Navigating Workplace Change, One Employee At A Time
Miguel Quiñones describes today’s business climate with an
age-old saying: “The only constant is change.”
“With competition coming from the other side of the globe
and over the Internet, the rate of change has accelerated. Organizations
must constantly adapt to survive,” says Quiñones, who joined
SMU’s Cox School of Business as the Marilyn and Leo Corrigan
Endowed Professor of Management and Organization in 2006.
Quiñones focuses much of his research on individuals working
in these organizations, including his new study, “Explaining Differences
in Reactions to Organizational Change: The Role of an
Individual’s Stage of Change.” He presented the research in April
2008 to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
The study began in 2005, while Quiñones was serving as a U.S.
Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at Pontificia Universidad
Catolica in Santiago, Chile. There he met David Huepe, a graduate
student and consultant to the Chilean investigative police, which
was significantly changing how it hired detectives – and creating
conflict between managers and subordinates in the process.
Change theories typically focus on subordinates’ deep-seated
resistance, Quiñones says, but he suspected something else was
behind the conflict. “It’s always struck me that those at the upper
levels, with their wide view of the competitive landscape, have
had time to accept the need for a change and work through all
the alternatives – and then they just spring this new direction on
In developing a survey that Quiñones and Huepe gave to 580
officers in Santiago, they drew from a 1994 model that identified
five necessary stages for lasting change – precontemplation, contemplation,
preparation, action and maintenance – and demonstrated
that different techniques are needed to move individuals
from one stage to the next.
Their survey found more managers at the action stage, when
they felt genuinely committed to the change, and more subordinates
at the early stages, where they felt forced to change. “When
making a change, organizations clearly must not assume that everyone
is at the same place,” Quiñones says. “If they don’t lead individuals
through the process, the change isn’t likely to take hold.”
He plans to follow up with another study on effective strategies
for different stages, such as support groups and reward systems.
Quiñones also leads the SMU Cox CEO Sentiment Survey, which
he launched last year with Robert Rasberry, assistant professor of
management and organizations. Published in the September 2007
Dallas CEO magazine, the survey tracks the perspective of Dallas-
Fort Worth business leaders on the local economic outlook, the
quality of the workforce, competitive challenges and other issues.
“We want to do this every year to keep our finger on the pulse
of the area’s business leadership and to follow trends and shifts,”
Quiñones says. He notes that Cox’s strong connections to a vibrant
business community drew him to SMU, along with the University’s
commitment to teaching and research.
After receiving his Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology
from Michigan State University, Quiñones taught at Rice University
and at the University of Arizona. He is a fellow of the American
Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial and
Organizational Psychology, and serves as associate editor of the
Journal of Management.
“I like to link the academic world with the business world to
solve problems,” Quiñones says. “If we do our work right in organizational
psychology, we help create an environment where people
feel valued and productive, which makes for a stronger, more
For more information: cox.smu.edu/academic/professor.do/quinones