Topic: Change Management
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: Resources for change: The relationships of organizational inducements and psychological resilience to employees’ attitudes and behaviors toward organizational change
Authors: J. Shin, M.S. Taylor, M. Seo
Reviewed by: Kecia Bingham
Although change is common among organizations, successful organizational change is far from typical. Why the low rate of success, you ask? Well there are likely a number of contributing factors, but research increasingly cites the importance of the often ignored, but invaluable resource called employees—specifically employee attitudes and behavioral reactions to change. A study by Shin and colleagues extends previous research on organizational change by highlighting organizational inducements (i.e., valued tangible and intangible outcomes employee receive in exchange for contributing to organizational performance) and psychological resilience (i.e., a trait-like ability to recover from adversity and adapt to shifting demands) as resources that can be developed over time before organizational change begins, and examines the mechanism by which these resources affect employees’ commitment to change and change behaviors (e.g., support for change and turnover).
The authors used survey data collected during three time periods (over a 22 month period) from 234 employees and 45 managers at an IT company in South Korea undergoing large-scale organizational change. Results indicated that employees who perceived themselves as having received high levels of organizational inducements (e.g., career development, open communication with management, good healthcare benefits, competitive salary) tended to have high normative (i.e., support stemming from feeling a sense of obligation to an organization) and affective (i.e., support stemming from belief about benefits associated with the change) commitment to change because those resources helped them develop a state positive affect (i.e., transitory positive emotions) and a high-quality social exchange (i.e., ongoing interaction based on mutual trust and obligation) relationship with the organization. Also, employees with high resilience tended to express high normative and affective commitment to change because of the high positive affect they experienced during the change. While both types of employee commitment to change had direct positive relationships with behavioral (i.e., demonstrated employee support for change above what is required) and creative (i.e., provision of innovative ideas consistent with the spirit of the change) support for change, as assessed by work unit managers, normative commitment had a stronger relationship that existed beyond the effects of affective commitment to change. Moreover, employees with high normative commitment to change were less likely to voluntarily leave the company compared to those with low normative commitment.
Based upon results, four practical implications for managers were noted. First, it is important for managers to be aware of the importance of employee commitment to and engagement in organizational change. Results show how employee commitment relates to demonstrated discretionary behaviors that can affect change implementation. Second, organizations should consider providing high levels of organizational inducements before initiating change to enhance employee commitment to change. In other words, companies would do well to be proactive rather than reactive to employee attitudes and behaviors towards change. Third, employee psychological resilience should be considered as a criterion for selection and/or as content area of training interventions. Reportedly, resilience can be developed through training and social support. Fourth, managers can enhance employee commitment to change and behavioral reactions to it by building employee positive affect and social exchange (e.g., using words that express optimism and enthusiasm when discussing the change).
Shin, J., Taylor, M.S., & Seo, M. (2012). Resources for change: The relationships of organizational inducements and psychological resilience to employees’ attitudes and behaviors toward organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(3), 727-748.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management