Fighting fire with fire: action research on the inoculation technique to limit the resistances related to an IT project

Peter Bou Saba, Régis MEISSONIER


Academic literature offers a wide range of change management methods to identify and reduce resistance related to IT projects. While the inoculation method seduced both researchers and practitioners in psychology or sociology, it has been little experienced in information systems. This change management technique postulates that in the same way individuals can be vaccinated with a virus, they can also protect themselves from negative influences by exposing them to the arguments put forward by the detractors of the project. The refutation, for this purpose, consists into providing arguments to the individual to help them support their attitude and, to be able, to reject other counter-arguments. This research discloses the results of a research-action carried out over 3 years in a consulting company whom the implementation of a decision support system was associated with strong resistance behaviors. We experienced the inoculation technique to limit the resistance propagation. The results tend to confirm the contribution of this method to the preservation of the positive attitudes of the partisans while relativizing the expected "boomerang" effect on the detractors of the project.


inoculation; project; IT; resistance; conflict; propagation

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