Contemporary Occupational Health Psychology: Global Perspectives on Research and Practice

By Jonathan Houdmont; Stavroula Leka | Go to book overview

10
Individual Adaptation
to the Changing Workplace:
A Model of Causes, Consequences,
and Outcomes

Jane D. Parent Merrimack College, USA

Change is disturbing when it is done to us; exhilarating when it is done by us.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Many organizations are continuously implementing major changes to the way they do business in response to growing international competition, a changing workforce, increasingly complex and changing work environments, the global economic downturn, and other external pressures (Lawler, 1986; Manz, 1992; Ployhart & Bleise, 2006). As organizations strive to maintain their competitive edge, they are reorganizing, downsizing, outsourcing, shifting from manufacturing to knowledgebased work, and facing more competition than ever. With this, new and additional job demands are placed on individuals within these organizations. Large-scale change is a feature of today’s work environment (Robinson & Griffiths, 2005). Also inevitable is the fact that employees must adapt to these constantly changing environments in order to survive and prosper. Development of a body of knowledge about managing change is an important priority for both academics and general managers (Beer, 1987; Saksvik et al., 2007). The need for adaptive workers has become increasingly important due to the fact that today’s organizations are characterized by changing, dynamic environments (Ilgen & Pulakos, 1999; Pulakos, Arad, Donovan, & Plamondon, 2000).

This chapter analyzes the causes, consequences and outcomes of individual adaptation to a changing work environment. A theoretical model is introduced to broaden and refine our understanding of the process of adaptation to organizational change. This chapter also analyzes both individual differences and organizational factors affecting individual responses to change. The concept of an array of adaptive responses (dive, survive, revive, and thrive) is introduced to the theoretical research on organizational changes as well as the idea that better adaptors will experience better work outcomes.

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