A naturalistic enquiry into the interaction of change and organizational culture in an elementary school



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Texas Tech University


This is a qualitative inquiry into the relationship between organizational culture and change. The case study was conducted at an innovative elementary school from August 1988 through June 1989. The underlying assumption is that the drive to renew an organization must begin with the needs and values of membership. The reciprocal interchange between the organization's culture and change process results in dynamic and perhaps unpredicted outcomes.

This look at innovation and culture yielded lessons about the internal tensions and forces which emerge during a change process. Insights into the relationship between school culture and change were drawn from the consideration of the real-life perspectives of people. These nine patterns, or themes, which came from the qualitative data, are: • expectation • power-sharing • leadership • shared purpose • pride • success and rewards • trust and caring • school climate • change receptivity.

This inquiry postulates that a culture's frame of reference has three components: expressiveness, receptiveness, and context assigning. The holistic interaction between culture and change is classified in this study as the process of redefining, reshaping, or re-establishing equilibrium. An outgrowth of this inquiry is an argument that such powerful and personal issues as change and culture open an avenue for consideration of ethical concerns.