Lindholm During the past two decades higher education in America has attempted a number of reforms. Reform efforts are predicated on the assumption that proactive, intentional change efforts in colleges and universities can succeed despite the predilection for tradition and maintaining the existing culture.
Culture proves to be a critical component in understanding the process of planned change and transformation in colleges and universities today. The significance of organizational culture becomes particularly clear as we operationalize institutional transformation.
They state that institutional transformation: The purpose of this digest is to review the research on institutional transformation as it is relates to organizational culture. However, members of an organization often take its culture for granted and do not truly evaluate its impact on decisions, behaviors, and communication or consider the symbolic and structural boundaries of organizational culture until external forces test it.
Therefore, when initiating transformation efforts it becomes critical to understand and explicate the values and personal meanings that define organizational culture. In their study of organizational values and institutional change, they found that organizations characterized by collegial values i.
Although characteristics of all four value structures can be found in educational environments, the researchers Organizational culture and institutional transformation that the majority of colleges and universities included in their study were classified as collegial organizations and, therefore, perhaps surprisingly, viewed change positively.
While culture clearly affects how the members of the organization perceive change, the elements of culture are usually unspoken tenets that are often taken for granted.
Therefore, in order to gain a better understanding of culture within the organization and as a component of the transformation process, the question becomes, how can we talk about that which is unspoken?
Kellogg Foundation provides some insight into how to gain a clearer understanding of culture through assessment in their Evaluation Handbook Context assessment, particularly in the form of organizational assessment, provides the most information regarding organizational culture and proves to be a useful tool for institutional transformation.
Organizational assessment includes questions regarding the characteristics of institutional leadership, resource allocation, institutional structure, the flow of decision-making, and ties to external organizations.
When conducted prior to transformation efforts, such an exercise provides rich information about the environment, the fit between the change initiative and existing organizational culture, and institutional readiness for change.
Therefore, assessment represents one of the primary means to develop readiness. Two other ways to develop institutional readiness for transformation efforts are: Research on institutional transformation indicates that an important cultural condition for change is the existence of trust among the various members of the campus community.
A second condition that is necessary for an effective change environment is the use of planning strategies that are open, participative, aligned with campus culture and goals, and long-term. It is especially relevant to colleges and universities in light of their longstanding tradition of criticism and a wide variety of sub- or counter-cultures.
Sub-cultures—based on organizational role, institutional position, or disciplinary affiliation—often flourish within the university environment, supporting their own set of customs, beliefs, and practices that are frequently incongruent with the larger university culture, not to mention the goals of most transformation efforts Clark, It is the conflicting priorities and values among sub-cultures that most often contribute to resistance toward change efforts.
Historically, the greatest clash has occurred between administrators—often the initiators and leaders of campus transformation efforts—and the faculty—the body frequently charged with implementing educational changes Kashner, ; Swenk, When long held cultural beliefs are challenged by change efforts, faculty naturally perceive the change initiative as threatening.
Thus, unless these cultural elements are directly addressed, resistance will be the usual response to any transformation effort. While conflict can be disruptive within any campus environment, resistance is not always negative. In many ways, resistance is an inevitable part of institutional transformation.
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Even planned change in an environment that has been properly prepared results in a certain amount of disequilibrium, such as initial cost increases or a short-term decrease in efficiency as individuals break old habits and become familiar with new processes and structures.
Therefore, resistance can be perceived as an indicator that the change effort has permeated the outer layers of the institution and is moving beyond a state of adjustment or isolated change to alter the cultural and structural elements of the institution on the collective level.
During the first two stages, employees exhibit anger and tension and experience greater feelings of chaos at work. As a means of moving beyond resistance, Reynolds suggests readying the environment for change, including encouraging open communication, emphasizing the big-picture vision, and maintaining trust among the employees and management.
It appears that institutional readiness for change is inversely related to the resistance experienced during the transformation effort. Reynolds also points out that once individuals move beyond the denial and resistance phases, there is usually a great burst of energy and activity among institutional members.
RESULTSIf resistance indicates that the innovation has reached the cultural level of the institution, a significant cultural shift truly verifies that transformation has occurred. The more an innovation is integrated into the culture of the organization, the more likely we will be to see changes in the rewards structure and in decision-making strategies and the more likely the transformation effect will be sustained Farmer, In his work on the success and failure of innovations in higher education, Levine pinpoints incompatibility and lack of profitability as the two primary barriers to positive transformation results and, therefore, the main reasons that innovations i.
Because needs are an outgrowth of cultural aspects of an institution, such as the purpose and mission, profitability can also be interpreted as a cultural element. Levine states that planned changes in colleges and universities may avoid failure by maximizing profitability and congruence.
Therefore, the outcomes and results of innovation and change are embedded in the culture of organizations.The discussion of organizational culture’s importance in institutional transformation will be organized around three primary aspects of the change process: 1) readiness for, and responsiveness to, institutional transformation, 2) resistance to planned change, and 3) the results of the transformation process.
The discussion of organizational culture’s importance in institutional transformation will be organized around three primary aspects of the change process: 1) readiness for, and responsiveness to, institutional transformation, 2) resistance to planned change, and 3) the results of the transformation process.
Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the. She studies processes of organizational and institutional change and has explored the role of routines, issue selling, and culture in enabling and inhibiting change.
Her work has been published in Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Organization & Environment, and several other journals. Note: Citations are based on reference standards. However, formatting rules can vary widely between applications and fields of interest or study.
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