Purpose: This study examined organizational change in universities as it relates to discomfort among the organization's members. Design/methodology/approach: Using the critical incident technique (CIT), data was collected from the informants in an Indonesian public university that had been mandated by the government to enter the top 500 world university ranking. This would make it a “World-Class” university. Findings: The findings describe the causes, courses and consequences of the discomfort felt in response to the organizational change in the university context. The causes of discomfort were categorized as a fear of loss, organizational culture, systems and policies, work overload and a lack of resources. Discomfort can manifest through negative affective, cognition and behavioral tendencies. Meanwhile, the consequences result in active and passive participation in the process of the organizational change itself. Originality/value: Discomfort with organizational change is a new variable that has rarely been explored, thus it requires testing and validation using different methods and contexts, as offered by this study. We have also shown that in the initial stage of organizational change (unfreezing), discomfort will always emerge that must be immediately managed in order not to trigger resistance to change. Furthermore, this study exhibits the use of the critical incident technique in the context of organizational change. Finally, we offer comprehensive views by exhibiting the causes, the reactions shown and the consequences of discomfort with the change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1265-1287
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2020


  • Critical incident technique
  • Discomfort
  • Indonesia
  • Organisational change
  • Resistance to change
  • Universities


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