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Study Notes

Change Management - Why Change is Resisted (Kotter & Schlesinger)

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

There are many reasons why change is resisted by people working in business. This study note outlines the four main reasons as identified by Kotter & Schlesinger.


Self-interest is a powerful motivator

Arises from a perceived threat to job security, status and financial position

Understandable - why would you want to lose something you believe to be valuable?

Individuals often place their own interests ahead of those of their organisation, particularly if they don't feel a strong loyalty to it

Misinformation & Misunderstanding

People don’t understand why change is needed, perhaps because they are misinformed about the real strategic position of the business

Perception may be widespread that there is no compelling reason for change

Perhaps even an element of people fooling themselves that things are better than they really are

Different Assessment of the Situation

Here there is disagreement about the need for change or what that change needs to be

Some people may simply disagree with the change proposed, or they may feel they have a better solution

This is different from “self-interest” – the resistance here is based on disagreement about what is best for the business

Low Tolerance and Inertia

Many people suffer from inertia or reluctance to change, preferring things to stay “the way they are”

Many people need security, predictability & stability in their work

If there is low tolerance of change (perhaps arising from past experience) then resistance to change may grow

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