Towards a subjective theory of organisational change and development with particular reference to educational institutions.

  • H. L. Gray

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The study aims to develop a theory of change in educational institutions by examining the way people perceive their organisational situations. Two projects with secondary comprehensive schools were undertaken. One was concerned with problems of institutional evaluation and the other was a change programme in the management of the school. Both projects were conceived in terms of a phenomenological view of organisation and attempted to explore the meaning of change to the members of the organisation. In both cases the importance of a personal and subjective perspective for each individual was the outstanding consideration. Arising from the work came the need for a theoretical understanding of how change in organisation occurs and the study develops the idea that individuals perceive the world in terms of an idiosyncratic narrative. Each individual perceives change in terms of his own autobiographical "story". By using techniques from counselling and psychotherapy, individuals can be made more aware of their 'natural' self and in so doing change their view of the world. Thus as an individual changes his view of himself, he also changes his view of the organisation to which he belongs with implications for his organisational behaviour. The consequence is that organisational change is conditional upon personal change - both actually and perceptually. If educational institutions are to change, primary attention must be on individuals as 'persons' rather than on structural and technological matters. Organisations are explained as collective fantasies in which individual perceptions are accommodated to allow individuals to pursue their self-interest by negotiation with others. The dynamics of organisations derive from the dynamics of individual psychological exchanges.
Date of Award1980
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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