Unlearning in a Russian agro-holding corporation: The relationship of psychological safety to readiness for change and employee engagement

by Betzold, Nancy K., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 164 pages; 3616271


Russian history tends to define organizational culture and may cause unlearning to be even more difficult than in other countries. Organizations in Russia are centralized and exhibit high levels of the national cultural dimensions of power distance, collectivism, and uncertainty avoidance. The Russian dairy industry is currently experiencing a tremendous increase in construction of large modern dairies; however, milk production continues to linger at levels that are not self-sustaining. Resistance to change in rural areas produces agricultural employees that are reluctant to adjust their beliefs and move forward with new processes. The focus of this research was unlearning. A descriptive, non-experimental study assessed the relationships between psychological safety, readiness for change, unlearning, and employee engagement in a Russian agro-holding corporation. The results revealed that psychological safety, readiness for change, and employee engagement have statistically significant and positive correlations with unlearning. The findings describe unlearning as a process that requires considerable effort. Unlearning is defined as a process of abandoning outdated, obsolete, or non-useful beliefs, norms, values or routines and adopting those that are more suitable for current economic benefit. Management, guided by Lewin's three-step change theory and Becker's seven factors of unlearning, should formulate a process that allows unlearning to occur before, during, and after a change is made. The three instruments used in the study are: the Organizational Change Questionnaire (Bouckenooghe, Devos & Van den Broeck, 2009), the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2003), and the Organizational Courage Assessment (Kilmann, O'Hare & Strauss, 2010). The Organizational Courage Assessment determined that the organization was bureaucratic. Bureaucracy showed a pronounced relationship to psychological safety and fear, but had minimal effect on unlearning within the agro-holding corporation. The study demonstrates that unlearning is a complex and lengthy process that requires management support of both the process and the individuals making the change in beliefs and procedures.

AdviserTerry M. Walker
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3616271

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