This project seeks to examine the resistance of change in organizations based on the actual evaluation of a recent case in Kuwait’s Petroleum Industries Company (PIC) where employees resisted a proposed change to adopt paperless technology. The company also wishes to adopt a new hierarchy and promotional system that has received profound resistance from the employees.
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This report bases its arguments on a theoretical model to derive the reasons for the resistance of change and resolutions to such challenges in future change processes. The focus of the research is on the resistance to the implementation of change at PIC. Also, the research attempts to find causative agents and solutions for three hypotheses that our team has developed to facilitate the objective of the project.
Mainly, the method of research involves the use of unstructured interviews and focus groups on soliciting information from the study groups. Next, the paper provides a discussion of the research findings based on the theoretical model. The project also provides several recommendations that PIC should embrace to alleviate resistance to organizational change in the future.
Lastly, the project concludes that organizations should seek better ways of managing resistance to change in the future using tactics that are more apt to change the behavior of employees towards change resistance.
Today’s information age, advancement of technology, and nature of the global ecthe onomy have necessitated the need for change in businesses and institutions. As a result, change has become an inevitable practice in almost all types of organizations. However, the conformity to new knowledge, ideas, and techniques does not always feature an easy undertaking for virtually all organizations.
The objective of change is to transform or modify the existing structurthe es of an organization in an attempt to improve the overall performance. Consequently, the processes of change have crucial implications on the role, position, and general functionalities of the various kinds of workers who are deployed to serve the organization.
Normally, change in organizations is met with substantial resistance from stakeholders such as the workforce, business executives, and even directors due to a vast range of whys and wherefores that each of them wants to be addressed. The management of resistance to change is crucial for the accomplishment of organizational goals in any business.
Nonetheless, the success of change is largely attributed to the managers’ readiness to examine the probable issues that may trigger resistance of change from various stakeholder groups. This project explores the resistance of change in organizations by examining the causes of resistance and the possible solutions to such challenges in the Petroleum Industries Company (KPC) in Kuwait.
The purpose of this research is to examine the resistance of change amongst employees of PIC organization in Kuwait and the feasible measures that can address the issue. The company executives and directors have decided to implement a new strategy that is designed to automate the production process.
The main purpose of automating the production process in PIC organization is to minimize cases of bureaucracy by adopting a paperless manufacturing technology. This strategy will not only reduce paper writing but also improve the overall operational efficiency whilst offering superior products with heightened sensitivity and minimization of waste.
Just like most companies, PIC is aware that there is a need to match its organization with the widespread paperless evolution to be effective and systematic.
In addition, PIC wishes to establish a new promotional system in an attempt to boost the overall productivity at both individual and organizational levels. Finally, the organization desires to downsize its structure by putting in place a new system of hierarchy alongside the development of new job descriptions for workers.
The major challenge that PIC has encountered is that employees have become adamant to the implementation of change owing to numerous claims that suit individual interests in the organization. At the outset, employees have claimed that the implementation of an automatic paperless system will result in change of roles and elimination of some jobs from the company.
Secondly, the establishment of a different system of hierarchy has encountered great resistance since the company’s old-fashioned managers and employees have blatantly refused to embrace the proposed organizational structure. There are claims that the newly developed structure will lead to reshuffling of responsibilities and/or elimination of some jobs from the company.
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Moreover, these employees feel that the structure will compel the top management team to carry out regular performance appraisals. Altogether, several managers and a number of employees have also failed to embrace the paperless technology and the anticipated promotional system.
This project seeks to establish the crucial factors that have engineered the resistance of change in PIC and the necessary preparations that the company should have made to prevent change resistance before the presentation of the change strategy.
The process of change is complex and takes the efforts of the organization leaders to acquaint employees and managers with adequate information about the nature, importance, and implications of the change before the implementation of the change. The author posits that many change processes are unfavorable to the target groups. Therefore, change resistance is predictable feedback from employees, managers, and even business executives.
These groups vary differently in terms of thinking and conceptualization of the significance of change in an organization. As a result, the stakeholder groups may engage in faultfinding activities to pin down the proposed change plan.
In the context of PIC, factors such as short-term focused employees, cognitive rigidity, inadequate training, and lack of information regarding the change of action courses are the most likely causes of change resistance.
The research topic for this project is based on the resistance of change in organizations, which is an unavoidable phenomenon in the contemporary business world. The study focuses on the resistance of change in PIC, a subsidiary company of Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC). From the study topic, we derived the following hypotheses.
