Organisational culture * enabler or preventer of participation?

Unit 2

Welcome to unit 2 – organisational culture * enabler or preventer of participation? In this unit we …

  • talk about organisational culture
  • and how it defines your role as a participating student.

Learning goal

  • You get insight into different organisational cultures.
  • You help us to define values that support a valuable partnership.

Organisational culture

Every organisation is defined by its own values. Subsequently, values form the basis of organisational culture because they are the foundation of our actions. The question is what kind of organisational values or culture enables the development of loyalty and even supports the active participation of students?

Universities need to reflect on the hidden concepts and values implicit in organisational structures and processes. What symbols or values make students feel that their involvement in university affairs is valued?

Culture of HEIs

To which extend students do interact with their university is defined by the culture of the organisation. Authoritarian-paternalistic culture offers other possibilities than a democratic-collegiate or managerial-corporate structure. Let’s have look at the managerial-corporate structure that is currently the prevailing model. Within this structure students are regarded as stakeholders or even customers who are involved in decision-making processes. They fulfil a kind of consultancy or advisory role (cf. Klemencic, 2015).

Source: Klemencic, Student involvement in quality enhancement, 2015.

Students as customers

Does the notion “students as customers” promote the quality and scope of student engagement?

There are some critical voices that claim that students who see themselves as customers perceive the teachers as kind of service provider. The expectation can change from a partnership to a one-way consuming approach. This customer role may not be supportive of the developing participatory structures. 

Students as stakeholders

Does the notion “students as stakeholders” promote the quality and scope of student engagement?

HEIs that perceive their students as stakeholders have created structures that support student involvement. Nevertheless, the stakeholder role is an external one and does not necessarily imply that students’ involvement goes beyond the formal structures.

Students as partners

Does the notion “students as partners” promote the quality and scope of student engagement?

An equal relationship is a mutual commitment to achieve common goals and to take joint responsibility for them. If students are seen as partners, they join such a relationship and do not only have rights but also responsibilities.

Such culture would not only offer students spaces and pathways of involvement, but also grant them a leadership role, in which they have the freedom to invent new spaces and pathways of involvement, as well as to redefine and introduce new parameters of institutional quality.Klemenčič, Manja

What is necessary to establish such a cooperative relationship between university and its students? Which values must be anchored in the culture of the university to develop an openminded and appreciative format of participation?

A prerequisite for a partnership between students and the university is that the students not only feel like partners, but also see themselves as members of the “community university”.

According to Masterson and Stamper, “[…] perceiving oneself to be a member of a community entails three components (belonging, mattering, and need fulfillment) that provide the foundation for our model of POM*. Employees’ perceptions of organizational membership thus reflect their overall relationship with the organization, based on the underlying dimensions of belonging, mattering, and need fulfillment.”

* POM: Perceived organisational membership.

Source: Masterson, Suzanne S.; Stamper, Christina L. (2003): Perceived organizational membership: an aggregate framework representing the employee-organization relationship.

Like already mentioned in unit 1 – loyalty, when we talk about the level of community feeling, it’s important to consider the three underlying dimensions mentioned above.

Let’s talk about values!

You now know the different roles you can play as a student and the relevant aspects of a valuable partnership/membership. The question now is what organisational values do you think are necessary to build this partnership? What do you need to develop a sense of belonging to your university?

Please use the following online whiteboard to share and discuss your ideas with others.

Mit Padlet erstellt

Go back to module loyalty and culture.