Monday, January 21, 2013

The Resistance-Commitment Continuum

Arnold Judson was a consultant who was associated with Douglas McGregor (Theory x/y) and worked in Cambridge, MA.  I would have never known who he was had it not been for Dr. Leon Coetsee from South Africa.  Coetsee referenced Judson in a journal article in '99, bringing Judson's work into the academic realm.

Judson's model is one-dimensional.  A person's behavior is depicted by the different anchor points on the line.  One-dimensional implies that the person's behavior can only move forward or backward on this line.

In the academic world, John Meyer from the University of Western Ontario, is the author of a "valid" resistance-commitment continuum.  The following is a depiction of what Meyer calls the behavioral commitment to change continuum:

Two-dimensional model

In what I believe to be the 2nd edition of his book, Dr. Coetsee continues to support Judson's continuum concept.  However, he also depicted the "continuum" as a flow model.  The following is an adaptation of his flow model:

In this version of the model, he reasons that a person begins with apathy, a state that is neither for or against the change.  Based on a person's first impressions, they move down a resistance or commitment path.  His explanation of the resistance side is more clear to me.

I inserted the terms "low energy" and "high energy" to describe the y-axis.  Personally, I think Meyer's terminology of "compliance-cooperation-championing" is a better fit that the terms Coetsee uses on the commitment side.

However, I think Coestee is genius for depicting the relationship in the way that he has done so.  I spoke to him earlier in the year.  He is a fine person.  It turns out that he works with Barry Johnson of Polarity Management fame.

Small world.

I hope Coetsee's two-dimensional view (x-axis = support for the change; y-axis = energy) is as helpful to you as it was for me.


Coetsee, L. D. (2011). Peak performance and productivity: a practical guide for the creation of a motivating climate. Potchefstroom: Ons drukkers.

Herscovitch, L., & Meyer, J. P. (2002). Commitment to organizational change: Extension of a three component model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(3), 474-487.

Judson, A. (1991). Changing behavior in organizations: Minimizing resistance to change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishing.


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