The literature on organizational change and resistance to change is contradictory. Some scholars find resistance a hindrance to successful change (traditional paradigm), whereas others find it a valuable source (modern paradigm). The objective of this study is to enhance our understanding of how resistance affects organizational change by providing a coherent system dynamics perspective. Based on interviews, expert modelling and group modelling, this inductive case study develops a causal loop diagram that displays eight interacting feedback loops to explain resistance to change and the role that participatory strategies play in addressing this. The model contributes to the theoretical debate on how resistance affects change by providing propositions that integrate the traditional and modern paradigms. When managers face decisions about when to increase, stabilize or decrease the use of participatory strategies, our findings imply to base these decisions upon currently dominating feedback loops, such as the Stress Trap or Slow Trap.