Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Change in a university department through the p...

Electronic data

  • 2017peetphd

    Final published version, 2.18 MB, PDF document

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Change in a university department through the practice lens: an ethnographic study of factors inhibiting and scaffolding success

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • David Peet
Publication date06/2017
Number of pages203
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Change in higher education has been researched at a variety of levels, from international policy to the response of the individual, but the academic department has received little attention as the focus.
Deploying social practice theory underpinned by a critical realist ontology, this thesis reports a single-site ethnographic study into the factors which scaffold and inhibit change within a science department in a research-intensive university as a consequence of the implementation of a management initiative. The exemplar change programme described is Athena SWAN, which seeks to provide a framework to improve the working environment, especially for women. Multiple methods, including survey and interview, are used to explore the competences, materials and
meanings germane to change in the instantiated practice. Perspectives from different staff groups are reported using an organisational model. This study explores the limitations of current models and suggests alternatives for the investigation of instantiations of given practices.
This report demonstrates that effective change can be better scaffolded by the integration of practices across the department, paying due attention to the needs and perceptions of different staff groups, the impact of external environmental pressures and rate of change with time. An alternative model for conceptualising competing practices with apparently contradictory goals is offered as a means to articulate tensions and promote collaboration between practices and enhance opportunities for effective organisational change.