As it is known, the contemporary world endures the process of economic and social globalization. This tendency stipulates the use of creativity in the business world. To survive the increased competition, today's companies apply to innovative strategies. The firms embrace the changes in their organizational chart as well as in the process of manufacturing and marketing. In these circumstances, it is critically important to assess the readiness of the staff for change management, In addition, one should detect the ratio of change resistance and find the proper ways of taming this significant factor that inhibits the acceptance and development of innovations and lessens firm's chances to benefit from efficient novelties.
Acknowledging the role of the successful change management in the contemporary world, one should also understand that humans are the source of resistance. Therefore, to elaborate the strategies that can help addressing resistance-related issues, it is appropriate to consider studying the causal links of its occurrence. In particular, one can rightfully presume that the diversity of people's mentality is positively related to the different strength of change resistance. Thus, it is possible to assume that at least partially, the demographic situation should be connected with the level of change resistance. The recent studies reveal that the rapid demographic changes in the today's world result in "the future workforce with younger workers" (DeLancey 2013, 3562). It is hypothesized that younger people are less resistant to change, whereas, older employees tend to display greater resistance to innovations.
The aim of the research is to explore and detect whether the variables such as resistance to change and employees' age are positively related. In a case, if there is no strong connection between the above-stated variables, the future choice of methods that are aimed at mitigating staff's resistance to change should not be strongly bonded to this demographic peculiarity. Otherwise, if the notions of employees' age and change resistance are interdependent, the findings will be useful for the future successful leadership. Specifically, it can be deployed while establishing and choosing the measures that can weaken people's resistance to novelties.
It is presumed that "behaviors are external manifestations of internal issues within a person's mindset" (Hultman 2003, p. 1). Consequently, this study is based on the hypothesis that one's mindset is being shaped with age. Moreover, the studied issue also suggests that the impact of time on a person results in the strengthened change resistance. Considering these assumptions, it is necessary to observe the definition of resistance and how this phenomenon correlates with the notion of readiness. Resistance is understood as "a state of mind reflecting unwillingness or unreceptiveness to change in the ways we think and behave"(Hultman 2003, p. 1).
Naturally, resistance is typically being opposed to readiness. Readiness for change means one's receptiveness for diverse approaches, novelties and changes. This definition implies that the lack of resistance does not guarantee one's readiness for changes, and vice versa. The lack of readiness can be observed simultaneously with the lack of resistance (Hultman, 2003). While studying the connection between change resistance and the age of employees, it is important to keep in mind the above-revealed rationale, which should help avoiding confusion.
Moreover, one should comprehend that the resistance to change can be either active or passive. Active resistance means that a person's unreadiness is externally manifested. For instance, it can be directed towards the managerial staff, co-workers, clients or everybody at once. Unlike active resistance, passive one typically is not externally manifested. Nevertheless, it may have a significant negative impact on the passively resistant employees affecting the productivity of their working performance (Hultman 2003). What makes the things even worse is the fact that mental and emotional connections of the team members can spread the negative effect of the passive resistance on other participants of the workflow. As it is seen, both kinds of resistance are serious inhibiting factors that should be addressed by leaders with the aim to assure the maximum productivity and healthy environment of their organizations. Comprehending the importance of the timely identified active and passive resistances, it is appropriate to detect whether the type of change resistance is connected with the employees' age.
Apart from that, it is logical to presume that age is connected with the concept of time and perspective. In these terms, one should point out that it is often easier "to get to people to agree now on a change that won't take place until some point in the future" (Marker n. d., p. 2). This strategy is considered to be quite fruitful while managing organizational change; however, it is possible to assume that it has different impact on employees depending on their age. In other words, the perception of a situation and, consequently, readiness to embrace it, depends on how much time people have and, respectively, how threatening/feasible the change seems to be in their assessment. Scrutinizing why older employees may be more inclined to experience change resistance, it is appropriate to observe the core reasons that predefine the occurrence of this phenomenon.
Specifically, workers may experience the lack of trust to the leading staff or to the innovative concepts. This external manifestation is connected with the internal mindset that is shaped with life experience, which makes older people become more cautious. A conjunctive reason that may beget resistance is the difference in assessment. Considering the rationale, naturally, more skilful employees are more confident in the correctness of their opinions and evaluations. Therefore, the confrontation can be deteriorated by employee's confidence in the inappropriateness of the implemented change. What is more, it is noticed that resistance to change is positively related to the low tolerance or change (Kotter & Schlesinger 2008). Connecting this insight to the variable of age, one can deduce that older employees may be less perceptive for changes because, presumably, they made greater contribution to company's sustainability. The flourishing of their organizations led to experiencing the situations of success that were achieved by deploying the old approaches, strategies and techniques. Therefore, older workers may rightfully possess low tolerance to change.
