Resisting change: Organizational decoupling through an identity construction perspective

Konstantinos Pitsakis, Marina Biniari, Thijs Kuin

Tutkimustuotos: LehtiartikkeliArticleScientificvertaisarvioitu


– The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework that explains how individual organizational members' self‐construction processes motivate them to support or reject decoupling as a form of resistance to institutionally mandated change.

– Most studies have looked at powerful organizational actors and top management teams that decide to decouple. This paper broadens the understanding through a micro‐level approach that focuses on the role of individual members within organizations. Specifically, it looks at what happens inside organizations after the decision to decouple has been taken.

– This paper identifies three alternative self‐identity construction pathways that members may choose following the decision of an organization to decouple: strong identification with the organization; strong identification with the institutional pressure; and adoption of both organizational and institutional identities. The framework specifies how and under which conditions the way individuals identify and manage identity multiplicity impacts organizational resistance to change.

Research limitations/implications
– Future research could test the proposed framework particularly through case studies or qualitative designs that look deep into organizational processes and individual attitudes towards decoupling.

Practical implications
– Practitioners, particularly top management teams, can adopt a moderating role in influencing the identification process of their employees. They can also communicate better why efficiency is more important than the mandated changes, and why decoupling must be supported to safeguard the organization's “efficient” identity.

– The paper integrates institutional theory's macro‐perspectives with micro‐perspectives of individual members' identity and self‐construction processes within organizations. It contributes to existing institutional accounts of agentic change and resistance to change through a dynamic framework that prescribes individual interests and preferences based on identification processes.
JulkaisuJournal of Organizational Change Management
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - 2013
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Julkaistu artikkeli, soviteltu


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