Toward a More Comprehensive Model of Reactions to Change

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This article proposes a synthesized multi-dimensional model of reactions to change (RTC) that unifies several elements of the extant but fragmented models and complements them with some new elements to make the representation of the complex and sometimes ambiguous RTC possible with enhanced clarity. The suggested model contains cognitive, emotional (affective), intentional, overt actional, and covert actional aspects of RTC. It distinguishes communication and actual participation within the actional dimension with scales of the possible reactions from negative through neutral to positive. A distinction is made between reactions during the transition phase and reactions to the (planned or implemented) new state. Two change reaction indexes are introduced: one for the transition phase and another for the new state. These indexes can make it possible to characterize RTC in a more exact way than the oversimplified common language expressions, like “resistance to change.” Possible interactions and ambivalences between and within the different reaction dimensions are also discussed. The proposed model and the general-purpose indexes help academics and managers, or consultants better understand (and consequently better handle) RTC, which is crucial regarding most organizational initiatives.