Analyzing Organizational Change in Higher Education

Peter Maassen, Åse Gornitzka

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    In this paper an approach for studying organizational change in higher education is presented. Two theoretical perspectives on organizational change are outlined. First, a resource dependence perspective emphasising that organizational change must be understood by looking at how organizations perceive their environments. How do organizations act to control and avoid dependencies in order to maintain organizational discretion and autonomy of action? A (sociological) neo-institutional framework for studying change in higher education organizations emphasizes the cognitive and normative elements in the environment. When organizations change according to institutionalized expectations, they do so in a context of taken for granted norms and beliefs. Both perspectives represent valuable analytical frameworks that can be combined fruitfully. In addition the article focuses on one major environmental actor for higher education, the state. How do government policies and programs influence organizational change processes? With reference to both resource dependence theory and neo-institutional perspective relevant aspects of policymaking as well as characteristics of the content of policies and programs are presented. It is argued that there is a need for seeing interaction of the government with universities and colleges as located in an overall system of state steering of higher education. Four state (or governance) models have been discussed grasping different approaches to national policymaking, steering, and governance of higher education in Europe and the way these affect change processes in universities and colleges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationComparative Perspectives on Universities
    EditorsRagnvald Kallenberg, Fredrik Engelstad, Grete Brochmann, Arnlaug Leira, Lars Mjøset
    Place of PublicationStamford, Connecticut
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-84950-059-3
    ISBN (Print)978-0-76230-679-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

    Publication series

    NameComparative social research
    PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
    ISSN (Print)0195-6310


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