Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Individual adaptation to the changing workplace: Causes, consequences and outcomes

Jane D Parent, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Employees adapting to change display a wide array of responses. Coping with change can be difficult for some individuals, whereas some employees may not be bothered by change; instead they look at it as a chance to grow and learn. Carver (1998) and O'Leary and Ickovics (1995) purport four potential modes of adapting to change: to succumb to the change, to survive the change, to be resilient to the change by regaining the level of functioning prior to the change, or to thrive and function better than before the change. This study analyzed the causes, consequences and outcomes of individual adaptation to a changing work environment. This study served to broaden and refine our understanding of the process of adaptation to organization change by filling some of the conceptual and empirical gaps in the research on individual adaptation at work (Chan, 2000). Prior studies have concentrated mostly on individual differences contributing to one's ability to adapt to change (Judge, Thorensen, Pucik, and Welbourne, 1999), or have focused on how organization changes affect stress and anxiety levels among individuals (Wanberg & Banas, 2000, Shaw, Fields, Thacker & Fisher, 1993 e.g.). This study advanced empirical research on individual change by developing and testing a model of both individual differences and organizational, or context specific factors affecting individual responses to change. It was hypothesized that individuals reporting higher levels of the above variables would also report higher levels of adaptability. This study also introduces the notion of thriving (functioning at a higher level after a change) to the empirical research on organizational changes and tested the hypothesis that better adaptors would perceive better work outcomes in the form of higher job satisfaction and perceived performance and lower absenteeism and intentions to quit the organization. The above model was tested in a field study of 169 participants across four different organizations experiencing varying changes. Results indicated participation, role clarity and optimism were positively related to adaptability. Further, it was found that better adaptors were more satisfied with their jobs, were less likely to quit the organization, and perceived higher performance after the change.

Subject Area

Management|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Parent, Jane D, "Individual adaptation to the changing workplace: Causes, consequences and outcomes" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3242353.