Understanding organizational change in cultural context: Chief academic officers' acquisition and utilization of cultural knowledge in implementing institutional change

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

This study examines planned organizational change from an ethnographic perspective, focusing on the role of the chief academic officer (provost or senior vice-president/chancellor for academic affairs) acting as a change agent in public research universities. An ethnographic approach to the study of planned change is adopted because organizational culture has emerged as a pivotal variable in the success of institutional change initiatives (Bates, Khan & Pye, 2000; Tierney, 1988; Trice & Beyer, 1991). The study focuses on the role of newly appointed chief academic officers (CAOs) as they plan and implement academic change initiatives. By selecting CAOs who have been recruited to their positions from outside the institution, this study provides insight into the processes by which cultural knowledge is both acquired and utilized in planning and implementing institutional change. Research methodology and data collection consist of extensive ethnographic analysis conducted in residence at a single target institution, followed by subsequent campus visits to three comparator institutions. Data analysis from the target institution provides a basis for deriving a Model of Organizational Change in Cultural Context, delineating the role of organizational culture in influencing the planning, implementation and impact of academic change initiatives on institutions of higher education, with emphasis on the role of the CAO as an agent of change. The utility of this model is illustrated using data from the three comparator institutions. Conclusions are derived regarding the processes by which CAOs acquire and utilize knowledge of institutional culture in implementing planned academic change; the ways in which elements of institutional culture shape these initiatives and their implementation, as well as mediate the impact of change on various aspects of the academic community; and the extent to which cultural variation and ambiguity moderate the nature and extent of these impacts. Implications for leading institutional change are framed in terms of recent efforts to reform public institutions of higher education, and theories of planned organizational development and change.

Indexing (details)

Higher education;
School administration;
Cultural anthropology
0745: Higher education
0514: School administration
0326: Cultural anthropology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; Chief academic officers; Cultural knowledge; Institutional change; Organizational change
Understanding organizational change in cultural context: Chief academic officers' acquisition and utilization of cultural knowledge in implementing institutional change
Latta, Gail Frances
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 67/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Torraco, Richard J.
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln
University location
United States -- Nebraska
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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