumental to organisational change is the existence of certain loopholes in the system itself. They may be like unmanageable spans of control, lack of coordination between the departments, obstacles in communication, multiplicity of meaningless committees, lack of uniformity in the policies, non-cooperation between line and staff etc. But normally the need for change in such areas goes unrecognised until some major catastrophe occurs. A rational Organisation thinks in terms of change long before it turns into changed event.

b) External forces:

Outside the Organisation, environmental conditions are becoming less and less stable day by Management of Organisational Change 187 day. They are even becoming turbulent. These pressures necessitate the Organisation to change and adapt to meet the new demands and requirements. Organisation cannot afford to be rigid and inflexible in the wake of environmental pressures They must be dynamic and viable, so that they survive.

Organizations are forced most frequently to introduce changes in response to environmental pressures. Modern manager should be change conscious and operating in the constantly changing environment. Many external changes bombard the modern Organisation and make change inevitable. Some of these common forces are the rapidly changing technology, the economic shocks, changing market situations, social and political changes, changing Govt. policies, changes in labour and taxation laws etc. to name a few.


Technology is the major external pressure of change. It is perhaps the greatest factor that organisation reckons with. The rate of technological changes is so fast that we have to run to be where we are. Technological changes are creeping in our private lives too. They are also responsible for changing the nature of jobs performed at all levels in the organizations. Knowledge explosion, more particularly the computer technology and automation have made a remarkable impact on the functioning of organisation in the recent times. Technology change has always been equated with the progress in society. Today’s technology has outstripped the imaginations of the science fiction writers of a generation ago.

Each technological alternative results in setting into motion a chain of changes. The technology necessitates an organisation to change its process of manufacturing, make structural changes, make line and staff adjustments etc. Organisations of the day must equip themselves to absorb rapid extensive change in the technology and the need to deal with the great ambiguity and uncertainty.

Economic Shocks:

Increase in the purchasing power of the people. This increases the demand for luxury goods. The consumer also become quality conscious.

  1. Export/import policy of the Government.
  2. Changes in the interest rates.
  3. The status of the economy.
  4. The status of money market.

Market Situation:

Changing market situations is a seemingly ubiquitous phenomenon. The market changes include rapidly changing testes of consumers, needs and desires of consumers, suppliers, etc. Competition for new products, designs, changes in quality are growing at a terrific pace.

In a nutshell the entire complexion of the market is changing. Modern organisations are functioning in a highly competitive terrain. If they are to survive they must adapt themselves to the change and adopt the change.

Social and Political Change:

Such environmental pressures as social and political change, as well as the relations between government and business also influence results of organisational efforts. Many new legal provisions get introduced every time that affects the organizations. Organisational units literally have no control over these forces but in order to survive they must adapt to changes. Governmental policies requiring taxation, national economy, foreign relations etc. are also the factors forcing necessity to change on the organisations. Not only this but the world politics also affects the organisation.

Resistance to Change:

Many of times the change is resisted by employees, even if the change is for benefit of employees and the organisation. Resistance to change is perhaps one of the baffling problems a manager encounters because it can assume many forms. The effects of resistance may be overt or implicit, may be subtle and cumulative. Implicit resistance may be manifested in tardiness, loss of motivation to work, increased absenteeism and the requests for transfer etc. Overt resistance, on the other hand, assumes the form of wildcat strikes, shoddy work, reduction in productivity etc.

Resistance to change may, further, be individual or organisational. Individual resistance may be due to some personal, economic or social reasons. Organisational resistance on the other hand, generally centers round the structure, organisational constraints, threats to power and influence and finally, and sunk costs.

Individual Resistance :

One aspect of mankind that has remained more or less constant is his innate resistance to change. By its very nature ‘change’ is against the tendency towards homeostasis. Unfortunately, many a time managers’ change efforts in an organisatjon run in employee resistance to change. It is because almost all people who are affected by change, experience some sort of emotional turmoil. Further, individual attaches great preference to maintain status quo. Additionally, positive threats from habit or custom, fear of unknown, the security and attractiveness of familiar, displacement of skills because of the technological advancement are all the conditions favouring the status quo. In fact, there may be near-infinite reasons why people resist change in organisation. According to Keith Davis, however, the following are the main reasons for resistance to change.

  1. Economic Reasons:Keith Davis, remarks “people fear technological unemployment, reduced work hours, demotion, reduced wages and reduced incentives and resist change.” One major reason why some people resist organisational change is that they perceive they will lose something of value as a result. The greater the expected loss the greater the resistance. People resist change that opens the possibility of lowering their income directly or indirectly. That is to say whenever the employee perceives the inexorable consequences of change in terms of unfavorable pay, he has the tendency to resist it. Of course, change resulting in a reduction of pay is a rare phenomenon. Many workers are justifiably afraid of being phased out of their jobs by automation. They resist change, and their resistance to change can be quite effective.

