Resistance to (Digital) Change: Individual, systemic and learning-related perspectives

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Resistance to change has been elaborated on from different perspectives: with a focus on employee resistance to change and as a systemic phenomenon, but also in the light of digital change and digital transformation. However, an integration of these approaches it not easy to find. The present chapter discusses the phenomenon of resistance to change in light of current understandings of the concept as well as new elaborations which might help to pinpoint specific challenges of digital change resistance. To this end, I will dive into the research traditions that have been built up around the concept. In order to understand resistance to digital change, specifically, I will draw upon the theory of Danish educational researcher Knut Illeris and explore the potential of his writings to explain resistance to digital change from a learning perspective. Throughout I will use examples from higher education digitalization research, to illustrate the respective phenomena. Key navigation points of this paper are to elaborate resistance to (digital) change both as an individual and a systemic phenomenon and to contribute to a better understanding of resistance to digital change in light of incremental and disruptive change expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Transformation of Learning Organisations
EditorsDirk Ifenthaler, Sandra Hofhues, Marc Egloffstein, Christian Helbig
PublisherSpringer Publishing Company
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-55877-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-55878-9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Resistance to change
  • employee resistance to change,
  • resistance to digital transformation
  • field theory
  • learning theory
  • Knut Illeris


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