Overcoming Compliance to Change: Dynamics of Power, Obedience, and Resistance in a Classroom Restructure

2020-07-29T22:56:51Z (GMT) by Todd Bridgman
Resistance to change is a central topic in the study of change management, with resistance by employees often portrayed as an inevitable and undesirable response to planned change that managers must attempt to overcome. While resistance can be detrimental to organizations, it can also be beneficial, by prompting deeper analysis of a change, or by preventing an ill-advised or unethical one. Yet it might be difficult for employees to voice their concerns about change, especially if implemented from the top down, because of the power relationships involved. This simple classroom activity, designed principally for undergraduate classes, simulates an organizational restructure, requiring students to reorganize themselves around the room multiple times on the order of the instructor. It provides an opportunity for students to analyze group dynamics, consider the value of resistance, and discuss how leaders can foster cultures that encourage employees to speak up.