An analysis of selected variables influencing organization change : a pre-Board Governance study of Red River Community College

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Watts, Dale M.
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organizations are continually changing, in part to respond to the growth of technology and the trend toward globalization. There are numerous interdependent variables that influence organizational change, which suggests that change is best perceived from an open systems framework. There are few, if any, simple cause-effect relationships. when organizations experience strong driving forces for or restraining forces against change, it tends to create organizational disequilibrium, which can deteriorate into chaos if the forces are strong enough. However, much of the contemporary literature suggests that an organization's diseguilibrium can be brought into balance by timely transformational leadership and visionary strategic planning or improvisation. The manifestation of leadership and planning may include changes to both an organization's culture and climate. This study of the organizational change process focuses upon Red River Community College in Winnipeg, Manitoba essentially during the period from its inception until April 1, 1993, at which time the college came under Board Governance. The research approach consisted of a literature review, the conduct of an empirical survey of employee attitudes, and participant observation by the author who is presently a senior administrator at the college. Overall, the dissertation is more qualitative than quantitative in its orientation reflecting the fact that important dimensions of organizational life defy empirical measurement. The quantitative and qualitative statistical and anecdotal evidence gathered to support the hypothesis suggests that the employees in the organization felt a moderate to high leve1 of dissatisfaction with many organizational processes, the organizational climate and some management behaviours prior to the introduction of Board Governance. However, there is insufficient quantitative evidence to attribute the cause of dissatisfaction to a deficiency of leadership or poor management practices. The dissertation concludes that the hypothesis was not fully proven. However, other qualified conclusions were that: effective leadership and management can help minimize the complexity of organizational change, strategic improvisation may be more appropriate than strategic planning in turbulent environments, organizational climate changes are more likely to occur in an organic paradigm; and effective communication processes are integral to organizational transformation. A longitudinal study would be required to confirm the validity of the dissertation findings. Despite some similarities, a community college system situated within a public sector environment is sufficiently different from most public sector environments to inhibit generalizations about their comparability.