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

CASE STUDY, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR
ET Cases - GSMC, 18 Pages

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.1

– 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.2 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?



1 Burke W. Warner and Debra A. Noumair, Organization development: A process of learning and changing. FT Press, 2015, 9

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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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)
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