Theories and Methods of Change Management

Theories and Methods of Change Management

Below are the six fundamental approaches that can be used to adequately describe and discuss the theoretical framework of change management in an organization.

1) Technology Acceptance Model 2 (TAM2).

2) ADKAR Model.

3) Lewin’s 3 stage change model.

4) Reasoned Action Theory

5) Planned Behaviour Theory

6) Kotter’s 8 phases of change.


An extension of TAM 1 was developed by both Venkatesh and Davis, and they named it “Technology Acceptance Model” 2 (TAM 2). The TAM 2 was established with the aim of comprehensively outlining both the intentions of usage and the level of perception that was accorded to the usefulness of system change. These two aspects act as part of the critical factors that are employed during technological change management in an organization. TAM 2 was considered to have a direct relationship to two processes that is the social influence and the cognitive instrumental (Venkatesh and Davis, 2000, pp.188). According to Venkatesh and Davis, in most of the technology acceptance models such as RAM 1 and TAM 3, the perceived usefulness is mostly based on usage intentions of the individuals within an organization who are supposed to embrace technological change (Venkatesh and Davis, 2000, pp.190).

Moreover, as the system usage and technological changes continue to increase in most of the organizations, it is increasingly essential to ensure that the human resource managers in any given company can comprehensively understand how various perceived usefulness construct determinants tend to influence changes that take place in the organization over time (Ketikidis, Dimitrovski, Lazuras and Bath, 2012, pp.125). Such awareness gives them more insight into how they can effectively manage change in the company and encourage the existing employees to embrace such changes as part of the strategy of improving business operations and processes.

The various determinants of the of perceived usefulness have in the past enabled most of the organizations to effectively design reliable organizational interventions that are meant to enhance usage of new systems being adopted in the company (Ketikidis, Dimitrovski, Lazuras and Bath, 2012, pp.126). They also increase their user acceptance although various perceived ease of use determinants broadly formed the initial basis of the formation of the technological Acceptance Model 1.

The technology acceptance model 2 is an improved version of the TAM 1 and incorporated cognitive active and social influence processes which were absent in TAM 1. Cognitive instrumental processes encompass various elements which include perceived ease of use, output quality, job relevance, and result demonstrability. Social influence processes, on the other hand, are composed of image, voluntariness and subjective norm (Zhang, Cocosila and Archer, 2010, pp.51). The below figure 1 illustrates the theoretical constructs of TAM 2.

Figure: Technology Acceptance Model 2

Source: (Venkatesh and Davis, 2000, pp.192).

Each of the instrumental determinants in the TAM 2 model above has its meaning as elaborated in the below figure 2.

Figure 2: Definition of the Instrumental Determinants of TAM 2 Model

Source: (Venkatesh and Davis, 1996, pp.453)

Subjective norm entails what other people tend to think about the subject that may be behaving in a particular way or not behaving at all. There exists a high degree of consistency between TAM 2 and reasoned action theory since theories extensively address the issue of the behavior of individuals towards a particular change. Moreover, voluntariness which entails the extent to which adopters of new technology tend to perceive the decision to adopt as being non-mandatory within a firm is exhibited as being a variable that is increasingly moderate in TAM 2 (Zhang, Cocosila and Archer, 2010, pp.53). Thus, the acceptance of changes that take place in a firm as a result of technological innovation is relatively non-mandatory according to this variable of TAM 2.

Moreover, image as one of the instrumental determinants of the TAM 2 is positively influenced by the subjective norm (Zhang, Cocosila and Archer, 2010, pp.54). For instance, if the performance of a particular task in highly perceived by group members as being relevant to them, then, the performance of such a duty by a member of the group tends to elevate the image of such an individual in that group. The image in the technological changes setting of a firm comprises of the extent to which the continued use of a given innovative method or equipment results to significant enhancement of the status of the user in his or her social system. The technology acceptance model 2 theorizes that there exists a substantial direct effect of the subjective norm on intentions usage contexts that are increasingly mandatory during the early stage of any given technological innovation within a company (Zhang, Cocosila and Archer, 2010, pp.55). However, this direct effect of the subjective norm tends to gradually weaken with the continued direct experience of the subjects to the concerned system or technological advancement which eventually supports a rapid increase or growth of intentions towards continuous usage of such an innovation (Zhang, Cocosila and Archer, 2010, pp.56).

