Thoughts and Feelings About Organizational Change

Lee_Salford (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The change process is “not just thought out but also is ‘felt out,'” according to an article in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (JLOS) — and managers who want to lead change successfully will benefit from understanding this interplay of thought and emotion.

Mel Fugate of Southern Methodist University, Spencer Harrison of Boston College, and Angelo J. Kinicki of Arizona State University published “Thoughts and Feelings About Organizational Change: A Field Test of Appraisal Theory” in the JLOS November 2011 issue. The abstract:

This longitudinal field study examines the relationships among the three focal constructs within appraisal theory—appraisal, emotion, and coping—at the beginning of change and their relationship with employee withdrawal at the end of an organizational restructuring. New theory is used to integrate past theory and research to propose and test a model containing synchronous reciprocal relationships between negative appraisal and negative emotions. Results confirmed a synchronous reciprocal relationship between negative appraisal and negative emotions, which suggests that appraisal is not a sequential process as often conceptualized and tested in the past. Negative appraisals and negative emotions also had negative relationships with control coping, which was negatively associated to intentions to quit, which in turn predicted subsequent voluntary turnover. This study thus extends appraisal theory and demonstrates it is a powerful alternative (theoretical) means for examining employee reactions to organizational change. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.

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