H1: Following the proposed implementation of paperless technology coupled with inadequate training and technology awareness, the old-fashioned managers and employees resist the execution of the automated system in PIC.
H2: Fear of job elimination, reshuffling, and the reassignment of duties have resulted in resistance to the new organizational hierarchy.
H3: Several employees have resisted the new promotional system that seeks to boost productivity because it does not meet their interests.
Methodology of Research
We used several research methodologies to gain access to the organization. At the outset, personal interviews served as dominant tools for collecting information about the resistance of change from PIC. We used unstructured interviews to solicit general information about the perception of change in the organization. The methodology that was deployed involved an informal plan that generated ideas randomly.
These ideas were sorted out later to fit the exact purpose of this project. The group suggested the use of unstructured questionnaires since the employees resisted the implementation of change in PIC. As a result, we gathered adequate information regarding the challenge that the organization was facing since employees tend to offer sufficient and voluntary information in relaxed environments.
Secondly, our team used focus groups to obtain appropriate information on why PIC employees resisted the proposed change. The distinctiveness of the focus groups enabled our team to explore the crucial issues that affect PIC at the time of change execution.
The purpose of the team was to conduct specific information concerning the cause of change resistance. Our team chose focus groups to conduct effective research and facilitate the sharing of information with the company. The group retrieved the rest of the information from recent surveys and direct observations.
Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) is a leading chemical fertilizer producer in Kuwait. The company operates as a subsidiary of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation since the 1980s (Al Ateeqi 2009). Its top management comprises the strategy manager and the human resource manager who has recently conceded to take the company through a technological change to adopt paperless technology.
Their major role is to bridge the organization with the external business environment at both local and international arenas. Alongside the paperless technology, the company wishes to implement a new hierarchy and promotional system to enable the organization to achieve its strategic goals.
In an attempt to ensure the success of the implementation process, the strategy manager and the human resource manager have brought on board representatives from all departments of the organization. However, the team that was selected for the implementation of the change has inadequate knowledge about the suitable processes that lead to a successful organizational change.
This report reveals that the senior leaders have generally overestimated the implication that the planned change can have on the organizational structure and working relationships.
The effectiveness of the change process will entirely depend on change preparedness and the expression of the significance of change while weighing the costs and benefits to balance between employee interests and the achievement of strategic plans in the company. This situation led to different reactions by junior managers and employees of PIC.
This report reveals a variety of reasons that have led to resistance to change in the petrochemical company. These reasons have emerged from the step taken by the company to embrace paperless technology, execute a new hierarchy system, and establish an improved promotional strategy for PIC employees. In the beginning, some PIC employees have resisted the adoption of paperless expertise.
Regardless of the benefits that come with such technology such as increased efficiency and sustainable production processes, 14-percent of the respondents felt that the paperless system would be an expensive undertaking that would inflate the overall operational cost for the company while 58-percent feared to lose their jobs to the automated systems.
The integration of software solution in the organization might lead to the replacement of some staff members with computers. Some of the managers still hold that the usage of paper has many irreplaceable benefits that the automated paperless technology cannot substitute easily.
However, about 59-percent of the employees suggested that automated technology could not significantly reduce paper usage unless the company offered them adequate training to foster their knowledge about information systems. The remaining percentage resisted the technology in claims that the paperless technology would not eliminate the usage of paper because of the rapidly changing accounting technology and inadequacy of knowledge.
The employees dreaded the loss of status and general job insecurity. Battilana and Casciaro (2012) affirm that individuals fail to embrace change that poses harmful implications to their status quo. In this context, employees, peers, managers, and other stakeholders can offer significant resistance to both executive and technological developments that endanger their jobs.
The anticipated change at PIC will lead to the demotion of employees or elimination of others in the various subsections of the company. Technology has the capability to replace human efforts whilst ensuring high efficiency and time-effectiveness.
As for the company, there is a need to change from paperwork to automated accounting and other data recording systems to avoid piling huge chunks of paper material in offices. The human resource manager attests that the execution of the paperless technology will ultimately lead to retrenchment of employees and change of roles.
The study has also responded to the second hypothesis of this project. Indeed, PIC employees have resisted the change of the organizational hierarchy due to the fear of job elimination, reshuffling, and the reassignment of duties. Perhaps, the workers lack the knowledge about the professionalism that is required in different organizational levels.
