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«Abigail Jean Winter Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Faculty of Education Queensland University of ...»

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Abigail Jean Winter

Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty of Education

Queensland University of Technology

October 2013


Autoethnography, Change Fatigue, Change Resilience, Change Resistance, Communication, Ethnography, Higher Education, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Narrative, Organisational Change, Training, Trust The Human Cost Of Change: Tales from the campus about personal change fatigue, resistance, and resilience i Abstract For the last decade, one question has haunted me: what helps people to cope with large-scale organisational change in their workplace? This study explores the construct of personal change resilience, and its potential for identifying solutions to the problems of change fatigue and change resistance. The thesis has emerged from the fields of change management, leadership, training, mentoring, evaluation, management and trust within the context of higher education in Australia at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In this thesis I present a theoretical model of the factors to consider in increasing peoples’ personal change resilience as they navigate large-scale organisational change at work, thereby closing a gap in the literature on the construct of change resilience. The model presented is based on both the literature in the realms of business and education, and on the findings of the research.

In this thesis, an autoethnographic case study of two Australian university projects is presented as one narrative, resulting in a methodological step forward in the use of multiple research participants’ stories in the development of a single narrative. The findings describe the experiences of workers in higher education and emphasise the importance of considerate management in the achievement of positive experiences of organisational change.

This research makes a significant contribution to new knowledge in three ways. First, it closes a gap in the literature in the realm of change management around personal change resilience as a solution to the problem of change fatigue by ii The Human Cost Of Change: Tales from the campus about personal change fatigue, resistance, and resilience presenting models of both change failure and personal change resilience. Second, it is methodologically innovative in the use of personae to tell the stories of multiple participants in one coherent tale presented as a work of ethnographic fiction seen through an autoethnographic lens. By doing so, it develops a methodology for giving a voice to those to whom change is done in the workplace. Third, it provides a perspective on organisational change management from the view of the actual workers affected by change, thereby adding to the literature that currently exists, which is based on the views of those with responsibility for leading or managing change rather than those it affects.

This thesis is intended as a practical starting point for conversations by actual change managers in higher education, and it is written in such a way as to help them see how theory can be applied in real life, and how empowering and enabling the actual working staff members, and engaging with them in a considerate way before, during and even after the change process, can help to make them resilient enough to cope with the change, rather than leaving them burned out or disengaged and no longer a well-functioning member of the institution. This thesis shows how considerately managed large-scale organisational change can result in positive outcomes for both the organisation and the individuals who work in it.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables


Statement of Original Authorship


Chapter 1: Introduction to the Research

1.1 Background

1.2 Context

1.3 Significance, Scope, and Definitions

1.4 Research Questions

1.5 Thesis Outline

1.6 Summary of Chapter One

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Change Management

2.1.1 Change Resistance, Change Fatigue and Change Failure

2.1.2 Change Resilience

2.1.3 The Gap in the Literature Around Personal Change Resilience

2.2 The Research Context – Higher Education in Australia

2.3 Training

2.3.1 Adult Education

2.3.2 Evaluation

2.3.3 Mentoring

2.3.4 Self-Efficacy

2.4 Trust

2.4.1 History and Use of the Construct ‘Trust’

2.4.2 Antecedents and Outcomes of Trusting

2.4.3 Defining Trust

2.4.4 Elements of Trust

2.4.5 Modelling Trust During Organisational Change

2.4.6 Implications of Trust for Change Fatigue

2.5 Management

2.6 Leadership

2.7 Theoretical Implications of the Gap in the Literature Around Change Resilience........ 92

2.8 Summary of Chapter Two

iv The Human Cost Of Change: Tales from the campus about personal change fatigue, resistance, and resilience Chapter 3: Research Design

3.1 Design

3.2 Method

3.2.1 Site Selection

3.2.2 Site Context

3.2.3 Research Invitees and Participants

3.2.4 Anonymity

3.2.5 Site Entry and Risk Management

3.3 Data Sources

3.3.1 Documents

3.3.2 Interviews

3.3.3 Retrospective Recall

3.4 Data Analysis

3.4.1 Transcription

3.4.2 Data Making

3.4.3 Data Analysis

3.5 Quality Assurance

3.6 Ethics and Confidentiality

3.7 Presenting the Data

3.8 Summary of Chapter Three

Chapter 4: Results and Discussion

4.1 Presentation of the Findings

4.2 Introduction – “I couldn’t get complete and accurate data from anyone”

4.2.1 Introduction: Narrative

4.2.2 Introduction: Discussion

4.3 Tale One – “A lot depends on who’s driving the project”

4.3.1 Tale One: Narrative

4.3.2 Tale One: Discussion

4.4 Tale Two – “I trust the project managers to go and get the end users engaged and on board”

4.4.1 Tale Two: Narrative

4.4.2 Tale Two: Discussion

4.5 First Interlude – “Find the folks who can do things – build a network”

4.5.1 First Interlude: Narrative

4.5.2 First Interlude: Discussion

4.6 Second Interlude – “Sometimes we could make a change just through a business process, but we always go for the technology … just so we can also put a level of research in”

