Researching Organisational Change in Higher Education: A Holistic Tripartite Approach


  • Dr Lois Farquharson
  • Dr Tammi Sinha
  • Susanne Clarke


Appreciative Inquiry, Organisational Change, Lean Management, World café, Story-telling, Participative Action Research.


In the UK context, it is important to acknowledge that there are multiple change drivers in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that result in a proliferation of foci. Gornitzka (1999) and Allen (2003) suggest that the distinctiveness of governance, professional autonomy and the tradition of academic freedom in HEIs should be reflected in change processes, and therefore traditional frameworks for change could be adapted in an attempt to research and manage change. This paper explores how theoretical and practical tools for managing and researching change can be integrated in order to support change, whilst reflecting on the methods used. The journey of the authors towards the development of a holistic framework for researching and supporting change in Higher Education (HE), with a focus on two HEIs, is explored. The synergies of Lean Management (Wincel and Krull, 2013), Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider and Srivastva 1987), and Participatory Action Research (Greenwood et al, 1993) are examined through three stages of practice‑based fieldwork to establish their positioning within a holistic tripartite framework for researching and supporting organizational change. The benefits and challenges of this framework are discussed with attention to the importance of future research to provide more evidence of the impact of this framework.



1 Oct 2018