In regards to cognitive instrumental process, job relevance as an instrumental determinant tends to describe the ability of the new technological innovation or system change in a firm to support an individual in effectively undertaking the assigned duties or activities (Chuttur, 2009, pp.11). Thus, according to TAM 2, the acceptance of a system or technological change in a company is significantly determined by the level of relevance that it brings to the users in the effort of enhancing their ability to perform their assigned duties more efficiently (Chuttur, 2009, pp.14). The second cognitive instrumental variable is the output quality which primarily entails the kind of perception that a person has towards an innovation that is about to be implemented in the firm and its ability to improve the results (Chuttur, 2009, pp.18).

Output quality is considered as an essential determinant of the degree of acceptability of a given system or technological advancement by the employees in a given company. Lastly, the TAM 2 theorizes ‘results demonstrability’ as another crucial cognitive instrumental determinant of the acceptability of technological change in a firm. This variable implies that there exists a more positive attitude towards the usefulness of the new system or technological advancement amongst individuals or users within an organization as long as the outcomes are expected to be positive (Venkatesh and Davis, 1996, pp.455). TAM 2 asserts that the available cognitive instrumental processes influence the perceived usefulness of a new innovative system or method being adopted in the firm in a relatively positive manner (Venkatesh and Davis, 1996, pp.457). Such an influence increases the willingness, intention, and acceptability of such a system by its users.

Criticism, Limitations, and Implication

TAM 2 has received some objections over its applicability in ensuring that effective technology change has properly being implemented in a firm. For instance, owing to various subjective factors such as values and norms of the societies, personality traits, and personal attributes, it is increasingly difficult to reliably quantify the underlines of behavior in an empirical investigation (Salovaara and Tamminen, 2009, pp.163). That implies that this model does not give a full and reliable account of how the behavior of the individuals affected by the change in an organization can be measured.


The most reliable model that can be used in effectively implementing change within an organization is the ADKAR Model which is an acronym that is used in describing five significant actions or stages that must be undertaken as part of measures of effectively achieving the desired level of change. The ADKAR Model which is commonly used by executives, managers and project teams to effectively manage change was initially created or founded by Jeff Hiatt in 1999 and has over the years become one of the most used change management theoretical models compared to others such as TAM 2 and Lewin’s 3 stage models (Boca, 2013, pp.43). It assumes that for a change to be successful, five phases must be followed as illustrated by the below figure 3.

Figure 3: ADKAR Model

Source: (Boca, 2013, pp.44).


The first stage of effective change management as described by the above figure three is the awareness of the need for change within an organization. This stage involves communicating with the key stakeholders within a company on the importance of implementing a particular change in the firm (Boca, 2013, pp.47). A significant foundation that enhances the level of understanding of the individuals affected by change within an organization is created through the numerous information that is generated in the Multi-paradigm. Putting into place various strategies that can be used in increasing the awareness of the people on the importance of implementing a change in a firm is very vital since it helps in raising the level of acceptance of that change (Shah, 2014, pp.24).


This is the second stage of enhancing effective change management within an organization and involves encouraging the employees to support the much-needed change and showing them the ability of such change to contribute to performance increase and efficiency in operations (Hornstein, 2015, pp.292). The best way in which managers in an organization can increase the degree of the desire of the existing workers to willingly embrace the proposed change in through improving volunteer motivation by enlightening them about some of the benefits and incentives that they are likely to achieve as a result of adopting the change. That is as described by the stage one of Kotter’s eight steps of change which involves increasing the urgency for change in the organization which gradually results to increase in desire after a critical understanding of the benefits that are likely to acquire from that change (Hornstein, 2015, pp.293). Employees who are the main subjects affected by the occurrence of a change in an organization need to be motivated to embrace such changes by educating them on the importance of that change and its ability to ease their operations (Hornstein, 2015, pp.294). It is essential for a firm to first comprehensively understand the various motivations that are behind the willingness of the employees to embrace change and then implement them in the effort of increasing their desire and acceptance of such change.


