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By Timothy Nolan, Ph.D., Leonard Goodstein, Ph.D., and J. William Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Change is in the eye of the beholder. If the beholders have initiated the change, then it is "logical," "rational," and "well thought out." If the beholders perceive the change as being done to them or if they disagree with the change, it is illogical, irrational, and improperly conceived. How many people do you know who were delighted at a a change that put their jobs at risk? And how many do you know who refused an organizational restructuring that increased their scope of responsibilities, and, not incidentally, their remuneration?

The Need For Homeostasis
We can see resistance to change as an effort to maintain homeostasis, or the status quo, which is almost always seen as more comfortable than an unknown future brought about by some unasked-for change process. One of the strongest human motives is the drive toward homeostasis. To accommodate this drive, organizational change needs to be carefully planned and managed.

Individuals vary in their appreciation of the need for change and in their tolerance for accepting change, and these differences are important to consider in planning any organizational change effort. It appears that each person has an optimal need for change or variety. If the amount of change in a person's life is less than optimal, the person will intentionally seek a change or some variety. If, on the other hand, there is too much change in a person's life, he or she will strenuously resist any additional change.

Organizational change efforts that follow long periods of stability are less likely to be resisted than those that follow periods of turbulence. And even after periods of stability, there will be some
individuals who are low in their appreciation of the need for change who will resist that change and be rather intolerant of efforts to advance that change.


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