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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Positive deviance during organization change: Researchers' social construction of expanded university goals
by Sutherland, Claire Euline, Ed.D., Pepperdine University, 2013, 168; 3600315
Abstract (Summary)

Many universities have expanded from teaching only to include research goals, requiring shifts in organization behavior. An exploratory case study method was used to examine these dynamics among positive deviant researchers at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), the single case examined, from a social construction perspective. As a participant observer in the organization, the researcher engaged in marginality and its associated risks in studying UTech’s transition from low to higher research outputs to answer the research questions—significant norms influencing positive deviancy patterns of the researchers and, their perceptions and experiences during transition. A qualitative case report and mini-organization ethnography of UTech was produced to enhance contextual understanding of positive deviance among university researchers, an area not previously described in the literature. Several important organizational findings emerged from the analysis of interviews of 6 participants who received the President’s Research Initiative Award (PRIA), artifacts of the organization, and participant observation. The results detail early development of a descriptive typology of positive deviance during organization change, including motivation, feelings of being marginalized and coping strategies. Three patterns—(1) teaching versus research (2) disorder, and (3) personal resilience—and 9 interrelated themes enhance understanding of role adaptations and the meanings and beliefs that these faculty associate with their research environment. The results also indicate organizational factors and personal dimensions in a research subculture that is emerging amidst strong pivotal teaching norms and culture; social costs involved in such a transition, and; some challenges and opportunities for building a research culture and a high performance research environment at UTech. A construct of organizational and individual adaptation to stress was hypothesized, subject to future research. The main conclusions included that research is a peripheral norm; doing teaching and research involved tensions, challenges, incongruence, disequilibria as new identities and the implied research subculture are emerging at UTech; there are anti-research risks to the transition, and; organizational tradeoffs might be required. The findings, although not a template, are of potential usefulness in any organizational setting where organization growth and change are contemplated. Recommendations are made for UTech and future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Murrell, Kenneth
Commitee: Davis, Kay, Martinez, Rogelio
School: Pepperdine University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational evaluation, Educational psychology, Higher education
Keywords: Case study, Ethnography, Organization change, Organizational behavior, Positive deviance, Social construction
Publication Number: 3600315
ISBN: 978-1-303-50395-5
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