Leadership behaviors and human agency in the valley of despair: A meta-framework for organizational change implementation

Denise Potosky, Wilfrid Azan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


For organizational leaders, implementing change in a workplace means influencing employees to do something new or behave differently. For employees, implementing a change at work requires detaching from familiar routines and social systems, learning and practicing the change, and imagining a future in which the change is valued by the organization. As they apply their agency to implement change, employees may experience loss, uncertainty, and frustration that manifests as despair, which can jeopardize the change process and its outcomes. We assemble a meta-theoretical framework using human agency theory, the Valley of Despair model of organizational change, and Full-Range Leadership Theory to explore ways that leaders' behaviors relate to employees' agentic orientations and behaviors during the implementation phase of the organizational change process. Taking both organizational change leaders' and employees' perspectives into account, the theory derived from our meta-framework argues that leaders' behaviors can shape employees' agency and their behaviors during the implementation stage of change in two important ways: 1) certain leader behaviors are likely to prime agentic orientations that facilitate changing, and 2) certain leader behaviors may help to mitigate employees' despair, enabling the firm to derive value from employees' change implementation behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100927
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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