From resistance to relational inertia

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Abstract

Empirical evidence have built up that shows that the concept of “resistance to change” does not fully explain the varied types of reactions found among recipients of organizational change initiatives. Instead of being only negative some change recipients reactions have been found to be positive or potentially positive and constructive. The traditional idea that managers manage change which is implemented top-down and which employees resist is questioned by other researchers and are being replaced by more processual views that view such processes as sense-making, translation or local organizing processes and thus as social and relational rather than psychological phenomena. This have led some researchers to suggest that the definition of resistance to change have to be reformulated and others to suggest that the term “resistance to change” should either be reformulated in terms of sensemaking or improvisational organizing processes or be abandoned all together. This paper develops a view on difficulties related to organizational change processes that represents an alternative view to the “resistance- to- change” types of theorizing and other types of “barriers to change” views. Taking actor-network-theory as a point of departure a new concept – relational inertia – is developed. In this view change agents are theorized as translators who interacts with humans as well as non-humans (objects) in order to construct different types of socio-technical systems which are constructed to perform certain “wished-for” effects in practice. Instead of theorizing difficulties related to the change and development process as “resistance” or “barriers to change” etc. they are understood as outcomes of the types of relations and interactions that are established or created between humans as well as “non-humans” in a change process where a certain type of performative socio-technical system is created. The paper contains an empirical analysis of the introduction af a risk-management system aimed at preventing risks related to clinical pathways in an Ortopedic clinic which demonstrates the different types of relational inertia that had to be handled in order to succeed with constructing a performative socio-technical risk-management system in practice. Finally it is discussed how this view supplements the resistance to change view and other views with a focus on barriers to change.
Translated title of the contributionFra modstand imod forandring til relationel inerti
Original languageEnglish
Publication date16 Sep 2014
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2014
Event9th Organization Studies Workshop: Resistance, Resisting and Resisters in and Around Organizations - Corfu Holiday Palace, Corfu, Greece
Duration: 22 May 201424 May 2014

Workshop

Workshop9th Organization Studies Workshop
LocationCorfu Holiday Palace
Country/TerritoryGreece
CityCorfu
Period22/05/201424/05/2014

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