Theme 3



Theme 3 – Managing change

How change models help to define the steps managers use to manage change effectively

Change is the only constant in life, and there is little that people can do to avoid change, both in personal life and within organizations where they work (Shere, 2006). Nevertheless, the difference appears in the manner in which people respond to change, with some being open to the new challenges that change brings although others react to changing through resisting it (Cervone, 2011). However, at the same time that Mullins (2010) shows that there is little the management can do about resistance to change, the fact is that management is the core driver of the changing process within an organization, and thus there is a lot that the management can do to enhance the success of the changing process (Martincic, 2010).

According to Mullins (2010) shows that the management has little it can do about resistance to change, it is apparent that the management cannot force change on the organizational stakeholders such as the employees, considering that change has to begin from within (Shao-His, Ying-Fang and Shao-Wen, 2012). Whenever a change is externally driven, it will result to resistance and where resistance is not obvious, those will destroy the change process opposed to it. The organization may lose its valuable assets in the quitting employees (Phillips, 1983).




Nevertheless, to demonstrate against the statement by Mullins (2010), it is clear that the management can do a lot about resistance to change within an organization. This principle can be demonstrated well by the case “Remaking JC Penney’s Organizational Culture,” where Ullman, who was appointed to the position of the chairman and CEO of JC Penney Corporation in 2004, had an elaborate plan on how he could introduce change to the organization, through making the organization a great work place for the employees (ICMR, 2007). However, he was faced with much resistance, considering that the organization had a culture of rigidity and formal employee relationship cross over the past 100 years (ICMR, 2007). The rigid rules of addressing the managers formally and dressing rigorously in accordance with the organizational dress code had made the environment in the organization tense.

This happened to the inability of the organization to attract new talent or maintain new people, while the employee turnover increased (ICMR, 2007). After Ullman and the newly hired human resource manager, Michael Theilmann started a culture of flexibility that was established through the campaign to have the employees relax the strict rules. The new strategy entailed the employees start addressing the managers informally with their first name. Eventually, the situation in the organization changed, and the organization became a familiar working environment, resulting to high employee productivity and low turnover, while the organization was able to attract new talents (ICMR, 2007).



The managers have an important role to play in directing resistance to change. The Lewin’s Three-Stage Process of Change model is illustrated what managers should do to work out change resistance. According to this model, change introduction has to go though the three process of unfreeze, involving first dismantling the existing organizational cultures that resistance to change (Burnes, 2004). This is followed by introducing a new culture that make the organization to higher performance, a process known as change, and finally solidify the new tradition and culture, which eventually becomes the new identity of the organization, a process known as refreeze (Burnes, 2004). This management role in managing and overcoming resistance to change was illustrated well by the management style of Ullman who became the new chairman and CEO of JC Penney in 2004 (ICMR, 2007).

Ullman applied The Lewin’s Three-Stage Process of Change model, starting with unfreeze phase, where he destroyed the rigid culture of the JC Penney Corporation, through introducing the informal culture of relationship between the employees and the managers.  He followed this with the change phase of the Lewin’s model, where he moulded a new organization culture the way he wants, through making the informal association culture emerge as the ultimate source of strength for the employees and managers. Finally, he took the change process to the third and final stage of refreeze, where a new culture was solidified and became the new identity of JC Penney Corporation. This made it possible to attract for the organization to become a friendly workplace, and eventually it attracted enough talent (ICMR, 2007).

Resistance is an essential strength in the change process, considering that it assists to delay change and gives the introducers of change time to reflect on the benefits and the limitation associated with the change (Dervitsiotis, 1998). In this way, the change process is made continuous, allowing it to put into consideration the diverse interests of all the stakeholders (French, 2013). In conclusion, even though change is disruptive and, therefore, may bring more resistance, the change process can be successful if the managers apply the right way.


Reference List

Burnes (2004). ‘Kurt Lewin and the Planned Approach to Change: A Re-appraisal’, Journal of Management Studies 41(6), 18-35.

Center for Management Research (ICMR). (2007) ‘Remaking JC Penney’s Organizational Culture’, 1-20.

Cervone (2011). Overcoming resistance to change in digital library projects. OCLC Systems & Services, 27(2), 95-98.

Dervitsiotis  (1998). The challenge of managing organizational change: Exploring the relationship of re-engineering. Total Quality Management, 9(1), 109-122.

French (2013). Training for Change: Saving Lives on the Front End. Fire Engineering, 166(4), 135-138.

Martinčič (2010). Change Management in Adult Educational Organizations: A Slovenian Case Study. Managing Global Transitions: International Research Journal, 8(1), 79-96.

Mullins (2010) Management & Organisational Behaviour (9th ed). London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Phillips (1983). “Enhancing the effectiveness of organizational change management”. Human Resource Management 22 (1–2): 183–99.

Shao, Ying and Shao (2012). The impact of cognitive flexibility on resistance to organizational change. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 40(5), 735-745.

Shere (2006). Managing Cultural Changes in Your Organization. Crosstalk: The Journal Of Defense Software Engineering, 19(4), 9-13.



3 thoughts on “Theme 3

  1. It’s great !!
    Based to the case you have explain how manger change JC Penny to success and how the change process .
    However, you can also consider the change in technology, market force and also globalisation

    • Hello, thank you for your comment.
      i will give more examples about technology, market and globalisation aspect in the future.
      The tutor also mention that during the classes.

  2. Your arguments for resistance to change is quite strong, but as your used apparent twice in here, ” it is apparent that the management cannot force change on the organizational stakeholders such as the employees, considering that change has to emanate from within (Shao-His, Ying-Fang and Shao-Wen, 2012). Whenever change is externally driven, it will result to resistance and where resistance is not apparent”. Specially the second context which I didnt follow, could you please explain me as a explaining to a naive person?

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