The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Organizational Change: Climate Factors That Predict Readiness for Change

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 8:00 AM
Marina 6 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Nancy Claiborne, PhD, Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Charles Auerbach, PhD, Professor, Yeshiva University, New York, NY
Catherine K. Lawrence, PhD, CSW, Assistant Research Professor, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Wendy Schudrich, MSW, Doctoral Student, Yeshiva University, New york, NY
Background:  When organizations embark on deliberate efforts to increase effectiveness through organizational changes, those demonstrating greater readiness for change have better outcomes in advancing and implementing the proposed change (Weiner et al., 2008).  However, when organizations are not ready, change efforts may result in resistance, conflict and failure. Researchers and practitioners concur that organizational climate plays a substantial role in successful implementation of organizational change, yet research regarding the relationship between an organization’s climate and its readiness for change is scarce (Bouckenooghe et al., 2009).  Even fewer studies address organizational climate predictors of readiness for change in child welfare or human service organizations.

 Methods:  A sample of 646 child welfare workers employed at eight not-for-profit child welfare agencies under contract to provide services in a Northeastern state were surveyed on their agency’s readiness for change and organizational climate. The Parker Organizational Climate survey measured four primary domains: role, job, supervision, and organizational dimensions (Parker et al., 2003). A factor analysis was conducted on nine questions derived from the Organizational Readiness for Change survey (Lehman, et al., 2002). Multivariate OLS regression was utilized to test how agency climate impacts agency readiness for change.

 Results:  The readiness for change scale yielded three factors: agency adaptation, ease of change, and agency resistance, which were regressed on agency climate.  The following climate sub-scales were statistically significant (p< .05) on at least one or more of the factors: ambiguity, overload, importance, innovation, justice, support, goals, and supervisor trust.

 Implications:  This study highlights the importance of organizational climate to the success of agency change efforts and identifies specific factors that support agency change.  Organizations may have a higher level of readiness to implement successful change initiatives when staff feel their role is clear, and supervisors are trusted and articulate the goals of the change. Additionally, organizations are more likely to adopt changes when: agency leaders encourage workers to develop ideas and try new ways of doing the job; change is meaningful or directly improves outcomes for children and families; and decisions are made fairly and include staff input and concerns. Finally, changes are unlikely to succeed where accommodations are not made to ease work pressures.  Most importantly, this study suggests that not all organizational climates support change equally.