Apart from being the direct agents of change resistance, older generation may have a considerable indirect impact on the entire working team. Considering the case, it is detected that "people feel connected to other people who are identified with the old way" (Schuler n. d., p. 1). Simply put, if the older employees are the agents of the significant change resistance, it means that their younger co-workers may adopt the same attitude while using more experienced peers as their role models. Moreover, younger employees may experience change resistance if they do not have any alternative role models who are perceptive for changes, and/or if themselves they feel the lack of confidence for committing changes (Schuler n. d., p. 1). As it is seen, it is important to study whether and to what extend the age variable is positively related to the growth of change resistance. Nevertheless, in these conditions, it is important to acknowledge that "fear of the unknown is a rational, rather than an irrational, response to change"(Baker 1989, p. 1). Consequently, to a degree, it is common for all individuals regardless their age.
Besides, surveying the link between age and innovation-averse reactions, it is necessary to highlight that there are two types of innovations. In particular, "innovation can be distinguished between innovation as a process and innovation as an outcome"(Oeij et al. 2012). For instance, innovation as a process stipulates the development and implementation of the approaches and techniques that enhance the general company's sustainability. Similarly, "innovation as an outcome at organisational level becomes manifest in new products and services, new product features and production methods" (Oeij et al. 2012). Consequently, it is necessary to identify the links between each type of innovation and employees' age variable.
This research is a hypothesis testing study. To be more precise, it is organized to prove or refute the premise that employees' resistance to change is positively related to their age. In particular, the older workers are hypothesized to experience and reflex higher level of change resistance comparing to their younger co-workers.
The data will be obtained through online questionnaire of the employees who work for multinational corporations. The companies will be chosen from the 10 different industries. The online interview for employees should cover the questions about change resistance and readiness, their attitude to innovation as a process and as an outcome. Besides, the questionnaire will address the passive and active manifestations of resistance and the indirect impact of the co-workers on the perceptiveness for change. All questions should be presented as the evaluation of real cases, instead of direct statements in order to cope with the high motivation of approval and avoid the occurrence of cognitive biases, or stereotype threat. Apart from that, to verify the validity of the employees' answers, it is necessary to collect data from managers regarding how they assess own success in addressing change resistance of their subordinates.
In addition, it is suggested that "the retired employees should be interviewed" (Glor 2014). This complex approach is supposed to provide the broader and more credible information. In addition, the survey of sustainable companies is important because they are presumed to deploy innovations successfully and thus, are expected to possess a good sample for studying. Besides, given that the phenomenon of globalization will result in the creation of greater amount of the MNCs, it is appropriate to explore the stated hypothesis in the business environment that will become more relevant in the future.
This study will be conducted using a probability sampling design. In particular, the sample will be divided into two groups: managers' and employees' answers. The answers of employees will be viewed from the perspective of their age and the answers of managers will be analyzed basing on how they describe and assess the work performance of the subordinates while implementing novelties. Furthermore, the answers of leaders and workers will be classified into three age groups (20-30 years, 30-50, and 50-70). Thereafter, the variables of change resistance/readiness, passive/active resistance, direct/indirect effects of resistance, resistance to process/result will be calculated in the percentage for each group. This probability sampling design will display the results relevant for each age group, which will allow testing the stated hypothesis.
Anticipating the accessibility issues, it is natural to predict the plausible unwillingness of the companies' staff to cooperate. Therefore, it is necessary to collect several corporations for each observed industry in order to assure that at least one of them will be willing to participate in the proposed online questionnaire. Besides, to enhance the managers' self-interest in providing the sample, it is needed to promise that the obtain results will be shared with the managerial staff. In this regard, one should emphasize that the possibility to utilize the obtained findings will assist in detecting resistance-related issues. Moreover, it will help providing the efficient approaches of solving the resistance-averse moods, which, in general, is supposed to have a positive impact on the company's sustainability. In addition, the results of this research can be used in the future when the demographic situation leads the changes in the age of the workforce.
