Introduction to the Empirical Findings

  • Deanna de Zilwa


This chapter introduces the case studies. Drawing on Miles and Snow’s model of organisational adaptation this work finds that case study academic units displayed either one of three modes of adaptation: defending, analysing or prospecting, or they attempted to resist changes in their exogenous environments (Miles & Snow, (1978). Organizational strategy, structure and process. New York: McGraw Hill). Defenders were cautious and conventional; their focus was on seeking greater efficiencies in their operations. Prospectors were proactively engaged with their external environments; they were prepared to take risks on innovative research and teaching projects. Analysers combined both the defender and prospector approach to adaptation; typically analysers adopted a defensive mode of adaptation in their core markets while experimenting with a prospector mode of adaptation in a few research or teaching domains. Reactors or resistant academic units either could not decide how to adapt, or they had a significant proportion of staff with strong ideological objections to altering their traditional operations for teaching, research and administration. This work also offers two important variations to Miles and Snow’s model of organisational adaptation to changing environments; these are noted in this chapter and explored later in the book. Firstly, managers (heads of academic units) did not determine whether units adapted to or resisted their changing environments and how they went about the processes of adaptation or resistance; this decision was a joint decision between management and staff. Secondly, Miles and Snow’s original model of adaptation depicts adaptation as an ordered, planned process; in contrast, for the case study academic units adaptation was a messy, emergent, unplanned process.


Analyser Mode Entrepreneurial Activity Academic Unit Organisational Adaptation Core Operation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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