Changing Models for Educational Organizations

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Introduction

Research recognizes that the nature of knowledge is dynamic. One of the issues requiring further investigation in the area of education is the rate of change of the value of knowledge over a given time. This rate of change of situations surrounding knowledge transfer and creation may be very high or very low (Allen, 2003). These changes are determined by the stability and homogeneity of the learning environments. Such environments have changed over the years. Education practitioners are challenged with the need to identify the right criteria for accommodating all changes in the present curriculum. Like business institutions, education institutions require rapid changes in order to customize their services to fit a diverse client base (Allen, 2003). As managers in the business sector, leaders in the educational sector must be able to initiate change for their institutions to adapt to changing needs (Huy & Henry, 2003). Sometimes, to cope with competition, organizations require adopting inter-organizational and intra-organizational changes (Carroll, 1985; Park & Krishnan, 2003).

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Today, the social, economic and political societies are faced with new problems and challenges, which require increased knowledge and experiences to tackle. These problems and challenges apply to the present as well as to the future. In deed, Stacey, Griffin and Shaw (2000) have posited that potential futures experience changes in the present, which present further difficulties to managing the future. This requires change or improvement of knowledge attainment methods employed traditionally.

Changing Needs and Models

Knowledge transfer depends on experience, which is attained through past practices. Experience imparts knowledge to people (Allen, 2003). Thus, any education curriculum must focus on imparting knowledge through experience and this means that they stop overreliance on older learning methods. In addition, educational institutions must challenge students and academicians to launch exploration beyond the present knowledge. Changes in the education system must be tailored to reflect the need to deal with present and future uncertainties. If the new challenges requiring changes in the education systems are viewed as a problem to be solved, the changes to be adopted to solve them must observe some criterion. The criterion first focuses on the identification of the actual problem and challenge. The second step should involve devising of some ideas to resolve the problem. The third step involves knowing what is meant by solving the problem (e.g. determining the actual performance improvement to be attained). The final step would be to evaluate and make sure that no other problem arises when the solution to the previous problem is implemented (Allen, 2003).

To develop a proper model for change in the education sector, we must recognize that education is a system comprising of different agents who exhibit different characteristics. These agents play important different roles into the system. Again, all of these agents must be considered for effective implementation of change to the whole system. The agents have the capability to compete or cooperate at any time, yet they depend on each other all the time. More over, new uncertainties are induced from time to time because changes in the behaviors exhibited by the co-existing agents are occurring as a result of learning. This point of view has been expressed by Allen (2003). Those considering performance of education system models must focus on the idea that the presence of various agents or stakeholders in the education system can facilitate positive system change. However, care must e has taken since negative results may arise due to such practices as competition.

Effective and positive change can be achieved in the system by creating linkages among all the partners (agents) in a manner that results to the overall success of the system in the current environment (Allen, 2003). The “pay offs” for the behaviors adopted by one agent or partner must be linked to the behaviors exhibited by other agents present. This is because behaviors of one agent affect (negatively and positively) other agents.

Types of Change

Education leadership must be prepared for change initiatives to arise from any agents (stakeholders) in the education system. Cochran, (2002) recognizes the role of leadership and leadership competence in managing system change. Education institutions have agents at different levels of leadership and authority, each of which is capable of initiating change. Education institutions must embrace the correct type of change needed in various times. Organizational change initiatives can arise from within (internal) the organization or external sources.

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In addition, change can be deterministic or voluntaristic (Park & Krishnan, 2003). Change in organization involves adopting ecological models (which focuses on the need for change of agents within a system so that the agents can respond to environmental demands), adaptation models (which focuses on the need for organizations to adopt incremental changes and shift its equilibrium in order to meet new opportunities and threats), and transformational model (which focuses on organization metamorphism) (Park & Krishnan, 2003). For effective adaptation, organizations need to foster innovation and transformation in their structures, as well as learn from other organizations (Park & Krishnan, 2003).

Clearly, the environments within which organizations operate dictate the nature of change necessary for them, and the results to be achieved after the changes are adopted. Like Van de Ven & Poole (1988), Park & Krishnan (2003) recommend that the relationship between organizations and their environments be studied through integration models. Such models need to include various perspectives. For instance, such models can include the adaptation, institutional and evolution perspectives of change.

The evolution model focuses on three perspectives, namely the transformational, ecological and adaptation perspectives. It has been argued that external forces are important for achieving organizational changes, and they may spark evolution. In addition, organizations are constantly evolving because of the desire to be stable, and the internal forces play an important aspect towards this evolution. This is because internal forces are associated with internal disability since they tend to act against previously adopted practices. Thus, no organization change model can ignore the need to consider either the internal forces, or the external forces. It appears that educational organizations, like any other organization, will be striving to achieve stability by changing to conform to internal demands, as well as changing to conform to external demands. Stability is also sought for, due the fact that organizations need to change to conform to external demands.