The third step in successfully implementing a change within an organization is through increasing the level of knowledge that the employees have on change and how this can be achieved (Kazmi and Naarananoja, 2013, pp.217). Most of the workers exhibit a high degree of reluctance towards change if they have little or no knowledge on how this change is supposed to be successfully implemented and used within the firm (Kazmi and Naarananoja, 2013, pp.219). It is therefore essential for top managers who are responsible for implementing and managing change to ensure that adequate information regarding how a particular change is going to be performed and applied within the company is provided to all those parties who are directly or indirectly affected by this change.


Another critical factor to put into consideration while implementing change in a company is enhancing the strength of the company and its employees to implement and manage change (Varkey and Antonio, 2010, pp.269). This can be achieved through increasing all the necessary resources that are required to implement change in the company such as human resources, capital, and machinery. Change is always expensive to manage and may require numerous resources before it can successfully be implemented in the company. Through the use of focus groups, the employees and all parties affected by the change may give their suggestions regarding some of the best strategies that they think can be employed in implementing change (Varkey and Antonio, 2010, pp.272). Such proposals may also help in putting into place a solid implementation plan for the desired change.


The last stage of effectively implementing change is reinforcement which involves increasing all the necessary resources that are needed in implementing and monitoring change to ensure that it is sustainable in the long run (Karambelkar and Bhattacharya, 2017, pp.5). The failure to enhance the sustainability of a change in a company tends to increase the risk of failure since change needs regular monitoring and assessment in the effort of ensuring that it does not end up backfiring. Reinforcement helps in ensuring that change is fully implemented and maintained in the company (Karambelkar and Bhattacharya, 2017, pp.6). It is increasingly essential for companies to use effective change management practices that may help then in ensuring that change is successfully implemented and embraced by all parties especially the employees who are the most affected by it.

Criticism, Limitations

, and Implications

Despite the ADKAR Model being preferred for use in implementing change in an organization, it has also been found to have several shortcomings that have led to managers questioning its actual applicability in enhancing change management. For instance, the model fails to provide a clear distinction between step change and incremental change in an organization hence implying that determining factors such as scope, size, priority, and complexity of the intended change are not accurately and comprehensively put into consideration (Abdulkadhim, Bahari, Bakri and Ismail, 2015, pp.39).  Moreover, this model does not adequately differentiate between the various functions and roles of both the management and leadership of an organization (Abdulkadhim, Bahari, Bakri and Ismail, 2015, pp.40). That implies that the model fails to accurately separate the roles and functions of both the existing leadership and management of a company in facilitating change.


A high level of approach to change in an institution or organization is provided by the Kurt Lewin’s Change Theory Model which is illustrated by the below figure 4.

Figure 4: Lewin’s 3 Stage Change Model

Source: (Shirey, 2013, pp.70).

As illustrated by the above figure 4, Lewin’s Change Model is comprised of three processes which include unfreezing, change and freezing (Shirey, 2013, pp.70). This model helps all the change agents including the managers with a reliable framework that they can easily apply while implementing change in their respective organizations (Shirey, 2013, pp.71). It is important to make change implementation as seamless as possible given the high level of sensitivity that is associated with it. Lewin’s change model enables managers to ensure that change is adopted permanently and radically implemented. It also helps in minimizing the amount of disruption that may be subjected to the existing operational structures in a firm by providing a reliable framework that managers can use (Shirey, 2013, pp.72). However, unlike other models such as TAM 2, ADKAR Model and Kotter’s eight stages of changes that are extensively used in change management, Lewin’s 3 stage model is rarely used due to its shortcomings which are addressed by Kotter’s eight stages of change model (Shirey, 2013, pp.75). Below is an analysis of this three-step model which provides appropriate guidance on how individuals affected by change can be encouraged to embrace it.


