Whilst elements of the discipline can be traced back several thousand years, the inception of modern-day change management is typically placed a little over one hundred years ago. Much of its focus during the 20th century centred on management structures at the organisational level.
In recent decades, this focus has been criticised for its misalignment with the main determinant for success – how change recipients react to organisational change.
This has led to a broadening of focus to incorporate the influence of the individual, and more specifically, characteristics like personality, affect, attitude and emotion.
One development embodying this shift was Oreg’s (2003) ‘Resistance to Change’ measure. This scale acknowledged the importance of the individual and aimed to determine their dispositional inclination to either resist or support organisational change. This provided an important insight for practitioners attempting to predict the likelihood that staff would engage with change initiatives.
Our research sought to determine if and how personality was related to dispositional resistance to change. Personality was assessed using the Risk Type Compass (RTC). Its focus on risk personality makes it especially pertinent to this topic, as it identifies antecedents that help predict decision making, threat perception and reaction to unpredictable situations.
The RTC collects a range of personality metrics (see Figure 1). These include scales focusing on Emotion (Emotional:Calm), Cognition (Daring:Measured) and Risk Tolerance (Risk Tolerance Index – RTi). The latter is a composite measure of the influence of personality on an individual’s risk-taking propensity.