4.6.1 Second Interlude: Narrative

4.6.2 Second Interlude: Discussion

4.7 Tale Three – “After a while it became like a personal challenge, because this project was tagged to my name, and I was not going to let my name get rubbed through the mud”177 4.7.1 Tale Three: Narrative

4.7.2 Tale Three: Discussion

4.8 Tale Four – “The culture was very hierarchical. You have insiders and outsiders. And the insiders define change, and the outsiders accept it, or otherwise”

4.8.1 Tale Four: Narrative

4.8.2 Tale Four: Discussion

The Human Cost Of Change: Tales from the campus about personal change fatigue, resistance, and resilience v

4.9 Third Interlude – “We want the bleeding-edge technology”

4.9.1 Third Interlude: Narrative

4.9.2 Third Interlude: Discussion

4.10 Tale Five – “We don’t have to be accountable; as a university we are not bottom-line oriented”

4.10.1 Tale Five: Narrative

4.10.2 Tale Five: Discussion

4.11 Fourth Interlude – “I know that the partner and external consulting company people who worked on the team, on the project, are severely tarnished. Personally, they were just dismayed at the frustration that they had for about two years”

4.11.1 Fourth Interlude: Narrative

4.11.2 Fourth Interlude: Discussion

4.12 Tale Six – “I think I was treated really badly, but I’m still here. If you are treated so badly, it’s not a prison. You can leave if you want to”

4.12.1 Tale Six: Narrative

4.12.2 Tale Six: Discussion

4.13 Fifth Interlude – “Iteratively, if the changes are in the same organisational unit then there is some conscious or unconscious knowledge that is gathered, and people improve their practice”

4.13.1 Fifth Interlude: Narrative

4.13.2 Fifth Interlude: Discussion

4.14 Tale Seven – “You’ve got to have the change, the passionate change agent, and then someone that is the lead supporter that is protecting it and making it go ahead. Otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere”

4.14.1 Tale Seven: Narrative

4.14.2 Tale Seven: Discussion

4.15 Tale Eight – “Things that have people come along with you are the truth, the whole truth, the ungarnished truth”

4.15.1 Tale Eight: Narrative

4.15.2 Tale Eight: Discussion

4.16 Tale Nine – “It doesn’t matter if you come in on time. It doesn’t matter if you come in on budget. If doesn’t matter if you come in with a fabulous project, product, whatever, which does everything. If the users don’t use it, you’ve failed”

4.16.1 Tale Nine: Narrative

4.16.2 Tale Nine: Discussion

4.17 Sixth Interlude – “Probably [we needed] a few forums where the actual senior, middle and low level people who were involved in this stuff, sat down and had an open, candid, facilitated discussion. The only way that could have been achieved, I suppose, is if the ViceChancellor led them”

4.17.1 Sixth Interlude: Narrative

4.17.2 Sixth Interlude: Discussion

4.18 Tale Ten – “There is a little bit of, well, you are not in my team, you’re not important enough to talk to, so why am I interacting with you? I think the uni does have that culture.

Maybe less so now, but it’s still there”

4.18.1 Tale Ten: Narrative

4.18.2 Tale Ten: Discussion

4.19 Tale Eleven – “Training was one of our biggest avenues of support because it actually started to convince people that what we were doing was evidently sensible”

4.19.1 Tale Eleven: Narrative

4.19.2 Tale Eleven: Discussion

vi The Human Cost Of Change: Tales from the campus about personal change fatigue, resistance, and resilience

4.20 Seventh Interlude – “We needed to change the mind set about service delivery. It would be focussing on interpreting the data and helping others who were decision makers in the schools and departments interpret the data and action it”

4.20.1 Seventh Interlude: Narrative

4.20.2 Seventh Interlude: Discussion

4.21 Tale Twelve – “It should all work – we’re all working for the same cause. And if people learn and remember that, then everyone should be quite happy”

4.21.1 Tale Twelve: Narrative

4.21.2 Tale Twelve: Discussion

4.22 Conclusion to Chapter Four

Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusions

5.1 Findings of this Research

5.2 Development of a Model Based on the Findings

5.3 Outcomes of this Research

5.4 Recommendations from this Research

5.5 The Contribution of this Research to New Knowledge

5.5.1 Contribution to Theory

5.5.2 Contribution to Methodology

5.5.3 Contribution to Practice

5.6 Recommendations for Future Research

5.7 Conclusion

5.8 Epilogue



Appendix A Operational Paper for the Head of DIM on Mid-Term (2002) Lessons from the Projects DATA and FINANCE

Appendix B Pseudonyms

Appendix C Invitation to Participate

Appendix D Interview Guide

Appendix E Analysis Protocols

Appendix F Leximancer (2012) Analysis of Data Sources

Appendix G Completed Current Change Situation Matrix with Lessons Learned option....... 353 Appendix H Publications

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