BackgroundChange management experts have emphasized the importance of establishing organizational
readiness for change and recommended various strategies for creating it. Although
the advice seems reasonable, the scientific basis for it is limited. Unlike individual
readiness for change, organizational readiness for change has not been subject to
extensive theoretical development or empirical study. In this article, I conceptually
define organizational readiness for change and develop a theory of its determinants
and outcomes. I focus on the organizational level of analysis because many promising
approaches to improving healthcare delivery entail collective behavior change in the
form of systems redesign--that is, multiple, simultaneous changes in staffing, work
flow, decision making, communication, and reward systems.DiscussionOrganizational readiness for change is a multi-level, multi-faceted construct. As
an organization-level construct, readiness for change refers to organizational members'
shared resolve to implement a change (change commitment) and shared belief in their
collective capability to do so (change efficacy). Organizational readiness for change
varies as a function of how much organizational members value the change and how favorably
they appraise three key determinants of implementation capability: task demands, resource
availability, and situational factors. When organizational readiness for change is
high, organizational members are more likely to initiate change, exert greater effort,
exhibit greater persistence, and display more cooperative behavior. The result is
more effective implementation.SummaryThe theory described in this article treats organizational readiness as a shared psychological
state in which organizational members feel committed to implementing an organizational
change and confident in their collective abilities to do so. This way of thinking
about organizational readiness is best suited for examining organizational changes
where collective behavior change is necessary in order to effectively implement the
change and, in some instances, for the change to produce anticipated benefits. Testing
the theory would require further measurement development and careful sampling decisions.
The theory offers a means of reconciling the structural and psychological views of
organizational readiness found in the literature. Further, the theory suggests the
possibility that the strategies that change management experts recommend are equifinal.
That is, there is no 'one best way' to increase organizational readiness for change.