Transforming the Cynic

M09 2

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This paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on attitudes, employee cynicism toward organizational change and transformational leadership. Many researchers agree that successful implementation of organizational change is essential to the health and progress of organizations (e.g., Armenakis & Bedeian, 1999; Stanley, Meyer, & Topolnytsky, 2005). One barrier to the successful implementation of organizational change is cynicism. Cynicism in the work context is considered to be a state-based attitude and consequently, may be amenable and responsive to leadership behaviors such as those outlined by transformational leadership theory (e.g., Bommer, Rich, & Rubin, 2005; Reichers, Wanous, & Austin, 1997). It is hypothesized that current research and knowledge from the areas of attitude theory, employee cynicism and transformational leadership can inform leaders and offer recommendations for the successful implementation of organizational change. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of transformational leadership behaviors in the context of employee cynicism toward organizational change. If transformational leadership behaviors are found effective in transforming cynicism, future research should focus on furthering a framework for understanding the underlying determinants of that effectiveness as well as examining the possible detrimental effects of suppressing cynical attitudes.