Glass Walls: Examining Barriers to Change in Higher Education
Hillman College of Law (a pseudonym known as HCL furthermore) is a public law school in a large midwestern city with approximately 150 full-time employees (faculty and staff) serving ~1000 students. Declining student and employee retention rates have been attributed to a lack of progress and process improvement by stakeholders. The problem of practice this project examined is what hinders and facilitates change at HCL. The questions that guided this process were: 1. What is the current perception of the HCL community concerning the climate of change initiatives at the Law School? 2. What does the community believe is essential in implementing a change initiative? 3. What is the current focus for stakeholders in managing change? 4. What can HCL learn from this process? A multi-step, iterative method was used to analyze quantitative and qualitative data. This consisted of a multivariate analysis of survey responses and a correlational analysis of interview responses to explore the link between organizational justice and change management. It was discovered that: 1. The HCL community perceives a lack of organizational justice regarding change initiatives at the Law School. 2. The community wants to better understand why new processes and initiatives are occurring and how the changes impact them. 3. Despite their involvement, stakeholders perceive their impact/influence in a process to be minimal due to the involvement of other stakeholders. Based on these findings and the literature, I recommend that HCL be more agile in its approach to addressing high-impact change initiatives, alter the structure of standing committees to increase equity in decision-making, and improve organizational justice perceptions and trust through intentional sensegiving. HCL can use the results of this project to learn and foster a culture that has a positive relationship with change.