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dc.contributor.authorOpperman, Mary George
dc.identifier.otherbibid: 9948802
dc.description.abstractABSTRACT The approach used by university leaders to advance institutional change effects the early reactions to the proposed change by faculty, students, staff and alumni. This paper explores the early stages of two significant changes at Cornell University to determine how leaders advanced the changes, and considers the impact of the approaches on campus reactions through the lens of research conducted by Larry Hirschhorn (1994). Hirschhorn advises leaders to advance change in ways that align with the loosely coupled nature of the organization. Cornell recently created a new applied science campus, Cornell Tech, in New York City and established a new Cornell College of Business on the Ithaca, NY campus. The leaders who advanced these changes did so using different change strategies. Based upon the research of Karl Weick (1976) and Larry Hirschhorn (1994) on loosely coupled organizations, Cornell functions consistent with the definition of a loosely coupled organization (Weick 1976). Larry Hirschhorn (1994) developed guidance to leaders about how to effectively advance change in a loosely coupled organization. He advised leaders to make changes in consideration of the following: • Align change plans with characteristics of the university and acknowledge the semi-autonomous status of units of the university • Protect the system by keeping it within its safety zone and managing its contradictions, and guide the system by developing strategic themes and building a planning framework • Make change “at the seams” between units of the university and boost synergistic combinations. (1994, p.2) The two change actions are considered relative to this guidance. This analysis indicates that the leaders who more closely adhered to Hirschhorn’s (1994) advice received more early support for their proposal from campus constituents than did the leaders who did not follow his guidance. To explore the two changes, detailed timelines of the early stages of each change were developed using publicly available information. Information in these timelines informed analyses of the approaches used by university leaders and the reaction of campus constituents to the early stage actions. The impact of leadership actions on the reactions of faculty, staff, students, and alumni are based on the change tenets developed by Larry Hirschhorn (1994) for leaders of loosely coupled organizations. While neither change fully followed the guidance of the Larry Hirschhorn (1994), the leaders of the effort to create Cornell Tech were more considerate of the semi-autonomous nature of the various colleges and units of Cornell. They engaged faculty in developing the organizational design of the new campus and in establishing new academic programs. The new campus was created “at the seams” (Hirschhorn, 1994, p.5) of existing colleges and academic programs, leveraging new opportunities to collaborate and create new synergies. The leaders who advanced the establishment of the Cornell College of Business chose an approach that delayed involvement of campus constituents and provided the campus community little notice of the planned change. Their plan was to involve faculty, alumni and others after the decision to create the college was made by the board of trustees. The new college was not created “at the seams” (Hirschhorn,1994, p. 5) of existing schools and units – it changed the seams themselves. The goal of the new college is to create new collaborations and synergies between the three schools. Both changes – the creation of Cornell Tech and the establishment of the Cornell College of Business are currently in their early stages. Both changes may be considered successful once they are fully implemented. The change strategy used by the leaders who advanced Cornell Tech were more considerate of the university’s loosely coupled nature than was the strategy used by the leaders who pursued the establishment of the Cornell College of Business and this impacted how the change plans were received and responded to by campus constituents. Cornell Tech, a change made “at the seams” of existing colleges and units, garnered early support from faculty, students and alumni. The establishment of the Cornell College of Business, which changed the semi-autonomous nature of three schools and was not made “at their seams”, resulted in resistance by many campus community members. Leaders who respect the existing characteristics of the loosely coupled organization, create planning frameworks that involve key constituents and focus change “at the seams” between the semi-autonomous units of the organization may be more likely to garner campus support in the early stages of advancing a proposed change.
dc.subjectOrganizational behavior
dc.subjectloosely coupled
dc.titleChange in a Loosely Coupled Organization - Two Case Studies
dc.typedissertation or thesis and Labor Relations University of Science, Industrial and Labor Relations
dc.contributor.chairBacharach, Samuel
dc.contributor.committeeMemberSonnenstuhl, William James

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