Valuing the significance of difference in organisational change

L Huxley, J Chambers, B Thackwray, P Blackmore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


In 1908, Cornford wrote of the innate conservatism of academia. Yet Eastwood (2007) contends that “universities and colleges have now emerged as the most transformed public service - resilient and productive”. Empirical evidence from our recent national project (Chambers et al, 2007) indicates that the ‘competitive market’ in which higher education institutions (HEIs) now operate provides a significant driver for institutional change; HEIs perceive a need to identify and maximise their ‘distinctive’ offering. ”Enhancing Organisational Development (OD) Capability in English Universities” was a project under HEFCE’s Leadership, Governance and Management Fund. The aim was to help English HEIs become more self-sufficient in identifying their own OD needs; managing and sustaining an effective response to those needs and recognising and learning from good practice elsewhere. The project team proposed an initial online survey; face-to-face interviews in a cross-section of HEIs; a small number of case studies; liaison with relevant professional organisations and comparison with findings from related work. We took as our definition of Organisational Development “A set of explicit processes carefully planned and implemented to benefit the performance of the organisation as a whole.” In essence, OD in English higher education is about helping each institution to harness more of its collective talents in order to succeed in the various joint endeavours now required of it: enhancing the quality of the student experience; supporting and directing the expansion and extension of the field of human knowledge and understanding; establishing thriving enterprise ventures. The benefits from OD actions can be described in terms of the organisation’s capacity to shape its own identity and determine its own direction in response to shifting circumstances . Emerging from the project’s findings (and from follow-up conversations in a range of fora), is the significance for HEIs of valuing difference in OD players, perspectives and approaches.
Translated title of the contributionValuing the significance of difference in organisational change
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociety for Research in Higher Education (SRHE): Revaluing Higher Education, Liverpool
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

Medium/genre: Conference paper presentation
Conference Organiser: SRHE


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