The effect of multiple negative, neutral, and positive organizational changes

Kristin L. Cullen-Lester – University of Houston, Brian D. Webster – Ball State University, Brian D. Edwards – Oklahoma State University, Phillip W. Braddy

Summary

Organizational change research has largely concluded that employees appraise changes in their workplace negatively and thus respond negatively to greater amounts of change. However, whether this conclusion is warranted remains unclear because previous research has examined single workplace changes in isolation or asked employees to make a global assessment of the changing nature of their workplace. Researchers have not had the means to capture the number of changes employees experience or their appraisals of the many different changes occurring in their workplace. In this study, we developed and validated the Quantity of Change Scale (QCS) to provide a more nuanced understanding of employees’ appraisals of their changing workplace. We found that the negative changes employees experience disproportionately influenced their reactions to the changing work environment. However, we also demonstrated that contrary to popular belief, employees appraised fewer changes as negative than as positive or neutral. Together these findings provide new insight into why assessments of employees’ general reactions to workplace change tend to be negative. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our empirical examination of employees’ appraisals of the many changes in their workplace.

Citation

Cullen-Lester, K. L., Webster, B. D., Edwards, B. D., & Braddy, P. W. (2019). The effect of multiple negative, neutral, and positive organizational changes. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(1), 124–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2018.1544896

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