ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (2): 248-258.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00248

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Take precautions: Impact of informal information before organizational change on employee resistance to change

DU Jing(),CUI Yumeng   

  1. Economics and Management School, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • Received:2017-11-06 Published:2019-02-25 Online:2018-12-24
  • Contact: Jing DU


Informal information before organizational change refers to unconfirmed information moving through informal channels. Such information can pertain to the content and objectives of organizational change during the preparatory phase. Although previous studies have found the distribution of informal information before the organizational change, its impact on employees has been unknown. To shed light on informal information before organizational change, we investigated the impact of informal information quality and character before the organizational change on employee initial change resistance. We investigated the mediation of organizational change cognition as well as the attenuation of employee resistance to the change over time and the moderating effect of informal information frequency.
Our theoretical propositions are collected from 255 MBA students in a reputable university in China. Our original plan for the data to be collected before the organizational change was rejected by top executives due to the possible negative influence of informal information gathering. Thus, a retrospective self-report was utilized for MBA students to complete the questionnaire. To avoid common method variance, a two-wave collection was designed. MBA students reported the informal information before the organizational change, their change cognition, and initial change resistance in the first wave. Two weeks after the first wave, MBA students reported their change resistance during the implementation of the organizational change. Structural equation model and multi-level linear growth model were utilized to conduct analyses regarding the impact of informal information before the change and the attenuation of employee resistance to change, respectively.
The results showed the low quality and negative informal information before the organizational change were positively related to the employee initial resistance to change, and this relationship was mediated by change cognition. The resistance to change of employees attenuated significantly over time from the preparatory phase to the implementation of organizational change.
The research focused on the informal information before organizational change and explored its impact on employee resistance to change. Based on adaptation level theory, we found the attenuation of employee resistance to change over time. Our study extends implementation of organizational change to preparatory phase where the organizational change has been brewed, which contributes to adaptation level theory. The results demonstrated that informal information can prepare employees in advance and reduce resistance to change. Thus, managers could focus more attention to informal communication before the organizational change occurs in the workplace.

Key words: informal information before the change, change cognition, resistance to change, attenuation

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