The research reveals that most workers in the organization are experts in distinctive departments of the petrochemical company. Therefore, the introduction of new technology and reorganization of the operational structure might imply the termination of some activities, an event that will cost the jobs of several employees. As a result, most managers and employees have resisted the move to change the hierarchy.
Furthermore, PIC employees have refused to surrender to the company’s demands, concerning the anticipated promotional strategy owing to hierarchy-based dissimilarities amongst different levels of the organizational chain of command. The managers and employees fear reassignment and reorganization of duties within the organization as a way of promotion.
The company has structured its present hierarchy to have multiple professional groups and work units. During the research, we examined the perceptions of different groups of employees to establish how they conceptualized the change at both personal and organizational levels.
The results revealed that many employees did not only resist change due to interpersonal worry and hesitation, but also intergroup forces and influence at different hierarchy levels.
The study has also unveiled that most managers and employees have a short-term focus for the organization. Hence, according to them, there is no need to adopt new changes that will result in organizational disarray.
This situation is attributed to employee turnover rate in the organization. Owing to the prevailing employee turnover rate in the organization, workers tend to focus more on short-term objectives more than the long-term agenda of the organization. The organizational structure of PIC exhibits a poor representation of employee needs, a situation that has led to the declination of workforce confidence in the organization.
According to some of the repelling groups, the design and the planned execution of the organizational change have not accounted for the views of employees before the final implementation decision. They have also claimed that the design team should have sought opinions from all stakeholders before presentation of the action plan to preserve stakeholder interest.
According to Bovey and Hede (2001), ignorance of the views of stakeholder groups is an instance of poor leadership. In the context of PIC, the top management has failed to follow a practical strategy to convince employees that there is a dire need for organizational change in an attempt to improve the achievability of both personal and organizational goals.
Furthermore, the research has proved that some PIC employees are just too conservative, inflexible, and hesitant to relinquish the old job tricks. They have developed a general difficulty to adopt new production systems and organizational structures.
In an interview with the employees who have spent over 10 to 15 years in the organization, about 65-percent revealed that they would prefer the current managerial structure as well as the existing paper-based bookkeeping methods. This finding is an indication of disengagement from the historically valued operational structures, production techniques, and organizational principles.
However, the consideration of the preservation of obsolete organizational structure and policies will imply the insignificance of executing a change process in a conservative organization. Such inferences to change processes have no significance in the contemporary world where organizations have to maintain efficient and cost-effective production standards to satisfy the changing consumer patterns and unpredictable market trends.
The nature of a major change such as that of PIC has a profound impact on the structural and social facets of an organization. Organizational change influences a variety of organizational aspects such as working relationships, reporting lines, personal and intergroup boundaries, employee status, and social distinctiveness with reference to different levels of workers in the organizational hierarchy (Meier, Ben, & Schuppan 2013).
The desire to fit in the changing business climates and urge to gain a competitive advantage in dynamic markets compels organizations to design and execute change in an attempt to improve their efficiency in the various operational units. Nonetheless, researches have revealed that employees have a noticeable tendency of countering change regardless of its implications on the organization.
Although many factors lead to resistance of change in modern organizations, researchers have provided unclear reasons for the exact cause that compels employees to resist change. However, Mariana, Daniela, and Nadina (2013) posit that employees are more likely to resist change because of the foreseeable outcomes of the change rather than opposing the change itself.
In the PIC context, the implementation of new technology has a myriad of advantages such as automated accounting, efficiency, time-effectiveness, and conservation of the environment. However, employees seem worried about the aftermaths of implementing technology in the production process.
Indeed, there is a likelihood that paperless technology will replace some of the accounting jobs as well as other bookkeeping jobs in the organization. Employees have defied the change owing to the lose of employment and reassignment of tasks. The research proves that employees focus on the negative effects of the change to favor self-interests rather than the positive implications that come with change (Allen et al. 2013).
Generally, PIC employees revealed similar reasons for resisting changes as exposed to other change resistance studies. This report has identified several issues that have led to the development of resistance amongst PIC employees. The company follows an old managerial system that comprises old-fashioned staff members. As a result, there is a practice of conservatism amongst managers to preserve the historical structure of the company.
In this context, leadership behavior has led to the development of conservatives within the petrochemical company. Nevertheless, the process of change requires the support of employees. Consequently, the organization’s leaders should provide adequate support to the employees by the use of appropriate change management models to influence their actions towards change (Mariana & Violeta 2011).
The authors posit that employees hypothesize the concept of change variably based on group or individual differences. Previous researches on the resistance of change have failed to feature the feedback of different groups of employees who have been deployed in the organizational structures.
