Implementing Change in Organizations

A Manager’s Guide



By Robert Youker
(Formerly of the World Bank Institute)

Maryland, USA



Workers in organizations are often faced with the problem of introducing change to procedures that may impact the status quo.  Some simple changes result in strong resistance, causing additional problems for management.  Other changes are usually accepted as worthwhile improvements.  The purpose of this paper is to define why some changes are resisted, while others are accepted, and to describe how managers can use procedures that may result in substantially higher rate of acceptance of proposed changes.  This will include a model for analyzing ways to improve the methods for introducing change in a given situation.

Although the change can be of any type, this article will focus on changes in administrative systems.  Examples of administrative systems would include the installation of a formal system of analysis of capital investments, using the discounted cash flow technique for calculating the return on investment; or the introduction of a system of development project planning and control based on the critical path method of network diagramming (CPM/PERT).  Both types of new administrative systems would require changes in the way some of the organization’s personnel carry out their daily work.

The history of the introduction of administrative system changes is replete with failures.  Some new systems were never implemented, while others had model initial success but then died out over time.  For example, a study by Davis [3] indicated that only 55% of the major construction firms in the USA were effectively using CPM.  A study of corporate models in management science indicated that only 3% had been implemented [12]. Each reader, I am sure, can think of several examples of systems that have been developed and not fully implemented.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally published in the Project Management Quarterly in March 1983.  It is republished here with the author’s permission.

How to cite this paper: Youker, R. (1983). Implementing Change in Organizations (A Manager’s Guide); Project Management Quarterly, March 1983, p. 34-40; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue VII – July. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Youker-Implementing-Change-in-Organizations-PMQ-March-1983.pdf

About the Author

Robert Youker

World Bank (retired)





 Robert (Bob) Youker is an independent trainer and consultant in Project Management with more than forty years of experience in the field.  He is retired from the World Bank where he developed and presented six week project management training courses for the managers of major projects in many different countries. He served as the technical author for the bank on the Instructors Resource Kit on CD ROM for a five week training course on Managing the Implementation of Development Projects.  He has written and presented more than a dozen papers at the Project Management Institute and the International Project Management Association (Europe) conferences many of which have been reprinted in the Project Management Institute publications and the International Journal of Project Management (UK).

Mr. Youker is a graduate of Colgate University, the Harvard Business School and studied for a doctorate in behavioral science at George Washington University.  His project management experience includes new product development at Xerox Corporation and project management consulting for many companies as President of Planalog Management Systems from 1968 to 1975.  He has taught in Project Management Courses for AMA, AMR, AED, ILI, ILO, UCLA, University of Wisconsin, George Washington University, the Asian Development Bank and many other organizations. He developed and presented the first Project Management courses in Pakistan, Turkey, China and Africa for the World Bank.

A few years ago Mr. Youker conducted Project Management training in Amman, Jordan financed by the European Union for 75 high level civil servants from Iraq who implemented the first four World Bank projects in Iraq. He is a former Director of PMI, IPMA and asapm, the USA member organization of IPMA. Most recently he has been consulting for the US Government Millennium Challenge Corporation on project management training in Africa.  Bob can be contacted at [email protected]

To see more works by Bob Youker, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/robert-bob-youker/