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Deconstructing resistance to organizational change – A social representation theory approach
University of Skövde, School of Business. University of Skövde, Enterprises for the Future. (Strategiskt Entreprenörskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5408-413X
University of Skövde, School of Health and Education. University of Skövde, Health and Education. (Utbildningsvetenskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5306-7012
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Organizational Analysis, ISSN 1934-8835, E-ISSN 1758-8561, Vol. 22, no 3, 342-355 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - Social representation theory (SRT) is a growing theory in social psychology research. SRT is about how individuals co-construct representations of various objects in different social settings. These social representations govern the attitudes and actions of individuals and groups. In spite of the growing interest in SRT in various fields, no studies have used SRT to understand resistance to organizational change. Thus, the purpose of this work is to illustrate how SRT can be used to understand the concept of resistance to change.

Design/methodology/approach - Review of the relevant literature on resistance to change and SRT in order to develop a conceptual framework for understanding resistance from the standpoint of SRT.

Findings - We develop a model that illustrates how three interrelated objects, i.e. the organizational process and the pre- and post-change situation, are co-constructed in social contexts. Also, we discuss how representations of these objects can co-exist (cognitive polyphasia). Our study illustrates the complexity of resistance to change by deconstructing the concept.

Originality/value - Application of SRT in order to analyze resistance to organizational change is a novel approach that provides several new insights. For example, whereas most publications regard advocates of change as sense-givers in the change recipient’s sense-making process, we argue for a more constructionist approach. Thus, all actors involved in the change process will affect each other and together co-construct the social representations. These social representations govern attitudes to change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014. Vol. 22, no 3, 342-355 p.
Keyword [en]
Sense-making, Organizational change, Social representations, Cognitive polyphasia, Social representation theory
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-9686DOI: 10.1108/IJOA-04-2012-0582ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84925846950OAI: diva2:734630
Available from: 2014-07-18 Created: 2014-07-18 Last updated: 2016-06-03Bibliographically approved

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