Resistance to Technological Change Essay

Total Length: 2162 words ( 7 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 7

Page 1 of 7

Part One

Ms. Figueroa is facing an issue that is being framed as resistance to technological change, but seems more resistance to cultural change. She was hired to bring innovative technologies to ASD, but started to do so without first establishing her personal credibility as a change agent. Part of this is that her supervisor wanted a demonstration early in her tenure, before she had proven anything, but there are several other cultural issues at play as well. Yet, adoption of new technologies is clearly not something that ASD has done well in the past, despite its reputation as an innovative school, so there may be some cultural issues specifically surrounding new technologies. The case takes place in 2006, so right before smartphones, which makes it an interesting case – what did the teachers and supervisors at ASD do when smartphones entirely revolutionized learning for deaf students?

Adoption of new technologies often faces resistance, especially in organizations that are generally slow to change. Some of the issues that come into play, and probably do for Ms. Figueroa, are mistrust, fear of the unknown, and in particular concern about how the changes will impact them (Quast, 2012). Figueroa is new to the organization, and has not established any trust yet. Moreover, she is seen at least by some teachers as a shill for Texas Instruments, and is not one of them, as in not deaf. Her credentials as a math teacher and an innovator are less important that her cultural credentials and her ability to fit into an already-established social dynamic. For her to have succeeded, she would have needed more leadership support. What occurred instead was that the senior organizational leaders hired her, disappeared from the picture, and failed to ensure that her immediate supervisors and the other teachers were aware of the degree of support they had for her and her work – that left the others feeling that they could resist so openly.

In addition to the cultural issues, the other teachers were doubtless concerned that a new hotshot teacher was coming in to make them look bad. They are inherently resistant to change, and this inertia probably means that new technology is a threat (UnicornHRO, 2016). They know they won’t master it the same way that a younger teacher will, even going so far as to (falsely) suggest that the students won’t like it, or will have trouble with it. Their random spurious arguments mask this threat, because admitting that they are threatened by younger teachers and new technology is not something that they are going to ever admit to Figueroa.

Part Two

There are several key stakeholders in this case besides Figueroa. The hiring committee and senior leadership of ASD are critical stakeholders who, after hiring Figueroa, dropped out of the picture. This was a tactical error. The second key group of stakeholders are the students, and the third are the other teachers and low-level supervisors. The hiring committee and senior leadership had a vision for what they wanted in a new teacher, and Figueroa fit that bill. Thus, she earned the role based on her qualifications. Yet, they left the door open for her to think otherwise.
Further, their lack of post-hiring support has proved to be a problem. For her ideas to be accepted openly in the organization, she would have needed the support of senior management. If the rest of the organization knows that senior management fully supports her, and is willing to go to bat for her, then they are less likely to resist change so openly. Figueroa’s supervisor, for example, should have been specifically requested to support her, and if senior management had any doubts about this, she should have been given an advocate on senior management. There was, it seems, a failure to anticipate the troubles she would have, and therefore the resources she needed to have from senior management – specifically their direct involvement in establishing her credibility and vision, and actively countering resistance to change – were…

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…employer. Further, it puts them at odds with the best interest of students. At that point, the resistors lose their perceived moral high standing – they are against logic, and against what is morally right. That makes their position much less justifiable.

That does not mean that this will come without conflict. The reality is that while resistance will be less strong, it will still exist. There is still the fact that Figueroa faces personal resistance for not being part of the established culture of the school. There is still the threat that some teachers will see when confronted with the need to learn new skills and in particular to adopt new technologies. Overcoming these challenges will be maybe a bit more difficult. On the face of it, ASD’s leadership will need to bring in a few more teachers like Figueroa, who can gradually start to shift the culture of the school. It might need to ship out some of the more dinosaurish teachers, and in particular anybody who showed personal disrespect for Figueroa. The resistance she is facing is not just a matter of resisting organizational change, but it is highlights the need for an overhaul of the organizational culture, which has clearly adopted some toxic elements and become unwelcoming. But if the board ever wants to take the school forward, it has to break the more toxic aspects of the culture and foster a much stronger readiness for change, not just in response to crisis but in response to opportunity. Looking at this case from the lens of the future, smartphones are just around the corner, so resistance to technology that is this hostile is something that will need to be eradicated in the next few years anyway, so ASD leadership needs to start this now. When Figueroa goes back and reports on her experiences, which is what she should do, the leadership team at ASD needs to put a much more aggressive plan in motion to transform the culture at ASD and make it more….....

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References

Armenakis, A., Harris, S. & Mossholder, K. (1993) Creating readiness for organizational change. Human Relations. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F001872679304600601

Friedburg, L. (2001) The impact of technological change on older workers: Evidence from data on computer use. NBER Working Paper No. 8297

Gilley, A., Gilley, J. & McMillan, H. (2009) Organizational change: Motivation, communication and leadership effectiveness. Performance Improvement Quarterly. Vol. 21 (4) 75-94.

Morgan, D. & Zeffane, R. (2003) Employee involvement, organizational change and trust in
management. International Journal of Human Resource Management. Vol. 14 (1) 55-75.

Nelson, B. (2012) Resistance to technological change: The case of the unused calculators. Journal of Case Studies. Vol. 30 (2) 14-20.

Quast, L. (2012) Overcome the 5 main reasons people resist change. Forbes. Retrieved February 24, 2019 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/11/26/overcome-the-5-main-reasons-people-resist-change/#1a8739a33efd

UnicornHRO (2016) Handling resistance to technological change in the workforce. UnicornHRO.com. Retrieved February 24, 2019 from http://unicornhro.com/blog/handling-resistance-to-technological-change-in-the-workforce/

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