Managing Colleges and Universities: Issues for Leadership

By Allan M. Hoffman; Randal W. Summers | Go to book overview

2
The Practitioners Dilemma: Understanding and Managing Change in the Academic Institution

John S. Levin

College and university administrators have no easy chore. The pervasive call for planned change in the academic institution is resisted by the culture of the academy, a culture that is weighted heavily toward preservation and maintenance of the status quo, particularly the belief system of faculty and those administrators who moved from faculty ranks ( Adams 1976; Dill 1982). Additionally, the very nature of managerial work has entrenched qualities such as decisiveness, action, and control that predispose managers to favor change, indeed to stimulate change and characterize environments as turbulent or dynamic ( Crouch, Sinclair, and Hinte 1992; Mintzberg 1989, 1973). Yet the structure and patterns of managing in the modern organization require an approach that is both superficial in its understanding of organizational life and occasionally dysfunctional because of its insistence on control and the acquisition of power to maintain control ( Mintzberg 1989).

Among the many views about managing organizational change in the academic institution, two strike the practitioner with experiential realism. The first is that confrontation with change and its companions, contradiction and ambiguity, is endemic to management ( Quinn 1991). The second view is that the significance of change is socially constructed, invented, or fabricated by managers and organizational participants and based upon preexisting interpretations and understandings of organization ( Crouch et al. 1992; Ferris, Fedor, and King 1994; Morgan 1986). Unfortunately, within organizations there may be no consensual meaning or understanding of organizational behaviors, thus change whether planned or unplanned

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