This stage helps the managers in influencing the employees to start getting ready for a change in the effort of eliminating processes and tasks that are no longer useful and relevant to the organization but they are unfortunately still being exercised as a result of them being habitual or part of the routine (Bakari, Hunjra and Niazi, 2017, pp.158).  The unfreezing stage of this model aims at assisting people in getting open to new ways of reaching their objectives, discovering their current bad habits and learn a new perspective about their day-to-day activities (Bakari, Hunjra and Niazi, 2017, pp.161). For the wheels of change to be set in motion, there is an increased need for reassessing the current practices and processes.


Change in an organization starts to be implemented once all the team members in the organization have opened up their minds to new ideas. This stage involves clearing the uncertainty about a new way of doing things that had previously been introduced in the unfreezing stage and consists of implementing this new action that is set to transform how activities are carried out in an organization (Bakari, Hunjra and Niazi, 2017, pp.167). It has been found that the change stage tends to take more time as individuals affected by the change may take a longer duration before embracing it, participating proactively in the change and accepting it as part of their new way of carrying their daily operations (Cummings, Bridgman and Brown, 2016, pp.35). Employees in an organization will only accept change after they get convinced that they are going to benefit from it.


This stage involves making the change becomes permanent and ensure that it naturally settles in as part of the organization’s routine. Freezing involves cementing the organizational change that has taken place and making such change become part of the required standard that must be maintained at all times. Individuals in an organization can take advantage of change through embracing it (Cummings, Bridgman and Brown, 2016, pp.37). Presence of consistent job descriptions and a stable organizational chart are significant signs that freezing is successfully taking place in the company (Cummings, Bridgman and Brown, 2016, pp.40). It is during this stage that all the people affected by the change can institutionalize and internalize change that has taken place.

Criticism, Limitations, and Implications

Scholars have in the past few decades expressed their increased concern over the reliability of the Lewin’s 3 stage model in facilitating effective change management. Some people have argued that this model is increasingly too quaint and straightforward in the modern business environment and era which is characterized by rapid and constant changes (McAleese, Creed and Zutshi, 2013, pp.113). Notably, the freezing stage of this model seems to imply that in the new status quo created by change, a great deal of time is spent. Moreover, this model is considered by most of the people as being linear and having low regards to the emotional life of individuals involved in the change process (McAleese, Creed, and Zutshi, 2013, pp.115).


The below figure 5 illustrates the theoretical framework of the theory of reasoned action.

Figure 5: Theory of Reasoned Action

Source: (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1174).

Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) maintains that behavior of an individual is generally under voluntary control thus the conduct of that person significantly determines one’s intention to perform a specific behavior or act in a given way. In return, the intention becomes a primary function of one’s attitude towards the subjective norms and the behavior (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1175). Both instrumentality and intention are considered as some of the main predictors of behavior. People’s subjective norms, attitudes towards a specific behavior and perceived behavior control form the three key determinants of instrumentality. Thus, the stronger the perceived control and the more subjective norms and favorable attitudes in an individual, the stronger the intention of such a person to perform the behavior becomes (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1178).

The behavior of the employees in a workplace setting to embrace change is significantly determined by their current attitudes to change, and the level of control that they perceive to have once the change is implemented (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1182). Thus, the lower the perceived level of control over change that is supposed to take place in an institution and the more negative attitudes that such individuals affected by change have to the new or proposed way of doing things in the firm, the more the unwillingness to accept such as change hence resulting to a reluctant behavior towards that change (Wadie, 2012, pp.115).

Both the attitude and subjective norms that are possessed by an individual help in shaping the kind of intention that such a person will have towards specific behavior. Both a locus of control and the perceived self-efficacy form the actual basis from which the perceived control of work tends to emerge, and there is a general assumption that there exists a direct interaction between the perceived control and intention as suggested in the theory of planned behavior which is the improved version of this theory (Wadie, 2012, pp.116). It is only through positive evaluation and the general belief that other people think and would highly recommend that one proceeds to perform a particular action that an individual will develop a firm intention to perform it (Wadie, 2012, pp.118). Hence, people’s willingness to accept a specific change will emanate from the positivity and benefits realized as a result of evaluating the possible consequences of undertaking a given action (Mishra Akman and Mishra, 2014, pp.31).

