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Sustaining change in higher education administrative student services

Robin P Krakowsky, Johnson & Wales University


The study examined the factors that effect sustained organizational change in higher education administrative student services. A provisional model of factors effecting sustainability of change, proposed by Buchanan and associates (2007), was used as the theoretical framework. A qualitative research methodology was employed, because of the exploratory nature of the study. Change has become crucial to institutional survival, success, and long-term viability (Birnbaum, 1988). Internal and external environmental pressures influence institutional effectiveness, organizational efficiency, and student, faculty, and staff satisfaction (Burke, 2002). Yet, most change initiatives do not succeed and last (Senge, et al., 1999). Further, the literature on sustaining change is limited and organizational change in higher education is not well understood. This study sought to redress some of these shortcomings. After pilot testing, the theoretical model was applied to a purposeful sample of institutions of higher education in the Northeast (N = 3) identified by the IBM Best Practice Partners Group (2000) as having implemented and sustained exemplary change in student services over time. In addition, the institutions were selected for the study based on being private affiliated, potential richness of information, willingness to participate, and employment maintained by the change manager. From interviews with those involved in the change initiatives (N = 12), four factors emerged as critical primary factors to sustaining organizational change in student services: leadership factors, managerial factors, individual factors, and cultural factors. These findings are consistent with other studies that have shown change efforts to be more influenced by people and culture than anything else (Wellins & Murphy, 1995). Based on the study findings, a revised model of factors that effect sustained change in higher education administrative student services was developed, incorporating the primary factors and four secondary factors. The resultant model provides a tool for examining the likelihood of sustaining organizational change in administrative student services. The model can be used by institutions of higher education involved in change initiatives or contemplating change, as one component in planning or assessment. The findings and model extend the knowledge on sustaining change, but also can be used to improve change management practices.

Subject Area

Management|School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Krakowsky, Robin P, "Sustaining change in higher education administrative student services" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3315151.