  2. Obsolescence of Skills : Sometimes, however, introduction of new technology throws people away from doing important jobs (or demanding works) to less important or deadend ones, where less or no skills are required to exhibit. More realistically, when people perceive psychological degradation of the job they are performing they resist such a change.
    The rate at which the knowledge is exploding is incredible. As a result, knowledge in any particular field quickly becomes obsolete. Whenever people sense that new machinery (change) poses a threat of replacing or degrading them they simply resist such a change. A twenty years’ experienced accountant is quite likely to resist the introduction of a computer for preparing the wage bill because he feels that might affect his position and pay. The introduction of new methods also throw a need for retraining which an individual hates. This kind of phenomenon is commonly found in those managers who possess no real marketable skills and whose knowledge is obsolete and out-dated. These people strongly resist change and try their best to maintain status quo.

  3. Preference for Status Quo:Perhaps the biggest and the most sound reason for the resistance to change is the preference for status-quo. People have vested interest in the status quo. Change may pose disturbance to the existing comforts of status quo. Venturing the change may involve uncertainty and risk, may be at the cost of the convenience and happiness of the employees. Most of the people are comfortable with status quo and strongly resist change. It is because people typically develop patterns for coping with or managing the current structure and situation.

  4. Fear of unknown: Change presents unknown, which causes anxiety. Whenever people do not know exactly what is likely to happen they are likely to resist it. The unknown poses a constant threat. People change and its consequences. Uncertainty in the situation arises not from the change itself, but from the consequences surrounding change. To avoid making decision and fear of unknown, people may refuse promotion entailing transfer. Further any gap in the information renders the mind of the employee wandering over uncertainty about the future and he thinks the better way would be to oppose change.

  5. Social Reasons: Economic and personal reasons for the resistance apart, some social reasons may also be accountable for the possible resistance to change. Social displacements and peer pressure are among those social reasons that are very important for the manager to consider when dealing with resistance to change.

  6. Social Displacements: Introduction of change often results in breaking up of work groups. People in the working environment develop informal relationships. When the friendship with fellow-members is interrupted then there is a possibility for the employees to experience psychological let down. When the social relationships develop, as normally is the case, people try to maintain them and fight social displacement by resisting change.

  7. Peer Pressure: Situations are not rare where individuals are prepared to accept change at their individual level, but refuse to accept it for the sake of the group.

Organisational Resistance to Change:

The resistance to change from the organisation comes because of the

  1. Structure of the organisation,
  2. Resource constraints,
  3. Sunk costs, and
  4. General apathy.

The structural resistance:

Some organisational structures have inbuilt mechanism for resistance to change. For instance, consider a typically bureaucratic structure where jobs are narrowly defined, lines of authority are clearly spelled out, the flow of information is stressed from top to bottom. In such organizations the channels of communication make the new idea difficult to travel and eventually it increases the probability that the new ideal/innovation will be screened out because it is not suitable for the structure of the Organisation. Some organisations are so designed that they resist innovations. For example, those that perform narrowly prescribed assortment of functions oppose change. They also sometimes create strong defense against changes.

Resources constraints:

Organisations, many a times, operate under some resource constraints. If the resources with which to operate are available in abundance there will be no problem of introducing change. But the necessary financial, material and human resources may not be available to the Organisation to make the needed changes.

Sunk costs:

The plight of some companies is such that the heavy capital is blocked in the fixed or permanent assets. Even though the management in such organisations is convinced of the necessity of change, they may face resouce constraints because of the money already sunk in the purchase of block capital assets.

Sunk costs are not restricted to physical things alone. They can be expressed in terms of people also overcoming resistance to change.

The employees’ resistance to change can be overcome by –

  • Force field analysis
  • Communication
  • Proper management style.

Force field analysis :

For every change there are certain forces in favour of the change; there are certain forces against the change. A manager should analyse the strength of each of these and reduce the strength of the restraining forces and increase the strength of driving forces. This he can do by proper communication and convincing the people of the necessity of change.


It is always desirable that the manager takes people, especially those who are likely to be affected by the change in confidence before the change is set up. A communication intended to overcome the resistance should have the following characteristics;

That it should be at an appropriate time; that it should be addressed to those who are likely to be affected by the change. If, however, for any reason it is not possible to communicate to all at the people who have influence over the employees should be communicated.

That the communication should be honest. It should, state –

  1. what change?
  2. why change?
  3. how change?
  4. how the change will benefit the organisation?
  5. how the change will benefit the employees?
  6. how the change will affect an employees?
  7. what organisation proposes to do to reduce the rigors of change on employees?
  8. an appeal to all employees to co-operate in setting up the change deciding what management style to use.

The following management styles are available to the manager for overcoming the resistance to change.

Negotiations: convincing the employees about the necessity of change. At this stage some give-and-take may be required. Participation of the employees in setting up the change. If these fail, forcing the employees to accept the change.

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Organisational Behaviour Topics