Criticism, Limitations, and Implication

It has been argued that the theory of reasoned action does not give a full account of the description of the nature of the behavior of an individual when subjected to inevitable change. Such change may be the environment, ways of doing things or even introduction of new processes that one was not used to thus resulting in some reluctance (Mishra Akman and Mishra, 2014, pp.35). As suggested by this theory, it would be entirely wrong to assume or claim that the behavior intention of an individual does not always lead to an actual behavior (Mishra Akman and Mishra, 2014, pp.37).  Thus, this theory implies that the actual behavior of a person is not facilitated by behavior intentions which are not correct since one’s intention to behave in a particular way always result in actual behavior.


This theory is an improved version of the theory of reasoned action and evolved as a result of the emergence of a counter-argument against the strong relationship that exists between the actual behavior of an individual and the intentions of one’s behavior (Cheon, Lee, Crooks and Song, 2012, pp.1058). This theory was aimed at meeting the limitation that was associated with the reasoned action theory thus making it superior to it. Like other decision-making models such as ADKAR model and the theory of reasoned action, the theory of planned behavior also asserts that people tend to use the available information to make decisions systematically and rationally (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1186). The below figure 6 illustrates the framework of the theory of planned behavior.

Figure 6: Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)

Source: (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1187).

As illustrated by the above figure 6, three factors determine the planned behavior theory. According to TPB, intentions which act as primary indicators of the level of willingness of an individual to perform a specific behavior primarily form the most proximal determinant of how one behaves (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1189). On average, intentions alone tend to account for approximately 22% of the variance in the behavior of a person thus indicating their significant influence in shaping one’s behavior (Yousafzai, Foxall and Pallister, 2010, pp.1190). Attitude is the first factor that determines the behavior of a person, and it stimulates one into performing the behavior of interest which may be either positive or negative. Subjective norm forms the second factor that determines behavior and primarily reflects on the current perception about the social pressure in triggering one into either performing or not performing a particular act (Kautonen, van Gelderen, and Fink, 2015, pp.656). The last factor determining the behavior of an individual is the perceived behavior control which claimed to have a direct effect on behavior and an indirect effect on behavior and mainly describes the degree to which a given behavior is considered to be under volitional control.

Similarly to the theory of reasoned action, TPB has extensively been employed to predict the behavior of a person by focusing on one’s intentions. In the effort of explaining technological changes in organization setting, managers have widely utilized theory of planned behavior to understand employee’s intent towards involving themselves in new programs and process of adoption of a new technology among other organizational changes that tend to take place in a company (Kautonen, van Gelderen and Fink, 2015, pp.657). TPB is now being used to distinguish emotions, behaviors, and cognition amongst the employees in a company given the fact that resistance to change in the modern organizational settings has both behavioral and attitudinal components.

During the transformational process in a company, attitudes that exhibit some degree of resistance towards the change taking place are perceived to precede unsupportive behaviors. Like most of the change management models such as the ADKAR model and Lewin’s 3 stage model, theory of planned behavior also provides a reliable organizing framework that possesses extremely high predictive power. That power helps the managers in critically comprehending the kind of beliefs that employees or individuals affected by change tend to have towards change as translated in their behavioral responses (Kautonen, van Gelderen, and Fink, 2015, pp.659). Hence it is possible to predict the kind of intentions that an employee has to behaviorally support a particular change in the company using the theory of planned behavior.

Criticisms, Limitation, and Implications

Some scholars have raised concerns about the inefficiency of the role played by the subjective norm in predicting intentions of an individual to behave in a particular manner given the fact attitude determines one’s intentions more than the subjective norm (Kautonen, van Gelderen, and Fink, 2015, pp.665).


Kotter’s 8 phases of change model like most of the change management models discussed in this paper tend to provide a framework which may be employed by the managers to understand how change is implemented and managed. Kotter’s 8 phases of change model is viewed by most of the people as an inspiration from the Lewin’s 3 stage model which is its predecessor and which formed the foundation on which this Kotter’s model was built and expanded through broadening the change management concept (Neumeier, 2013, pp.3). The below figure 7 illustrates some of the key components or stages of the Kotter’s eight steps of change.

