Learning Is Change: Creating an Environment for Sustainable Organizational Change in Continuing and Higher Education

Christie Schultz

Abstract


This article explores the ways in which learning itself is a form of organizational change and, as such, supports organizational readiness for change. The study considers a continuing education unit within a major Canadian university that managed to transform its decentralized and independent student records and administration system (student registration, student financials, student academic records) by merging into the university’s central student management system.

The technological implementation and transformation took place over 18 months and was enabled by a series of formal committees and working groups, involving a wide range of members across the university’s communities and within the continuing education unit. The empirical data consist of responses given during in-depth interviews with a set of participants involved in the change initiative and technology implementation. Managers’ reactions to and reflections on organizational change figure prominently in the research findings and discussion.

The article aims to show that creating an environment for sustainable organizational change in higher education, and perhaps more generally, is supported by recognizing that learning itself is change, and that workplace learning may therefore help to create organizational readiness for change. 


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