Can an Organizational Culture Be Changed?


Implementing change is an indispensable organizational procedure that plays a foremost role in ensuring organizational efficiency. Implementing change is not an easy task and requires well-laid procedures and a strategic planning approach. One of the significant driving factors that could compel business enterprises to implement change processes is the need to keep up with the dynamic nature of the market and generally to foster an organizational culture that matches the present management trends (William 2003). Presently, the working environment is experiencing dynamism associated with globalization, advancements in technology, and increasing organizational mergers; this forms part of the need to implement change in an organization.

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It is evident that business enterprises can no longer rely on the traditional, predictable pattern of business operations (Kotler 1996). The new organizational trend is unpredictable and continuous change. The change process is usually because of innovation at the organizational level; this, therefore, implies that an organization that is stagnant in terms of execution of the organizational processes is in dire need of implementation of change. This essay attempts to evaluate the possibility of achieving change in organizational culture. In order to gain an insight into the topic at hand, the essay will highlight the various reasons for implementing change within an organization, factors that hinder organizational change, and the appropriate strategies for overcoming change resistance within an organization.

The need to implement change within an organization

Organizational change is a critical success factor for any organization. The past business environments of yesterday are in no way similar to the present business environments, and so will be the future (Robinsons 2008). This implies that organizations are faced with the challenge of ensuring that their change strategies are effective according to the current business requirements and the nature of the business environment. Organizational change can be driven by factors such as the need to have changes in terms of the organizational culture and operational changes (Hill & Jones 2007). The major driving factor that compels an organization to change is the need to meet the increasing client demands and to streamline the business processes with the current technological platforms and recent trends in organizational culture. Change can also be initiated by the need to intensify employee productivity, the need to reduce the expenses incurred by the business enterprise in order to increase its profitability, and most importantly, the business enterprise needs to sustain itself amidst the challenges associated with the dynamic technological advances and the changing business environment (Petch 2009).

The most appropriate approach to evaluate whether organizational culture can be changed is to outline the possible hindrance to the change process and the various strategies that organizations can use in order to overcome such barriers to organizational culture change. A critical analysis of the barriers to effective organizational change and the change implementation process results in the development of an efficient change implementation process, which can foster the success of change implementation in an organization. The following section discusses some of the significant barriers to the effective implementation of organizational culture change (Robinsons 2008).

Although organizational change being a solution to most of the problems that are experienced in the current structure of the organization, the key challenge during its implementation is change resistance. Therefore, this implies that the change implementation strategy should put into consideration the issues associated with change resistance in order to eliminate the risk factors associated with resistance to change. It is important to note most individuals are not receptive to change, solely because they do not like being subjected to new environments and the challenges that are associated with implementing change, such as the long durations for adaptability and the need to alter the organizational culture that was part of them (Robinsons 2008). Within the organization, people perceive the adoption of change as a more risky venture than the present state of affairs. With such perception, it is difficult to motivate people to embrace the change that they do not know the outcome of (Alkhafaji 2003).

Another significant reason for change resistance within the organization is that people are somewhat connected to the present system, and they are more used to the present state of affairs; initiating change is therefore bound to cause tension within the organization and will instill an element of resistance towards the implementation of the change of any perspective (Robinsons 2008). Observational learning is a significant aspect of change that an organization should never underestimate, lest it is exposed to the risks associated with change implementation. Even a well-articulated vision for change is subject to resistance. People within an organization are always threatened by the idea of organizational change since it will have an influence on the way they execute their daily tasks within the organization. With every change, there are bound to be winners and losers; losers tend to be affected negatively by the implementation of change, such as loss of jobs, salary cuts, and organizational restructuring (Robinsons 2008). Therefore, losers are bound to be more resistant towards the implementation of change in that context. Therefore, it is important for the change implementation strategy to develop an effective measure that can be used to counter the possible causes of change resistance. The following section outlines the strategies that can be implemented to overcome change resistance within an organization in order to facilitate the achievement of organizational change (Kotler 1996).

Strategies for overcoming change resistance within the organization

Change motivation is one of the most significant approaches that a change strategy should put into consideration. In fostering motivation for change, the management should outline the various drawbacks that are associated with the current system and the proposed benefits that are bound to be realized to the organization in case it adopts change. It is important to outline the proposed benefits that the members of the organization will realize (Petch 2009). This helps in the creation of a perception that the proposed change not only considers the organization’s needs but also the needs of the individuals within the organization. Such an approach is bound to reduce the resistance that may be witnessed due to change implementation.

