Organizational Change in
the 21st Century: Recent Research
SEVERAL CONDITIONS have coalesced in recent years that necessitate a synthesis of the organizational change literature. There are more pronouncements of crisis in higher education today than ever before, coming from both within and outside of the academy (Birnbaum, 2000). Whether this is actually a time of crisis is debatable, yet it is clear that higher education faces a host of changes that can no longer be ignored. The list of transforming forces has become so common that it is almost unnecessary to name them—technology, new teaching and learning approaches such as community-service learning or collaborative learning, cost constraints, changing demographics, international competition, assessment, accountability, diversity/multiculturalism, and other challenges create a complex climate. (For a detailed look at each of these forces, see Green and Hayward, 1997.) These challenges have, in some cases, created stress in institutions (Green and Hayward, 1997; Leslie and Fretwell, 1996). Not only is change described as necessary based on external pressures, but also the sheer number of major changes keeps increasing (Green and Hayward, 1997; Leslie and Fretwell, 1996).
Some scholars describe the changing context as a reason to reexamine organizational structures and culture, necessitating internal change. Bergquist, for example, describes the postmodern era as posing new challenges for organizations, particularly around the issue of change (1998). Postmodernism requires organizations to change their size and shape to respond to a more fragmented and complex environment. Reexamining the institutional mission is a major priority (Bergquist, 1998; Cameron and Tschichart, 1992). As institutions rethink their reasons for being, the institutions themselves change their