Mod 3 Week 9 Institutional Change

[The organising structure behind this post was suggested by another team member, and much of the actual body text is taken directly from others’ posts or is adapted from those. The report is not in its finished state. The final content additions and editing were completed by others.]


Institutional change within a higher education institute (HEI) is a complex and multifaceted concept (Stensaker, Valimaa, & Sarrico, 2012). Motivations for change derive from various sources: from globalisation, political movements within a localised sector, to broader social pressures demanding different types of education, to tensions from within the HEIs themselves as disciplines alter and pedagogic aims shift (Stensaker et al., 2012). Accordingly, the members of LTB have described strategies for change that reflect the breadth of purposes and sources of change. These strategies fall into three categories: people – strategies that require adaptations by institutional personnel in some capacity; processes – refinements or alterations to the policies and structural mechanics of the HEI; and culture – the call to analyse the sets of beliefs, assumptions and values that the HEI embodies (Schein, 2004). 

Strategies for people

Ultimately, change is performed by individuals. Engaging the academic community through a process of critical and transformative learning and critical reflection encourages the stimulation of lasting difference (Brookfield, 2000). This may be enabled by generating teamwork among faculties, by encouraging communities of practice in social learning environments that generate modes of belonging and identification among its members (Wenger, 2000). Brookfield (2000) cites Mezirow’s “critical self-reflection on assumptions” (p. 4) invites practitioners to reflection on those potentially occluded aspects of systems that ultimately have a role in shaping beliefs and values in an individual. Morgan’s (1997) metaphors of organisational culture acts as a useful lens through which to understand more critically the collegial cultural environment in which practitioners operate, and by turning the lens inward, understand themselves more fully. For an organisation to develop its capacity for transformational learning, each individual member of the faculty can benefit from teacher training, and importantly, teacher collaboration (Licona & Cashman, 2007). Involving instructors in the process of organisation design and planning results in the promotion of university objectives: for example, in improving student retention rates (OECD, 2015).

Strategies for Process

Learning organisations need refinements at the level of institutional memory. This entails the creation or improvements of apparatuses that transcend the individual and allow for systematic growth (Senge, 1990). Assuring quality has become a prerequisite of the modern HEI, and it is crucial to demonstrate accountability through quality assurance systems (Sarker, Davis, & Tiropanis, 2010). Furthermore, learning environments require system-wide sustenance through supportive policies and additional resource funding and allocation (OECD, 2015). The processes in some collegiate HEIs are characterised as sluggish (Yonezawa, 2014), especially when facing existential threat which requires a rapid response (Oba, 2010). The top-down Kirkpatrick model of evaluation through change (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2008) describes choice as emanations from positions of authority. These reduce the input necessary for decision making and permit more rapid change. However, collegial organisations may expect resistance (JISC, n.d.) as the politics of exclusion following the centralising of control may be interpreted negatively by erstwhile influential organisation members.

Strategies for Culture

This needs to be added …

Category Team Member Strategy for Change
People S Involve institutional members in processes
    Generate teamwork among faculties
  S Instructors’ input into instructional design
  C University teacher transformation/ education
    Investigate the political nature of the collegial culture
  L Blended learning
Processes S Strategic plan for QA
  S Student retention
    Supportive policies and resource allocation
  J Top-down model to break consensus
    Curricular change (through gamification)
Culture C Investigate the political nature of the collegial culture
  J Critical race theory
  L Voluntary work
    New philosophy of managerialism

Table 1. Strategies for organisational change


[Don’t forget to re-order the additional ones.]

Brookfield, S. D. (2000). Transformative learning as ideology critique. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress (pp. 125–150). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kirkpatrick, D. L., & Kirkpatrick, J. D. (2008). Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels. Evaluating Training Programs. San Francisco, CA, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

JISC. (n.d.). Change management. Retrieved December 5, 2015, from

Licona, M., & Cashman, T. G. (2007). Educational Change and Challenges: Constructivist, Collaborative Ideals in Teacher Preparation. Essays in Education, 19, 1–9.

Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Oba, J. (2010). Governance of the Incorporated Japanese National Universities. In K.-H. Mok (Ed.), The Search for New Governance of Higher Education in Asia (pp. 85–102). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sarker, F., Davis, H., & Tiropanis, T. (2010). A Review of Hhgher education challenges and data infrastructure responses. International Conference for Education Research and Innovation (ICERI2010), 1–10.

Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational Culture and Leadership. Leadership, 7, 437.

Senge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday.

Stensaker, B., Valimaa, J., & Sarrico, C. (2012). Managing Reform in Universities: The Dynamics of Culture, Identity and Organizational Change. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Communities of Practice, 1–19.

Yonezawa, A. (2014). The Academic Profession and University Governance Participation in Japan: Focusing on the Role of Kyoju-kai. Educational Studies in Japan: International Yearbook, 8, 19–31.


About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a private university.
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