Resistance to technological change within a manufacturing context.
Ramnarian, Vishal Suresh.
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Despite the predominantly negative perception that resistance adversely affects a change process, understanding it may be used to successfully implement many changes in organisations. This qualitative study identified inhibitors and enhancers, as perceived by employees with respect to the proposed implementation of a Human Resource Information System technology, at the adaptive and high-adaptive change levels. This issue was examined in the context of large-scale manufacturing company Hulett Aluminium. Based on a review of change theory, innovation diffusion and technology adoption models variables known to relate to technology change were identified and used to formulate a research framework. A quantitative computer attitude survey was initially used to identify a more representative sample frame, after which semi-structured interview techniques were utilised to collect data from eleven general employees and seven Human Resource employees. Qualitative data was analysed using content analysis, domain analysis and the constant comparative concept taken from grounded theory. The findings of this study identified clear communication and employee participation as crucial factors in implementing change at any level. The technology characteristics relative advantage, compatibility and complexity were prominent between both samples. Relative advantage was found to mediate time availability and social influence. Respondents believed trialability allowed them to become familiar with the technology. The support factor training was also dominant and found to mediate respondents' anxiety and uncertainty. The theme that computer experience mitigates anxiety was also evident. Owing to experience of poor technical support, respondents' cited it as an important variable in resistance to technology, which is evident of how experience influences perspective. This study allows researchers and change agents to understand the role individual, technological, propagation and external factors have in employees' perceived resistance to adoption of the proposed technology. By accurately gauging resistance in advance, change agents can anticipate the likely response of the organisation and thus implement appropriate strategies. The research also adds to the expanding base of research investigating resistance to technology adoption in general.