For adaptation, organizations need to search for the existing changes in the environment and then strategically adopt the necessary changes to survive (Miner, 1994). This means that voluntarism is part of organization’s adaptation to changes. The adoption of changes in this respect is so that they can survive even at difficult times (Cochran, 2002). It has been argued out that the environment does not play a bigger role in adaptation than does humans and organizations (Hrebiniak and Joyce, 1985). Therefore, it is important for organizations to adopt models which integrate all three aspects, namely humans, organizations and the environment. Since educational systems have various agents and are affected by outside forces also, external legitimacy is a very important factor. External legitimacy is established through an institutional perspective. Organizations may be considered well stable when they are conforming to specific rules and norms. In this case, the adaptation taking place is more stable in nature (Meyer and Rowan, 1977).

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Power and control of organizational change is an important factor for consideration in devising the change models. Research on change models has also been concerned with how power and control affect change. Change process in institutions can be perceived as planned or ‘performative’, according to Ford (2006). Managerial control dominance is evident in the rational-intentional model of change, while managerial control is only effective to managing on-going change process in the open-processional model of change. The open-processional model is characteristic of employees no longer being dependent on external force to carry out their daily duties. Instead, employees internalize this force and it motivates them from within (Ford, 2006).

The rational-intentional model is equivalent to the dynamic change model to be discussed later on. The rational-intentional model also corresponds to the rejuvenation model of organizational change as shall be seen later on in this paper. Modern organizations mostly require the open-processional model, but managerial or leadership power cannot be excluded from the practice. To manage such a change, Ford proposes the adoption of proper power relations for success. Cochran (2002) has also discussed the necessary aspects of leadership and system agents to initiate, managing and adopting to change in difficult times when organizations desperately need change. These include a sense of spirituality, ideation and downtoearthness.

Huy and Henry (2003) are of the opinion that order is required for effective organizational change. This is important for the adoption of any change in any organization. Dynamic change is adopted when there is a crisis or opportunity, and mostly, the initiative for change emerges from the top leadership. In these times, the leadership or powerful level of the organization has a lot of pressure for change. Systematic type of change results from consultants and staff, who have carefully considered quality of service and products, organization planning and efficiency of working in the organization. It is therefore considered lateral in nature.

Organic change initiatives emerge from lower ranks through unmanaged and unorganized processes such as employee politicking, when employees are venturing in new practices and through experiential learning. According to Huy and Henry (2003), all types of changes require support from all sectors of the organization. There must be an effort to create an appropriate rhythm for change. Huy and Henry (2003) indicate that there are three models of change, namely revolutionary (dramatic), rejuvenation (organic in nature) and reform (mainly systematic in nature). The authors reveal that there is a linkage between organic, dramatic and systematic leadership. Revolutionary change must support both the systematic and organic types of change to succeed. Reforms need to be energized, and planned. For the rejuvenation model to work, the organizational leadership must foster innovation and empower employees to try out new things.

References

Allen, M. (1993). Evolution: Persistent ignorance from continual learning. In A. Peter, Nonlinear dynamics & evolutionary economics. New York: Oxford University Press, 101-112.

Allen, P. M., & Strathern, M. (2003). Evolution, emergence, and learning in complex systems. Emergence, 5(4), 8–33.

Carroll, G. (1984) Organizational ecology. Annual Review of Sociology, 10, 71-93.

Cochrane, I. (2002). Survival of the fittest. Design Week, 17(23), 4–7.

Ford, R. (2006). Open-processional change: Three principles of reciprocal-relational power. Journal of Change Management, 6(2), 193–216.

Hrebiniak, L. G. & Joyce, W. F. (1985). Organizational adaptation: Strategic choice and environmental determinism. Administrative Science Quarterly, 30, 336-349.

Huy, O. N., & Mintzberg, H. (2003). The rhythm of change. MIT Sloan Management Review, 44(4), 79.

Meyer, J. & Rowan, B. (1977). Enstitutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myths and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 82, 431-450.

Miner, A. (1994). Seeking adaptive advantage: Evolutionary theory and managerial action. In L. Baum, & J. Singh. (Eds.), Evolutionary Dynamics of Organization. New York: Oxford University Press, 76-89.

Park, D., & Krishman, H. A. (2003). Understanding the stability-change paradox: Insights from the evolutionary, adaptation, and institutionalization perspectives. International Journal of Management, 20(3), 265–270.

Stacey, R., Griffen, D., Shaw, P. (2000). Complexity and emergence in organizations. London: Routledge.

Van de Ven, H. & Poole, S. (1988). Paradoxical requirements for a theory of organizational change. In R. Quinn & K.S. Cameron (Eds.), Paradox and Transformation. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.

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