Resistance: A Primer for Advocates and Change Agents
15 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2009 Last revised: 20 Apr 2009
Date Written: April 2, 2009
It is well-known that people resist proposals for change for reasons that are independent of a rational calculation of self-interest. This article explores two sources of resistance that affect public policy advocates in particular: "Resonance," (negative associations with past experience or other policy domains), and a desire t avoid the psychological and material costs of "transition," (the process of adjustment, personal and institutional, that comes with any significant change).
The author argues that conventional advocacy, in which one side "names the change" and attempts to force others to go along, inherently triggers negative resonance and heightens fears of transition. If advocates can engage opposing groups in some form of negotiation or collaboration to "name the change," these sources of resistance will diminish.
Finally, even where collaboration is not possible, the article suggests that advocates who are self-aware about the risks and losses that they are asking decision-makers to undergo will avoid the tendency to assume that the worst about the intentions of other participants in public disputes.
Keywords: advocacy, ethics, lobbying, conflict resolution, transition, policy, public policy, social psychology, psychology
JEL Classification: L30, L31, D70, D73, D74, D78, D79
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation