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Transforming Higher Education: How Culture Disables a University’s Change Initiative*

CASE STUDY, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR
ET Cases - GSMC, 18 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Ranjeet Nambudiri - Associate Professor, Swati Ghulyani - Doctoral Student, IIM Indore

Case Preview

Transforming Higher Education: How Culture Disables a University’s Change Initiative

 

Organization Development is a process of fundamental change in an organization’s culture.

– Warner Burke


In 2010, Prof. Dinesh Singh (Dr. Singh) was appointed as the Vice Chancellor (VC) at the University of Delhi (popularly known as Delhi University or DU), a central university located in the capital of India. Five years after his appointment when his tenure came to an end, he left the office amidst scathing criticism and a host of controversies.

Singh’s vision was to transform higher education in India, to make it more relevant and meaningful so that it prepared the students to undertake the responsibility of the future of the country. But, was a single man’s passion enough to overhaul the higher education system adopted for almost a century by the University of Delhi? What went wrong? Why was an initiative that aimed at overall improvement, rejected with so much haste?

Higher Education in India

India celebrates 5th September each year to commemorate the birth anniversary of one of its greatest teachers, Dr. S Radhakrishnan. To quote him, “The most important and urgent reform needed in education is to transform it, to endeavor to relate it to life, needs and aspirations of the people and thereby make it the powerful instrument of social, economic and cultural transformation necessary for the realization of the national goals. For this purpose, education should be developed so as to increase productivity, achieve social and national integration, accelerate the process of modernization and cultivate social, moral and spiritual values.” .............

The University of Delhi

Delhi University, one of the oldest universities in India, was established in the year 1922 by an Act of the then Central Legislative Assembly. The Act designates the roles, responsibilities, decision making authority and power to various positions held at the University to accomplish daily tasks and to maintain the standards of education and examination within the University (Exhibit I). The University is highly regarded within India as well as abroad for its highest teaching and research standards...........

The Ex-Vice Chancellor’s Vision

Forty years ago, Dr. Singh enrolled in the University as a student in its Undergraduate programme unaware of the fact that one day he would be heading the University as its VC. After completion of his graduation and post-graduation in Mathematics from St. Stephens, one of the oldest colleges of the University, he enrolled into an M.Phil. Programme at DU..........

The Rise and Fall of FYUP

Four Year Under-Graduate Programme – An Introduction

The Four Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP) was launched in July 2013 with an aim to provide greater academic flexibility to its students and wide range of course choices. The biggest perceived advantage of this course was its design, which combined knowledge with practical and research skills. Another offering of this course was its objective to connect the youth to the needs of the industry and society, simultaneously broadening their understanding of historical legacies and current issues..............

The FYUP Divide-A Tale of Two Groups

The University of Delhi had been following the Two Year Post Graduation and Three Year Under-Graduate structure since long. However, in the Academic Year 2009-2010 the Post- Graduation Degree courses were brought under the semester system. This change took place when Prof. Deepak Pental held the position of the Vice Chancellor at the University..............

Assignment Questions

The participants should be asked to read the case in advance along with a few supporting readings as suggested below. The discussion in the class may revolve around the following questions:

I Evaluate the need for introducing FYUP in DU?
II Why was the FYUP a radical initiative?
III Describe the process used by Dr. Singh to bring about the change? Evaluate the change process?
IV .................

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Important Highlights from the Delhi University Act, 1922

Exhibit II: Revised Curriculum details adapted from the University’s Annual Reports

Exhibit III: List of Foundation Courses Offered in First Year

Exhibit IV: Series of Events – From Inception to Rollback

Teaching Note Preview

Transforming Higher Education: How Culture Disables a University’s Change Initiative

 

Synopsis

Numerous insights can be drawn from a successful as well as a failed change process. These insights contribute to the learning of points of caution while undertaking a change process at any organization. Organizations these days, undergo the change process frequently to adapt to the environment and changing needs of the society. The forces of change may be external or internal to the organization. With every change process, a change agent is associated who is responsible to initiate the change and ensure its successful implementation. However, equally important is the role of change recipients and their acceptance or rejection of the change initiative, which forms an important factor in determining the success or failure of the process. With this background, we attempt to decode the events associated with the rise and fall of a radical change initiative at DU, one of the premier higher education institutions of India. The case revolves around the protagonist Dr. Dinesh Singh (or the change agent) and the change recipients.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding before the Classroom Discussion

As a prerequisite for conceptual understanding, the participants should be encouraged to refer the following readings/books before the session, which will help for a meaningful discussion and adequate analysis of the case in the classroom:

  • • Cummings, T. G., & Worley, C. G. (2005). Organization development and change. Cengage Learning. Chapter 2: The Nature of Planned Change; Chapter 20: Organization Transformation
  • • French, W. L. B., & Cecil, H. (1998). Organization development: behavioral science interventions for organization improvement. Pearson. Chapter 14: Issues in Consultant-Client Relationships: Chapter 16: Power, Politics, and Organization Development.
  • • Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. 59-67
  • • Ford, J. D., & Ford, L. W. (2009). Decoding resistance to change. Harvard Business Review, 87(4), 99-103.
  • • O’Connor, C. A. (1993). Resistance: The repercussions of change. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 14(6), 30-36.

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This case can be effectively used in MBA/PGP, Executive MBA/PGP, Management/Executive Development Programmes, for courses like Organization Change and Development with a class duration of 75-90 minutes. It may also be used for training participants looking for Consulting Jobs.

The case unfolds various parallel events associated with a change initiative at a premiere Indian University and role of culture and stakeholders in the process.

Organizational Change and Development: This is an essential course in MBA/Executive Education in India as it prepares the participants to understand organizational change, development and devise change management plans in congruence with the culture of the organization they are associated with.

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$7.31
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Product code: OB-1-0054, OB-1-0054A

Abstract

The objective of this case study is to enable management students to ponder upon the significance of an organization’s culture in the success or failure of a change initiative. This case study, which is based on interviews and secondary sources of data, highlights the role played by the dominant culture prevailing at the University of Delhi, one of the oldest and most reputed universities of India, during the 2013-2014 FYUP (Four-Year Undergraduate Programme) fiasco. The University brought about several changes in the past few years to match the international standards for higher education. One such change –the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), was viewed as a complete overhaul of the University’s system. However, this radical change initiative could not survive even for a year. The University’s structure, its ideology about higher education, the power of Student and Teacher’s Union and the perceived autocratic style of the change agents were just a few reasons which could be attributed to this failure.

This case study enables management students to identify when change initiatives fail and to what extent the culture and subcultures of an organization facilitate/hinder  change initiatives. The students will also be able to understand what should be the qualities and attributes of a change agent while initiating changes which are focused on bringing changes in an organization’s culture.


Pedagogical Objectives

The case study will enable the participants to understand the:

  • Need for organizational change and development (Internal and External Factors)
  • Conditions of change readiness for an organization
  • Role of the organization culture in the change process
  • Resistance to Change (Barriers in terms of Individual/Group/Structural/Cultural aspects)
  • Significance of planning and acceptance of stakeholders for successful implementation of change
  • Role of a leader in the change process

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be effectively used in MBA/PGP, Executive MBA/PGP, Management/Executive Development Programmes for courses like Organization Change and Development with a class duration of 75-90 minutes. It may also be used for training participants looking for Consulting Jobs.

The case study unfolds various parallel events associated with a change initiative at a premiere Indian University and role of culture and stakeholders in the process.

Organizational Change and Development: This is an essential course in MBA/Executive Education in India as it prepares the participants to understand organizational change, development and devise change management plans in congruence with the culture of the organization they are associated with.


* GSMC 2017, IIM Raipur

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
$7.31
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