University of Leicester
2010leeylbedd.pdf (5.74 MB)

Managing complex change in a Hong Kong Higher Education Institution: a micro-political perspective

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posted on 2013-10-02, 13:12 authored by Yin Ling Beatrice Lee
Purpose - The Hong Kong Government in 2003 introduced a systemic change in its funding policy for Associate Degree programmes which removed funding from previously funded programmes, affecting 3,800 student places and some 150 teaching and support staff of the College of the case institution. The present study aims to explore, through a micro-political perspective, how the institution shaped its original response to this change, which was modified by a range of micro-political factors culminating in a final response negotiated by the management, the College staff and the governing body. In studying the case the research developed a ‘micro-political toolkit’ comprising five core concepts: interests, conflict, groups and coalitions, power and bargaining, Design/methodology/approach - This study employed a qualitative case study research strategy. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 interviewees and the data collected was triangulated with official documents. Findings - The case evidence supported further development of the five concepts in the ‘toolkit’ to help better explain how the institution managed change. This included exposing the tension between professional and personal interests of teachers and developing a ‘hierarchy of interests’ to explore new types of interests. The study revealed that ‘value’ was the fundamental source of conflict and demonstrated that a coalition which operated predominantly in the informal processes, enhanced the staff’s power position, building up a ‘network of power’ which interlaced between authority and influence to change the decision of those in authority. The process of bargaining enabled actors to resolve their conflict whilst submerging the underlying value controversies once again. Originality/value - The study refines the ‘toolkit’ which can be used to analyse how educational institutions manage complex changes. It fills the gap in the knowledge base of micro-political analysis in the higher education sector in Hong Kong and has implications for theory, practice and research.



Stevenson, Howard

Date of award


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



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