Change management: a grounded-theory case study of a large organisation's efforts to introduce a new system of personnel performance management
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This is the report of a study into educational change. The purpose of the investigation was to observe and analyse an example of a system-wide policy change through an intensive and disciplined case study, in order to develop a theory about the implementation of a particular change process and use that theory to account for the way the observed change process proceeded. Although change and how it was achieved in a large, complex bureaucratic organisation was the primary focus for theory development and understanding, the role of the management personnel in the change process was also of interest. The introduction of performance management (in particular, promotion-by-merit within the Western Australian Ministry of Education) was the change example under consideration. In contrast to the traditional way-of-studying-educational change, the present study adopted a participant observation case study using a grounded theory approach (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), because of its use in a previous study (Heaven, 1987) and in addition, the literature review indicated a lack of grounded theory studies in this area. Grounded theory is not the only methodology which can generate theory grounded in the data. However,it does ensure that a well-connected and comprehensive theory will emerge and that the theory which does emerge will be clearly and demonstrably grounded in the data from which it derives. Seven major factors or categories were identified from this grounded theory study. These factors included values, antagonists, ethos, infrastructure, equivocation, communication and culture. Five models of change were developed.The first model was developed by analysing the literature using grounded theory methodology as a metaphor and the literature was mapped in a way which had not been done before. The result was the identification of eight 'categories' of findings in the literature,which, taken together, constitute an emergent sense of a 'theory' of educational change. The second and third models focused on the implementation of the specific policy change examined. The fourth and fifth models were developed as generic models of change implementation which, it is suggested, may be applicable in varying degrees to other comparable change implementation situations. The five models developed in this study provide managers with relatively simple ways of conceptualising a complex process- and provide a set of reference points or stages for action. Recommendations for further research include the application of grounded theory methodology to the totality of the literature on educational change, further investigation of the role and importance of an organisation's culture and its values in the implementation of change, and further study of the role played by illusions in the change implementation process.
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