Getting organizational change right in public services: the case of European higher education

T. Diefenbach

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of this article is to instigate further debate on why organizational change is currently being initiated and how it is being managed in European Higher Education. It provides suggestions on how to avoid major downsides that come with managerialism and how to enable managers and academics in the sector to concentrate on what Higher Education should be all about: to contribute to the further development of society through knowledge generation and transfer. The article is based on observations of the current developments triggered by the rise of the audit culture and adoption of managerialism. It suggests that not all change currently initiated in Higher Education is required - or indeed in the best interest of the sector or wider society - but rather, based on personal interests resulting in less efficiency and a waste of resources. Furthermore, the article argues that the audit culture and managerialism have created an environment that encourages opportunistic behaviour such as cronyism, rent-seeking and the rise of organizational psychopaths. This development will arguably not only lead to a waste of resources, change for the sake of change, further centralization, formalization and bureaucratization but, also, to a disheartened and exploited workforce, and political and short-term decision-making. The article proposes ways of managing organizational change in Higher Education successfully by providing a new conceptual change management model and a decision-maker's change manifesto.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-35
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Change Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


    • audit culture
    • change capacity
    • change management
    • change readiness
    • higher education
    • managerialism


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