This article explores tolerance of ambiguity and its effect on change resistance from the perception of new higher education presidents who often feel overwhelmed by the level of perceived resistance while they learn a new environment. Two separate yet complementary studies were compared for resistance to change: one qualitative and one quantitative. The qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to explore a new higher education leaders’ perspective of facing resistance during the change process. The quantitative study examined the 36-question survey results of individual higher education employees affected by higher education change. The intersection of the two studies explored, through different lenses, how leaders face perceived resistance versus how employees perceive change and then exhibit resistant-like behavior. Results included that the majority of higher education employees were intolerant to ambiguity, and that uncertainty due to new leadership exacerbated this condition. The authors argued against the prevailing advice of putting vision delivery on hold. Rather, the authors recommend that new leaders clearly communicate the vision formation process while maintaining intentional and transparent collaboration with the community.
Gearin, Christopher A.; Dunican, Brian; and Castles, John
"Increased Ambiguity and Resistance While New College Leaders Learn Their Roles,"
Journal of Educational Leadership in Action: Vol. 7:
1, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lindenwood.edu/ela/vol7/iss1/10
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