Examination Reform at the Sibelius Academy from 1974-1980: Implementation and Communication of Organizational Change

By Rajala, Isto; Ruokonen, Inkeri et al. | European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The, November 2013 | Go to article overview

Examination Reform at the Sibelius Academy from 1974-1980: Implementation and Communication of Organizational Change


Rajala, Isto, Ruokonen, Inkeri, Ruismäki, Heikki, European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The


1. Introduction

In the 1970s, examination reform spread across schools and universities in Europe. Even higher education in Finland would be irreversibly affected by this thorough reform. For arts academies in Finland it was going to be an even more meaningful reform than for the other universities in the field of traditional sciences. The examination reform itself would last for years. The official decisions at the university level would be made due to the Examination Reform Act enacted by the Government of Finland on 19 December 1974. This paper will discuss the process of examination reform at the Sibelius Academy, an academic institution of higher music education in Finland. It will concentrate on the period before the reform. The first steps in implementing the reform were crucial for the future. The status of the Sibelius Academy would change and provide new opportunities in the field of music instruction. The process would involve new structures and new ways for administrators and academics to think and act.

The Sibelius Academy, founded in 1882 by a private initiative, is today the largest music academy with university status in the Nordic countries. Since the beginning of 2013, it is a part of the University of the Arts Helsinki. The examination reform in the 1970s was one of the most important events in the history of the Sibelius Academy. The outlook for organizing higher education had changed. The mission for higher education was also shifting. The economic resources compared with the increasing number of students, academic unemployment and the demands of the society created distrust towards traditional free academic studies.

Sibelius Academy as an academic institution is built on artistic values but at the same time depended on financial aspects as well. According to Daigle & Rouleau (2010), arts organizations are built on multiple tensions between artistic and managerial values. Arts organizations consist of individuals and groups with different interests and ways of perceiving and evaluating the artistic processes. Agreements between arts and management can be achieved despite their contradictory natures (Chiapello, 1998). Because educational and financial policies affecting music education come from both governmental and other entities whether or not music education is connected with them, some of their effects are apparent and easily measurable while some others are not. Jones (2009) writes about concepts of "hard" and "soft" policies to illustrate the situation of administrative practices concerning the music educational field.

The knowledge of how to handle these agreements and processes is minor and according to Maitlis & Lawrence (2003) there is very little scientific research and understanding of the processes required to sustain them over time. The aim of this study is to increase this knowledge and find answers to questions about the processes that ensure the survival of the organization during the reform.

2. Problem Statement and purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to discover how the decision made to reform the examinations was implemented at the Sibelius Academy. Interviewees provided information on the status before the Act came into effect and the effects of the structural and cultural changes that followed.

3. Research Questions

The research problem was to determine what the process of examination reform was at the Sibelius Academy from 1974 to 1980. How was the examination reform implemented at the Sibelius Academy? How was the reform communicated? What were the reactions of the people involved when they heard of the reform at the Sibelius Academy?

4. Research Methods

This is a qualitative case study. The data collection of the research consists of eleven expert interviews. Nine of them were made personally with the interviewees, one by telephone and one by email. A method of semi-structured interviews has been used. …

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