Dynamic change process : how do cognitive readiness drivers inform change agents on employee behavioural change intention

  • Karl Kilian Konrad Wiener

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    It is well accepted by now that most change initiatives are unsuccessful even though more organisations are experiencing change as they fight to retain and improve their competitiveness in the market place. It is against this background of change failure that researchers have looked for new strategies to improve change outcomes. Theoretical models conceptualising the dynamic change process advise on better change strategies, but little empirical evidence has demonstrated that these models are effective in improving change implementation outcomes. Theoretical models were also developed to counter change resistance, but little emphasis has been placed on employee change readiness. Some empirical research on employee change readiness explores employees' perception of organisational readiness, but no empirical research has explored employee readiness from a psychological perspective. That is, how to create change readiness in employees. This thesis has contributed to both the theoretical and empirical understanding of the change readiness model. Firstly, the theoretical readiness for change model Armenakis et al.'s (1993,2002) was extended by the inclusion of the 'understanding of the change' driver. Secondly, this change readiness model was empirically tested on two distinct organisational changes: organisational restructure and IT change. The extended model is also examined for two change stages of the dynamic process to identify which readiness drivers should be prioritised by change agents. Two online questionnaires were administered eight months apart assessing the responses to three change stages (planning, implementation and post-implementation) of employees - supervisors and subordinates - of a flat structured organisation in the human resource industry. At the two measurement points 189 and 141 employees returned completed surveys. Six employee readiness drivers were operationalised and regressed against behavioural change intention. The quantitative findings using regression models across two change types and longitudinally did not identify a specific change pattern. However, all six readiness drivers including the 'understanding of the change' driver were influential on employees' behavioural change intention. Furthermore, statistical differences between supervisors and subordinates were identified in the organisational restructure change. The quantitative findings using a triangulation approach with qualitative date including data from two unstructured interviews and employee comments further validated the quantitative findings. The thematic analysis of the employee comments enhanced the findings and identified employee specific concerns including information dissemination of the changes and a level of uncertainty. The findings supported Armenakis et al.'s (1993,2002) theoretical contribution that change readiness drivers are an important part of the organisational change process explaining why employee do and do not change. The empirical application of readiness change driver evaluation during the dynamic change is supported as it permits change agents to directly monitor employees' readiness perception of a specific change target. This valuable information finds practical utilisation for change agents in providing targeted guidance and support for employees thus facilitating a greater likelihood of a positive change outcome. Implications of these findings and future research opportunities are discussed.
    Date of Award2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDeborah Ann Blackman (Supervisor) & Alice Richardson (Supervisor)

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