Organisational learning in the University: a case study of change in higher education

McKenzie, Dawn (2017) Organisational learning in the University: a case study of change in higher education. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Higher education is facing many challenges as universities contend with significant ongoing dynamic change in the external environment. As student expectations and needs evolve, many universities are reviewing the systems they use to support their business processes.

This study investigates the process of change using a theoretical framework which combines the related concepts of organisational learning and knowledge management, underpinned by a complexity theory paradigm. Examining the experience of one university over a period of several years, the study identifies the changes which have impacted upon academic advising staff using a case study methodology which has been informed by action research. This methodology employs a mixed methods approach which facilitates a deeper understanding of the source of problems and enables the critique of organisational systems. Using the knowledge management techniques of collaboration, mapping and taxonomies, the study involved processual enquiry and review as new knowledge emerged and was placed within the context of the wider organisation (Dawson, 2014). The Burke-Litwin Causal Model of Organizational Performance and Change (Burke and Litwin, 1992) was employed to analyse organisational documentation and focus group feedback and the complexity inherent in higher education and the causal effects of organisational change are examined. Such an investigation provides a means by which the discrepancies between the university’s espoused theory and its theory-in-use (Argyris and Schön, 1978) can be identified and used to enhance organisational learning within the university.

The main findings reveal tensions which arise from the ‘loosely versus tightly coupled systems’ of the university (Burke, 2014) and from the requirement for staff to place new and revised processes within their knowledge of previous systems. Recommendations are made which are aimed at improving advising and student records system processes as well as enhancing knowledge management and organisational learning within higher education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Organisational learning, change management, processual enquiry, knowledge management, higher education, complexity theory.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Professional Learning and Leadership
Supervisor's Name: Enslin, Prof. Penny and Forde, Prof. Christine
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Dawn McKenzie
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8210
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 15:45
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 15:58
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