Reinventing program design

Academic Article


  • PurposeThe purpose of this article is to build a framework for thinking about radical program redesign as a broad, forward‐looking, sustainable institutional change process rather than a traditionally narrow, periodic “project” aimed primarily at comparisons with past performance. The paper seeks to examine the transformational journey of a US public research university's AACSB‐accredited business school during its efforts to reinvent itself for the long term after decades of unsatisfactory continuous improvement initiatives. The key success factor is developing more of a learning‐oriented culture to enable ongoing performance monitoring and corresponding variations in strategies, structure, and action.Design/methodology/approachThe paper takes the form of a qualitative case study.FindingsInitiating radical change in educational institutions requires some type of crisis without which there is a remarkable deficiency in faculty members' motivation to learn. Once awakened by compelling data that disconfirm their illusions of effectiveness, a critical mass of faculty members can readily lead cultural and structural changes that enable ongoing advances in their programs and colleges. Sustainable planned change depends on a culture of disciplined commitment to data, information, and knowledge that are effectively communicated by the principal change agent and swiftly translated into new, appropriate action.Research limitations/implicationsThis is a single case study of a US business school whose cultural and political nuances may differ from non‐US educational institutions, thereby limiting the value of the learning process and outcomes that are reported. In addition, the paper describes and explains a relatively short‐term four‐year change process whose assessment would no doubt benefit from a seven to eight‐year retrospective analysis.Practical implicationsThe paper illuminates many of the commonly observed cultural and political dynamics in educational institutions that both promoted and inhibited the faculty's progress during the redesign, and considers the faculty's future path based on perceptions about the challenges that emerged from its recent transformation. Other business school faculty can distil insight from the report to guide their own journeying.Originality/valueThis is one of a very small number of theoretically grounded reports of a graduate faculty's efforts to redesign its MBA program for a creative, good fit with twenty‐first century global economic realities. More and more business schools are starting to move in a similar direction to this and their faculties could gain a great deal from the experience reported here.
  • Authors

  • Barnett, Carole
  • Shore, Barry
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 6, 2009
  • Has Subject Area

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 16
  • End Page

  • 35
  • Volume

  • 30
  • Issue

  • 1