Organizational change: The role of climate and job satisfaction in child welfare workers' perception of readiness for change

Nancy Claiborne, Charles Auerbach, Catherine Lawrence, Wendy Zeitlin Schudrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background: When organizations embark on deliberate efforts to increase effectiveness through organizational-level changes, those that demonstrate greater readiness for change tend to have better outcomes. In contrast, when the organization is not ready, a change effort may result in resistance, conflict and, eventually, failure. However, studies addressing how agency climate and job satisfaction influence workers' perception of the organization's readiness for change in child welfare or human service organizations are scarce. Methods: Data for this study was obtained from a sample of 356 direct care and clinical child welfare workers employed at eight not-for-profit child welfare agencies under contract to provide a variety of services in a large northeastern state. Workers were surveyed on their agency's readiness for change, organizational climate, and job satisfaction. The Spector Job Satisfaction Survey measured nine subscales and Parker Organizational Climate survey measured four primary domains: role, job, supervision, and organizational dimensions. A confirmatory factor analysis was conducted on nine questions derived from the Organizational Readiness for Change survey that measured workers' perceptions of organizational readiness for change. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was utilized to determine climate and satisfaction influences on voluntary child welfare workers' readiness for change. Results: The results of SEM confirmed that the exogenous independent indicators of role ambiguity, supervisor goal emphasis, organizational innovation, satisfaction with communication, and the number of years in current position were predictive of workers' perception of readiness for change with significant positive coefficients. Implications: This study highlights the importance of certain organizational climate and job satisfaction factors that child welfare workers' identify for the success of agency change efforts. Workers perceive that organizations may have a higher level of readiness to implement successful change initiatives when: (1) workers feel their role is clear, supervisors articulate change goals, and job performance is held to a high standard and is measurable; (2) agency leaders establish organizational communication that is explicate, and they encourage workers to develop ideas and try new ways of doing the job; and (3) the greater the number of years workers are in their current position, the more likely change initiatives are perceived to be successful. Most importantly, this study suggests that not all organizational climate or job satisfaction factors are recognized by workers as supporting change equally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2013-2019
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Child welfare workforce
  • Organizational change
  • Readiness for organizational change


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