The work environment has a lot to do with the perceptions of work units more than it does with individual perceptions. Therefore, the nature of workforce units will become a threat to the execution of change if change strategists and managers fail to take account of employee needs adequately.
Attitudes and Feelings
Also, PIC employees exposed various attitudes and feelings towards the anticipated change. According to the research, 40-percent of the respondents seemed to understand the implications of change on the accomplishment of organizational goals. This group of respondents reported long-term benefits of change that outweighed the few challenges that the workforce experienced immediately after the execution of change.
Nevertheless, 60-percent of the respondents perceived change as an obstacle to the fulfillment of personal goals in the organization. Indeed, Burchell (2011) reveals that many employees conceive change as a threat to the progression of employment. A majority of the workers dreaded retrenchment or demotion in case the management accomplished the change process.
Also, the restructuring of the organizational hierarchy will result in downsizing and undesirable modifications of roles and statuses. However, these negative anticipations are born out of intrinsic speculation due to the fear of the unknown. For instance, some of the employees fear the introduction of new managers in their work sections.
Furthermore, workers exhibit uncertainty of the new structure and the kind of technology that will guarantee them job security. The change of organizational structures implies the adaptation of new values as employees expect different job obligations and abilities.
Therefore, change managers bear the challenge of merging old organizational values with new values during the implementation of change to preserve the prevailing work environment. Conservation of organizational values serves as facilitation for affirmative reactions to organizational change in the future (Jones et al. 2013).
Impact of Hierarchy Change
PIC employees had developed anxieties over the distraction of intergroup relationships that could emerge because of the implementation of the new hierarchy in the organization. Generally, employees dread top-down strategies towards the restructuring of the organization. Jones et al. (2013) reveal that top-down restructuring strategies entail minimization of costs. The implication of this situation is a reduction of the workforce.
Under such circumstances, employees resist change in two different ways. First, they fear retrenchment that may befall them in case of hierarchy change. New managers tend to maintain the active performance of supervision and appraisal roles. Employees fear instances of reappraisals that may lead to termination of employment.
Secondly, the likeness of remaining in the job raises the risk of performing additional tasks to maintain the same operational efficiency and level of production. Burchell (2011) asserts that downsizing an organization’s workforce usually presents distressing effects on the residual groups.
Eventually, such employees develop the paranoia of failure owing to lack of confidence in task performance. However, workers develop reservations because they worry about their abilities to cope with new work environments and responsibilities.
Poor communication of change has significantly contributed to change resistance among the various work units in the organization. As revealed in the study, approximately 43-percent of the total number of respondents was unaware of the impending change process, a situation that strengthened resistance amongst the members of this population.
The management of the company has failed to develop a sound communication channel to circulate information among its employee groups. Among the interviewed employees, about 51-percent neither understood the reasons nor the objectives and benefits of the change. Failure of proper communication has inhibited the flow of information between the various stakeholder groups of PIC.
Consequently, some employees have resisted change since the management has deprived them of the necessary information and significance of the impending change process.
According to Mariana, Daniela, and Nadina (2013), the breakage of communication amongst interacting groups within an organization results in organizational chaos that in turn fuel misunderstanding and decrement of confidence amongst them. In the context of this report, PIC management has led to the disengagement of employees from the change even before its actual execution process.
Inadequate Training to Support Change
The training levels of employees determine their self-confidence during their performance of tasks (Jones et al. 2013). The research has revealed that most of the employees at PIC have insufficient knowledge about the paperless technology that the company desires to implement. The study has exposed that the management has failed to train the employees to foster change preparedness.
As a result, the employees have developed fear and doubt about their capacities to undertake new roles in the organization. Mariana, Daniela, and Nadina (2013) attest that knowledge inadequacy becomes a source of misunderstanding during the implementation of change.
Unprepared employees resist change based on worthless reasons that reveal their fear of the unknown. Likewise, inadequate training deters the flow of information from the top management to the lower organizational levels.
Based on the research, our team has come up with numerous recommendations that PIC can adopt to resolve the issue of resistance to change. At the start, the management should ensure that all employees actively take part in the process of executing the change (Mariana & Violeta 2011). The authors suggest that such workers should participate in all decision-making processes concerning changes that have a direct influence on their roles as employees.
Indeed, it is hard for employees to defy a change process because of their own decisions. Before the implementation of change, change strategists and managers should bring probable opponents of change in the decision-making process.