It is important to acknowledge that this study will raise significant ethical concerns connected with the notion of job discrimination on the basis of employee's age. A conjunctive ethical issue results in the attempt to omit the occurrence of the corresponding cognitive biases by the audience who will study and deploy the materials and findings of this research. Finally, while collecting a sample, it is necessary to assure that the process of data gathering will not create the atmosphere of the stereotype threat for any of the respondents.
Addressing the above-stated ethical considerations in more details it is necessary to identify the nature of the age-related ethical issues and predict the situations in which they may occur. In particular, the study may indirectly communicate cognitive biases about people's age and the appropriateness of their mindset for a concrete position. To avoid the occurrence of such cognitive biases it is necessary to explain that resistance to change can have positive implications. For instance, not all changes are positive even if they are perceived as such; therefore, one's resistance to the implementation of deficient innovations can play a vital role in saving organization from losses. Therefore, one should stress that a change resistant employee can maintain a benevolent function of control while the novelty is on the test stage. This insight may prevent the development of cognitive biases in managers, which serves the purpose of eliminating the corresponding ethical issues.
In addition, given that the deprivation of equal rights for job applicants basing on their age is considered to be illegal and unethical, the interpretation of findings should emphasize that neither the purpose of the study nor the obtained data imply the appropriateness of job discrimination. Besides, in a case if the hypothesis is proven, the concluding part of research should contain the practical solutions of how the findings can be utilized to assure equal and fair involvement of all age categories while implementing organizational change.
Moreover, to avoid creating conditions that cause stereotype threat (for instance, older employees may experience enhanced anxiety that is begot by the fear to perform worse than their younger co-workers) the age variable should not be emphasized. These measures are expected to mitigate the ethical age-related issues that may appear in the process of study or can evoke the corresponding attitudes and concerns afterwards.
The above-described probability sampling design will be utilized to collect quantitative data. In particularly, the obtained quantitative information will point out the percentage in the three groups of employees (young, middle-aged, and pre-retirement age individuals) express readiness for change or change resistance. Moreover, the calculations will display percentage what degree active and passive resistance is displayed by each age group. In addition, quantitative results will show to what extent people of different ages are inclined to be engaged in readiness or resistance by their co-workers. Finally, the findings will provide the quantitative correlation between age groups regarding resistance to the innovative process and to the results of innovations. Similarly, the data obtained from managers and retired personnel will help to monitor the high motivation of approval in the current workers by this lessening the plausible data error. To facilitate the interpretation of calculations, it is necessary to organize and present the data in a form of a table.
Considering the limitations of the study, it is necessary to point out that despite being anonymous and with the control groups, the study still may present distorted results because the way people assess their own attitudes and performance may differ from the reality. Similarly, one should acknowledge that managers may have biases regarding the success of their work as well as respectively the change readiness/resistance of their staff. Nonetheless, the absence of personification and three-directional approach towards studying the stated hypothesis are supposed to provide credible results.
To survey the nature of change resistance, it is hypothesize that older employees display stronger change-averse moods than their younger co-workers. It is necessary to comprehend that the fear of unknown is a typical and rational reaction of self-defense (Baker 1989). It means that the resistance to change is contagious. In this regard, it is noticed that the older employees are noticed to have a significant indirect inhibiting impact on the process of change implementation. This mediate influence is manifested through discouraging their less experienced co-workers from embracing novelties (Schuler n. d.). In the today's challenging world the inability to timely adjust to changes means being selected out. Therefore, to avoid the negative implications, it is necessary to verify the stated hypothesis, which would help companies elaborate the methods of resistance elimination in accordance with the obtained data. If the resistance is not connected (or barely connected) to age, the methods should not be based on the age-related practices. Otherwise, it is necessary to include the age variable while constructing the resistance-solving plan. It is necessary to acknowledge that this study is closely related with the issue of job discrimination basing on employee's age. In this regard, if the connection is not proven, one age-relate factor can be excluded. In a case if the connected is proven, it is appropriate to develop a set of approaches and techniques that are aimed at providing equal working opportunities and conditions for every individual, simultaneously, assuring the maximum productivity of the workflow. Thus, the results of this research are expected to be helpful for the managerial staff of the multinational corporations as well as for the smaller businesses that strive to remain competitive by applying to changes and novelties.
The entire process of study is expected to last 4,5 months. This time is enough to research the sample, connect with the potential responders, gather all necessary data, as well as classify and analyze the findings.