An organizational analysis of structural characteristics during the merger of two higher education organizations Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d504rn728

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  • Organization theory had seldom been applied to higher education organizations but recent developments in organization theory appeared to have potential for such application. No coherent theory of educational change had been developed. However, one multidisciplinary synthesis of literature on organizational change was congruent with modern organization theory and contained both a set of predictions and a rationale which could be tested in a study of organizational change. Concurrently, the Oregon State University (OSU) School of Education and the Western Oregon State College (WOSC) Division of Education merged to form the OSU-WOSC School of Education. This merger presented an opportunity to test hypotheses about changes of formalization/standardization, centralization, complexity and specialization during organizational change. Additional hypotheses concerning interactions between the above dimensions of organizational structure and interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, institutionalization of dual structures, need for change, uncertainty associated with change, and the unique nature of the change were also tested. The qualitative methodology consisted of a combination of participant observation, structured interviews and study of documents. As the organization progressed from initiation to implementation of change, formalization/standardization and centralization increased while complexity decreased. The high disciplinary specialization of participants facilitated initiation of change by increasing the flow of information. The high disciplinary specialization of participants impeded implementation of change because the disciplinary expertise did not include management. Positive and cooperative interpersonal relationships contributed to the resolution of conflict and facilitated the institutionalization of dual structures. High need for change and high uncertainty associated with change were strongly related to the extent of differentiation of structure. The unique nature of the change was weakly related to the extent of differentiation of structure. The results were those predicted on the basis of the information needs of the organization. However, a rationale based on the information needs of the organization was inadequate for full explication of the interactions between variables. Recommendations for further study include application of organization theory to higher education organizations, development of a coherent theory of educational change, and additional studies of this merger.
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