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The Schweick Syndrome: The Narrative Power of Resistance by Agreement


In this chapter, we report a case study of an innovation's diffusion, and the decoupling, myth and ceremony which have surrounded it. Although this example is very macro, the same strategic actions and processes may be found inside any organization declaring its intent to adopt a new change program or managerial innovation. The case discussed here is the Czech Republic's reforms of its economic institutions, since 1989, when the Russians left eastern Europe. The Czechs quickly privatized State enterprises, provided an innovative opportunity for all citizens to purchase shares, and established a new stock exchange. But despite all this ceremony and public acclaim, these economic programs were not implemented. The celebratory narratives for change were weakened by the same Czech officials' failure to adequately implement their widely praised reforms. The concepts of organizational learning and cultural path dependence are very useful in helping to interpret this example of effective resistance by agreement. After reviewing these, and inviting other explanations, I will conclude with my sense of how Meyer and Rowan's focus on decoupling contributes to (1) explaining this outcome, and (2) inviting expanded studies into the areas of resistance to change, the diffusion of innovation, and cross-cultural studies.


Book Chapter


Paul Hirsch, Hayagreeva Rao

Date Published



Hirsch, Paul, and Hayagreeva Rao. 2004. The Schweick Syndrome: The Narrative Power of Resistance by Agreement.


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