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Planning for Higher Education Journal

April 1, 2013

“Be Prepared” for Policy Windows

Cultivating Campus Change

How can universities overcome the institutional inertia that impedes successful innovation and change?

From Volume 41 Number 3 | March–May 2013

Abstract: While universities recognize the need for change, establishing an environment conducive to change requires time and movement through stages. In this article, I examine different tools and processes that can pave the way for innovation or change. These processes became evident in my research on the emergence of an interdisciplinary policy school jointly established on two campuses where previous models did not exist. The change came about because there was a confluence of forces that promoted it; these factors were strong enough to negate the barriers. There were key actions undertaken by the universities that promoted the change, including systematic program review, university-wide integrated planning, the appointment of an executive sponsor who had social and political capital, and the establishment of a “grassroots” working committee comprising faculty who were passionate about the initiative. However, there were equally important practices and policies that hindered the movement forward; these included institutional procedures that required multiple levels of approval in a lock-step process and the many facets of resistance to change. For universities contemplating a change agenda, the implementation of some of these processes and tools could potentially be beneficial in moving forward.

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