Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Kimberly Johnson


organizational change, job satisfaction, employee resistance, human resources, COVID-19


Business | Human Resources Management


Failed change initiatives continuously plagued organizations throughout time, mainly because of the complexities involving the response to change. Researchers studied to understand the cause and effect of failed change efforts. The type of change often notes as a precursor to the kind of response, while the resistance to change was a catalyst to the 70% rate of failed change initiatives (Burnes & Jackson, 2011; Maheshwari & Vohra, 2015). Organizational change initiatives become further complicated, involving a crisis. This qualitative multiple case study included the phenomenon of unsuccessful change proposals during a crisis, its implications on job satisfaction and employee resistance, and the human resources sector’s culpability in this matter. COVID-19, a recent global pandemic, was the crisis in this study. Disruptions in the food services sector were the industry of choice studied. The participants were 16 employees and managers of fast food and casual dining establishments in California, Virginia, and North Carolina who experienced the changes brought on by COVID-19. Data came from structured in-person and telephone interviews and field studies. The findings revealed multiple themes, including (a) fear-driven compliance, (b) change generates opportunities, exposes deficiencies, and alters the workplace, (c) people, stress, and communication impacts job satisfaction, (d) employee resistance, and (e) human resources management ambiguity. A key recommendation implored the human resource sector to increase its visibility and manage its involvement with change initiatives, especially during a crisis. The recommendation is further studies that include interviewing human resources personnel and exploring different business sectors impacted by COVID-19.