However, the involvement of the employees in the decision-making process is based on an assumption that they possess the necessary expertise to generate a worthwhile contribution that enables the change managers to reduce resistance, gain more dedication to change, and augment the superiority of the change choice.
Nonetheless, regardless of whether the employees have the expertise or not, their involvement in decision-making processes heightens the conceptualization of the change in terms of its objectives and the benefits to both the employees and the entire organization.
Jones et al. (2013) posit that with the presence of employees, decision-makers can easily manipulate the change decisions in an attempt to make them desirable whilst suppressing the undesirable information. Therefore, PIC should consider the participation of employees in the formulation of decisions with reference to the implementation of change to curtail instances of blatant resistance.
The purpose of involving employees in the decision-making process does not necessarily imply that leaders seek improved decisions from them. Rather, they seek ratification of their decisions by the employees as a way of making them accept change, which they would have otherwise resisted (Mariana, Daniela, & Nadina 2013).
Secondly, PIC executives, directors, and the human resource manager should initiate an effective communication process to ensure that all employees gain access to information and understanding of the organizational needs that drive it to embrace change strategies. There is a need to increase individual and intergroup communication and relationships to change the behavior and attitudes of the employees towards organizational change.
According to Mariana and Violeta (2011), improvement of individual and group interactions results in amplified affirmative sentiments. The overall result of communicating to employees is the validation of socially shared ideologies within organizations, which enhance a common understanding of the significance of embracing change to meet the needs of an organization.
Moreover, communication serves as a powerful tool for empowerment, negotiation, and manipulation of employee decisions to promote change. Jones et al. (2013) posit that effective communication can relieve employees from unsettling behavior that comes with change processes.
The time of communication and articulation of change concepts to keep employees fully engaged to the change process is crucial. Sufficient discussions that involve the contribution of employees minimize the chances of resistance to change.
As per the research, PIC rarely conducts capacity building and training programs to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge about change by the employees.
Therefore, our team recommends that the organization should initiate capacity building and training programs to enable managers and employees gain requisite knowledge and skills concerning the new changes. The training should focus on developing staff members who can initiate and manage change by shifting their roles and workloads where applicable to accommodate adjustments in the organization.
The organization should develop workshop programs to accomplish and foster skills and knowledge improvements concerning change management practices and resistance to change. The purpose of workshops is to acquaint managers with the requisite framework, information, and suitable tools that are necessary for piloting and management of employee groups during the implementation of change (Burchell 2011).
The author emphasizes that change management training using workshops has successfully facilitated the management of change resistance at times of change execution. Indeed, workshops equip both managers with a vivid knowledge of the workability of change processes at both individual and organizational levels.
Managers also get to understand the different reactions of employees towards change. Consequently, they can curtail change distress on employees, hence reducing hesitation and increasing the likelihood of change adoption.
Finally, this project recommends the use of incentives, motivation, and comprehensive reward programs that PIC can associate with the implementation of changes in an attempt to minimize the chances of resistance. Managers at PIC can use motivation, rewards, and incentives to manage change in the company (Meier, Ben, & Schuppan 2013). The authors stress that incentives create a correlation between people and change.
The achievement of improved performance in an organization through the development of motivational and reward systems increases the chances of affirmative response for change processes. Incentives, whether monetary or non-monetary, form a strong foundation for human resource managers to accomplish change.
A study conducted by Jones et al. (2013) showed that the most successful managers of change used the appropriate incentives to maintain their employees motivated as a way of minimizing the resistance of change in their organizations. Therefore, we recommend PIC to start a reward and incentive-based program to maintain a highly motivated staff that will accept any future change in the
The project has discussed the causes and probable solutions to change resistance based on a study of Kuwait’s Petroleum Industries Company (PIC), which has experienced resistive forces to change from the employees. Modern organizations require a change to fit in the ever-changing consumer demands and dynamic markets. Therefore, the need for change is inevitable for organizations.
Despite the negative reactions that many employees exhibit at times of change, managers of change have to stand their grounds to seek holistic approaches to change management. Stakeholder participation, communication, training, and capacity building, and the use of incentives, and motivational programs are universal techniques that any organization can deploy to counter resistance to change from employees.
These processes prepare employees for the adoption of change without inherent confrontation. Researchers have confirmed that the necessity of change in organizations continues to elevate, as the business processes become more complex. Nonetheless, researchers have to provide more insights into future inferences regarding resistance and the best ways to eliminate such challenges.
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