Six Cases of Resistance
There were numerous instances of resistance during the transformations at both Olivet College and Portland State University. Likewise, the change champions at both institutions used a wide variety of strategic tactics and tools to engage and surmount the resistance they encountered.
While the focus of this book is on resistance to change as experienced by those who championed the efforts, I also interviewed several of the key resisters. In the main, the resisters’ perspectives support the results. However, there are times when, juxtaposed with the viewpoints of the champions, resisters’ experiences show up as confounding or outlying, or even provide conflicting evidence.
The six cases offered in this chapter dig deep into the Olivet College and Portland State University transformation sagas. Although robust, the cases are not the full story. Because the data collected for this work encompass a tenyear span of transformation efforts, the findings go well beyond those clearly identifiable in the cases. The primary purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how resisters and champions interact. In order to provide a full appreciation for the natural interplay—the organic symbiosis—among and between resisters and champions as they are spurred by organizational change—I describe how ordinary people operating on each side of these efforts engaged one another.
The six vignettes presented here illustrate the circumstances surrounding resistance and engagement action. At the conclusion of each one, I identify the forms of resistance and engagement supported by the data. A full exposition of my findings on engagement behavior is presented in Chapter 6.