Tacit Culture and Change: A Model of Change Constructed From Institutional Assumptions and Beliefs
Higher education today faces a conflict between increasing societal demands and decreasing budgets. Innovation and change in higher education occur in the face of limited institutional resources. Meeting the challenges confronting colleges and universities is best accomplished by applying planned change efforts that recognize tacit culture (underlying assumptions and beliefs) and incorporate these cultural components into the change process. To date, however, change theory in higher education provides limited insight into institutional culture and how culture interacts with change. This is complicated by the fact that there are very few acknowledged methods for revealing tacit components of culture in higher education. This study provides the fields of change theory and institutional culture with, first, knowledge about revealing culture in higher education and, second, a model of change grounded in a single institution’s assumptions and beliefs. Using a variation of Sackmann's (1991) open-ended, issue focused interview method for uncovering tacit components of culture in corporate organizations, this study reveals cultural assumptions and beliefs about a planned change project in a two-year community college. Further, a model of change is constructed from the revealed assumptions and beliefs that explains the role of this tacit culture in the probable outcomes of the change project.