Leading changes through adaptive design: Change management practice in one of the universities in a developing nation

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Girma Shimelis Muluneh
Matebe Tafere Gedifew

Abstract

Universities are making changes to fulfil their education, research and community service responsibilities. Exacerbated by limited experience of systemic change management approaches, most change initiatives fail to address institutional problems. Therefore, this study has tried to propose adaptive design as a promising approach to create adaptive changes in universities. Guided by a pragmatic philosophical viewpoint, this research followed a practice theory to understand actions and decisions related to changes. Staff members and students were invited to reflect on their perceptions of the principles and tactics extracted from adaptive design and their implementation in the university. Also, the study tried to identify major challenges to create adaptive changes by using a mixed method-sequential explanatory approach. Survey and interviews were made to gather relevant data. The finding reflected that tenets of adaptive design, its principles and tactics are important tools to lead and institutionalise change initiatives. This may affirm the significance of the approach if accepted and scaled up as an alternative change management theory.
Keywords: Adaptive design, adaptive leadership, design thinking, change.

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