Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



In today's world, organizational change is inevitable for organizations and for the employees who support and labor for that organization (Goodstein & Burke, 2005; Leana & Barry, 2000). How employees perceive initiated changes will impact if and when they adopt the change, and how they participate in the change. The role of long-tenured employees in organizational change efforts has not been studied sufficiently. The assumption that long-tenured employees resist change and have lower productivity (Auer, Berg & Coulibaly, 2004) is juxtaposed against the assertion in the literature that it is these long-term employees who move into change because they feel comfortable taking risks and need opportunity for growth (Cunningham, Woodward, Shannon, MacIntosh, Lendrum, Rosenbloom, & Brown, 2002; Haveman, 1995). Thus, organizations may not have been capitalizing on their long-tenured employees' energies to spur change initiatives (Auer, Berg, & Coulibaly, 2004). This study identifies how long-term employees respond and contribute to change efforts. Employees who had more than 25 years of experience in an academic medical center participated in data collection. Thirty-five participants completed the Cynicism about Organizational Change survey (Reichers, Wanous, and Austin, 1997), five participated in a focus group, 14 individual interviews and 13 priority card sort participants resulted in five findings. Long-term employees act as informal leaders and influencers to get others involved with change, they will get on board with change even if they disagree with the change, they want to be informed of changes and have input to change efforts. Additionally, long-term employees drive change and engage in change targeted at theories in action. Recommendations for organizations to capitalize on their long-term employees contributions during change efforts result directly from these five findings. They include informing employees of the change, asking for their input toward the change effort, aligning change with the organization's vision and mission, implementing changes at the individual job or work group level, and providing opportunity for long-term employees to engage in change as innovators or early adopters. These strategies are supported in the literature has having a positive effect on employee engagement and the change goals of the organization.

Degree Name

Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Caudell, Ann

Second Committee Member

Chavez, Alicia

Third Committee Member

Shiver, Janet




Organizational change, Long-term employees, Employee attitude surveys

Document Type