Figure 7: Kotter’s 8 Stages of Change

Source: (Neumeier, 2013, pp.4).

As described by the above Kotter’s eight stages model, change within an organization tends to take place in three phases which include creating a climate for a change, engaging the entire organization in the change process and lastly implementing and sustaining the change (Neumeier, 2013, pp.6). Each of the stages of change as exhibited by this model is discussed below.

Creating Urgency

The best way for a manager to facilitate a change in an organization is through creating or developing the sense of urgency within the firm of the increased need of making a change in the effort of improving current operations or specific areas of operations that seem to increasingly dormant (Neumeier, 2013, pp.7). As discussed in Lewin’s 3 stage model, the best way to create an urgency of change is through encouraging the employees to be open to new ideas that have the possibility of facilitating the improvement of the current way of doing things in the firm (Neumeier, 2013, pp.7). The best way to support openness amongst the employees is through showing them the current weaknesses and threats the company is facing as a result of using a particular procedure or technique of doing things thus the high urgency of implementing a change that can help eradicate these risks.

Building the Guiding Team

For change to be easily implemented, Kotter advocated for the increased need of creating a powerful coalition or team that is made up of the right people who can help in making the change a success (Neumeier, 2013, pp.8). Once built, the team leader is then required to ensure that the team members continue creating a high momentum and urgency for the increased need for change across the entire organization hence triggering the positive attitudes towards this change as proposed by the theory of planned behavior.

Getting the Right Vision

The leader implementing the change then needs to come up with a clear and easy to understand the vision for the members of the organization thus setting the desired direction that he or she wants the organization to head through the proposed change (Neumeier, 2013, pp.9). A clear vision acts as a motivational factor as it reduces confusion and understands the primary reasons behind the increased need for this change.

Communicate to Buy-in

A manager then needs to put into place effective communication strategies that ensure or members of the organization have easy access to the information about the change. Constant communication of information related to changes to the all affected parties helps these individuals to buy the idea about the necessity of the change that is about to be implemented (Calegari, Sibley and Turner, 2015, pp.74).

Empower Action

Kotter claims that for a change to be implemented in a firm, the manager has to empower all the people involved in implementing this change by eradicating any barriers such as lack of self-confidence and negative attitude that are likely to inhibit them from achieving the desired level of change (Calegari, Sibley and Turner, 2015, pp.75).

Creating Short-term Wins

Change may take a long time before it is fully achieved thus the increased need of the manager to create short-term wins which help in boosting the morale and optimism of the affected parties by change, build their faith about the possibility of success of the project or change being implemented and also giving them a sense of achievement (Calegari, Sibley and Turner, 2015, pp.78).

Don not Let Up

This step helps in sustaining change within the form and involves encouraging the members of the organization to be patient and continue enduring the various waves of change until the change is achieved. Kotter uses this stage to advocate for the increased need for creating structures and situation that empower people to overcome all the challenges they are facing without fear of reprisal.

Making it Stick

It is the last stage of Kotter’s 8 stage model and involves creating a culture that ensures the new change has stuck in the company and has become part of the routine of the people involved and affected by that change (Pollack and Pollack, 2015, pp.53). Some of the best strategies of making a specific change in the organization include promoting and motivating those individuals who have embraced the change and made it part of their new norm, regular training and coaching the individuals involved and ensuring that the change has become thoroughly embedded (Calder, 2013, pp.44).

Criticism, Limitation, and Implications

Despite the Kotter’s eight stages of change being considered the most for in facilitating and managing change in an organization when compared to other models, it has also been found to have several flaws. For instance, in the current business environment that is characterized by uncertainty, Kotter’s model may fail to be effective in managing change given the fact that change takes a longer duration and may fail to follow eight steps suggested by Kotter (Calder, 2013, pp.47). Secondly, this model advocate for disempowerment of the subordinates in the sense that most of the tasks related to change implementation are assigned to top leaders and individuals with outstanding skills during the building a dominant team stage (Calder, 2013, pp.48). Such employees may at times feel disillusioned.