BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Addressing resistance to change through a micro interpersonal lens: an investigation into the coaching process

    Brandes, B. and Lai, Yi-Ling (2022) Addressing resistance to change through a micro interpersonal lens: an investigation into the coaching process. Journal of Organizational Change Management 35 (3), pp. 666-681. ISSN 0953-4814.

    48014.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

    Download (390kB) | Preview


    Research Design: We drew upon critical realism and abductive research methodology to understand connections between coaching intervention and individual change resistance through 21 in-depth interviews with independent coaches listed in coaching associations in Germany. Purpose: This study investigated resistance to change and change management through a micro-level interpersonal perspective. Specifically, this paper addresses in what way external change experts, such as coaches, identify distinctive emotional and behavioural indicators of resistance and facilitate individuals to develop positive strengths and motivation to change. Findings: This study first re-evaluates the implications of resistance and extends its meaning from negative obstacles into natural emotional responses of individuals and constructive resources for change. In addition, the study results indicate resistance can be distinguished through both explicit behaviours, body language along with implicit emotional reactions, like being tiredness or making small jokes. Moreover, several micro-level interpersonal approaches for coaches to apply in dealing with resistance, including understanding coachees’ cognitive status and working environment, adapting varied communication styles as well as drawing upon coachees’ strengths. Originality: Overall, this study demonstrates that external coaching is one of the valuable approaches in responding to individual resistance in organisational change management. The research findings widen existing bipolar paradigms of resistance (either change obstacles or positive resource) into a neutral spectrum which holds impartial view on emotional reactions to change. Furthermore, individual differences and contextual factors play essential roles in change process, for instance, coachees’ personality, personal experiences, knowledge, interpretations to change process and topics as well as organisational context (e.g., power, hierarchy and culture) need to be considered into change management strategy. Practical Implications: The research results offer organisations (e.g., managers and HR professionals) essential guidelines in micro-level change management strategy by considering external coaching as a valuable option to deal with varied individual, social and contextual factors (e.g., organisational power and politics). From the organisational investment perspective, indicators of resistance and approaches to facilitate coachees’ emotional reactions can be served as a preliminary protocol for stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of their change management schemes. Moreover, the framework outlined in this research can be considered in the future coaching education and professional development programmes.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): coaching, resistance to change, micro-level change management
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: Yi-Ling Lai
    Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2022 13:16
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:16


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item