The Social Psychology of Change Management: Theories and an Evidence-Based Perspective on Social and Organizational Beings, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Social Psychology of Change Management

Theories and an Evidence-Based Perspective on Social and Organizational Beings, 1st Edition

By Steven ten Have, John Rijsman, Wouter ten Have, Joris Westhof


304 pages

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pub: 2018-12-13
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Changes are rarely accomplished by individuals. People are social animals and changes are social processes which have to be organized.

Social psychology is essential for the effectiveness and development of the field of change management. It is necessary to understand people in change processes. Social psychology also teaches us that meaning is key during change and intervention. Social psychology makes change management comprehensible to people and allows them to consider their actions in groups and the organization on their merits. They may seem obvious and self-evident, but practice and science, as well as the popular change management literature, show that it is not.

Drawing on the field of social psychology and based on primary research, The Social Psychology of Change Management presents more than forty social psychological theories and concepts that are relevant for the field of change management. The theories and concepts are analyzed and categorized following Fiske’s five core social motives; belonging, understanding, controlling, enhancing self, and trusting. Each theory will have an introduction in which its assumptions and relevance is explained.

By studying the scientific evidence, including meta-analytic evidence, the book provides practitioners, students and academics in the field of change management, organizational behaviour and business strategy the most relevant social psychological ideas and best available evidence, thereby further unleashing the potential of social psychology in order to feed the field of change management. By categorizing and integrating the relevant theories and concepts, change management is enriched and restructured in a prudent, positive and practical way.

The overarching goal, however, inspired by the ideas and perspective of leading thinkers like Kurt Lewin, James Q. Wilson and Susan T. Fiske, is to make the world a better place. Social psychologists (being social scientists) study practical social issues, in our case issues related to change management, and application to real-world problems is a key goal. Therefore, this book goes beyond the domain of organizational sciences.

Table of Contents

Research team

List of Tables and Figures



  1. Social Psychology and Change Management

  2. Model and Methodology

  3. Belonging, Organizational Behavior and Change

  4. Understanding, Organizational Behavior and Change

  5. Controlling, Organizational Behavior and Change

  6. Trusting, Organizational Behavior and Change

  7. Self-enhancing, Organizational Behavior and Change

  8. Towards a Social Psychology of Change Management


Appendix A: Overview of Authors and Researchers

Appendix B: Examples of Matrix for each Core Social Motive

Appendix C: Bibliography


About the Authors

Steven ten Have, PhD, is a full professor of strategy and change at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, chairman of the Foundation for Evidence Based Management, and partner at TEN HAVE Change Management, the Netherlands.

John Rijsman, PhD, is a full professor of social psychology at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. He obtained his PhD in experimental social psychology from the University of Louvain in 1970, and, after a short stay at the University of Southern Illinois, was asked in 1972 to become chair of social psychology at the new faculty of psychology in Tilburg, where he has stayed ever since.

Wouter ten Have, PhD, is a full professor of organization and change at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, visiting university lecturer of change management (MBA health- care management) at the Amsterdam Business School, the Netherlands and partner at TEN HAVE Change Management, the Netherlands.

Joris Westhof, MSc, is a business consultant at Zestgroup, the Netherlands.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Organizational Change & Development

It is often stated that some 70% of all change projects fail. Though this figure can be disputed, it is nevertheless clear that managing change is one of the most difficult tasks facing organizations today. In response to this, writers offer a wide range of theories and advice designed to aid managers and scholars in understanding and managing change, but which seem merely to overwhelm them with a profusion of competing and conflicting advice and approaches. In many respects, change is a field which epitomises the ‘rigor-relevance’ debate. We have many approaches to change which are built on sound research and robust theories, but which appear to lack relevance for managers. We also have a vast array of nostrums, practices and tools which managers use, but which appear to lack methodological or theoretical foundations.

The aim of this series is to cut through the confusion surrounding the study and practice of change by providing comprehensive and in-depth studies of existing and emerging approaches to change. The rationale for the series is that we cannot understand organizational change sufficiently nor implement it effectively unless we can evaluate the various approaches in terms of the evidence which underpins them, what they seek to achieve and how and where they can be applied. In particular, the series seeks to address, but is not limited to, the following questions:

  • What are the emerging themes in the field of organizational change?
  • Which theories and approaches to change have stood the test of time?
  • What are the key debates within the field?
  • How has the field been influenced by and incorporated newer approaches to organizational life, such as postmodernism, social constructionism, critical realism, and complexity theories?
  • What is the current status of OD (organization development)?
  • To what extent have countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America developed their own distinct approaches to change?
  • How are developments such as social media and virtual organizations affecting the way organizations perceive and carry out change?
  • Do successful organizations adopt different approaches to change than unsuccessful ones, or do they use the same approaches but more effectively?

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Strategic Planning
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Behavior