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This can only be achieved through effective communication. This involves the education of people in the organization concerning the change that is to be implemented. Effective communication provides the employees with a framework through which they can access the benefits associated with the implementation of change; this can make them see the logic that is associated with the change to be implemented. It also helps in the elimination of the unfounded rumors concerning the effects associated with the organizational change. What this implies is that it is important to outline the potential outcome of the change and the affected parties. The change strategy should also put into consideration the various ways through which they handle the affected individuals. For instance, in cases of job lay-offs, individuals can be sent off by hefty packages or reassigned elsewhere. Education and communication, therefore, serves as a motivation for the employees to embrace change. Therefore, it plays a significant role in reducing resistance to organizational change (Robinsons 2008).

It is also imperative that the change process be gradual. Rapid and static changes in the organization structure are subject to resistance. Gradual changes in the organization provide an opportunity for employees in the organization to adapt to the new system, at the same time keeping them attached to the old system. It is important for the management to state that the change is not an overhaul of the current system but just a modification or an improvement on the current system that is aimed at enhancing organizational and individual productivity. Gradual change can be effectively implemented through incorporating change procedures that offer facilitation and required support.

This is important in cases whereby the resistance to change is primarily due to difficulties in adjustments (Robinsons 2008). The change management procedures have to incorporate supportive services during the transition period in order for the change to be a success. Supportive transitional services that can be implemented can include employee training, appropriate counseling, and providing an avenue through which they can express their views concerning the implemented organizational change. The changing approach should therefore be gradual in order to eliminate the resistances associated with the acceptance of the proposed change based on adaptability. Another important aspect of the gradual change procedure is that it provides an avenue through which the effects of the change to the organization can be evaluated and appropriate steps undertaken in order to curb any potential risks (Petch 2009).

Resistance to change by the employees within the organization can also be eliminated through initiating participative change methodology. The participation and involvement of the employees in the change process play a significant role in eliminating change resistance. In addition, their involvement enhances their motivation towards embracing the change because they would have a well-informed knowledge concerning the consequences of the change adoption or rejection to them and the organization as a whole. In cases where the initiators of change have no complete information concerning the change design, it is important to involve the employees in gathering information concerning the areas that need significant changes and the ways in which they perceive the implementation of the proposed change. It is also imperative that the top-level management should display some commitment towards the change in order to reduce instances of change resistance within the organization (Petch 2009).

One of the most effective strategies for combating change resistance is through the implementation of a change strategy that is bound to develop a strong organizational culture. A strong organizational culture means that the organizational operations and activities favor the realization of the organization’s goals and objectives. This involves informing the employees within the organization of the significance of adopting change as important in determining the organizational performance. The change strategy should therefore attempt to streamline the business processes, the employees, and the organizational goals and objectives. Integration of these three organizational elements plays a significant role in overcoming the change resistance at the organization (Petch 2009).

The above strategies do not usually guarantee that change will not be resisted. There are some cases where the above tactics will not work. Kotler (1996) suggests that in such cases, the most effective approaches are manipulation, whereby a change strategy deploys the use of co-option in getting those employees resisting change to abide by change. One such approach is giving those resisting change a chance in the decision-making process during the change process, without having to impair the change process. Manipulation and co-option usually serve as an incentive to those resisting change in an organization. Coercion also compels employees to withdraw their resistance to change. This is achieved through outlining the consequences to the individual of failure to embrace the change. Threats such as job losses, transfers, and firing can be deployed to get the employees to embrace the change (Kotler 1996).


The achievement of effective organizational change is only possible with the deployment of effective change strategies. In addition, failure to adopt organizational change jeopardizes the existence of the organization, implying that organizational change is necessary during the course of existence for an organization. The underlying argument is that organizational culture change is possible with the use of appropriate change strategies such as top management commitment, employee motivation, and a well-articulated vision for the implementation of change. Effective organizational change should incorporate concepts such as leadership as a key requirement for sustaining change in an organization, having a clearly stated vision and a plan of approach, availability of viable alternatives, evaluation of appropriate technology, and fostering organizational culture change. The extent to which these concepts are applied depends on the scope and limitations of the change to be implemented and the level of complexity of the organization.

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Alkhafaji, A 2003, Strategic management: formulation, implementation, and control in a dynamic environment, London: Routledge.

Bridges, W 2003, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, New York: Cambrige.

Hill, C & Jones, G 2007, Strategic Management: An Integrative Approach, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Kotler, J 1996, Leading change, London: Harvard Business School Press.

Petch, A 2009, Managing transitions: support for individuals at key points of change, New York: The Policy Press.

Robinsons, S 2008, Foundation of management, New York: Prentice Hall.

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