1 Universidad de Cuenca (ECUADOR)
2 KU Leuven (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 2287-2296
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1485
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Successful change in universities is not always feasible to achieve due to the complexity of their academic structure and context. This is particularly true in developing societies such as in Latin America, where factors like resistance, poor or isolated implementation strategies, ineffective communication, weak leadership and little or no attention to the stakeholders interests, hinder deep change. Although in recent years, Latin American universities have invested in change programs, such as technological innovations, educational renewal and networking, changes have not been as successful as desired.

The stakeholder management literature highlights the need to actively manage stakeholders throughout a change process. Unfortunately, in universities, this approach has not received much attention, although it has been around for a long time both in literature and in practice. More research is needed in order to offer an interesting frame to understand the need and the way to actively manage stakeholders in university change settings. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine what stakeholder management practices contribute to a successful implementation of change in Latin American universities.

To this end, a single case study of a three-year attempt to implement a new educational system in a Latin American university was used. In order to assure data triangulation, data collection was accomplished through direct observation, analysis of secondary documents and in-depth semi-structured interviews. Data analysis was carried out in several steps. First, data were read several times to get an overall understanding of the change process; then, the case timeline was chronologically recreated. Second, data were analyzed systematically using thematic coding. Third, matrixes were built in order to organize and summarize the data. Finally, we identified and analyzed some key events to expose behavior patterns that the leader used to manage his/her different stakeholders and the effect on change. To ensure the quality of the research, member checking, data and researcher triangulation were performed.

Results revealed that the change leader actually had an active stakeholder management, but not following a particular methodology or sequential steps. In addition, a set of critical stakeholder management strategies for the implementation of change were identified. These strategies include developing an open and direct communication, involving and collaborating with stakeholders, empowerment of brokers and building networks, and negotiating agreements. For instance, the change leader developed a process of back-and-forth, not only with the middle, low and top university managers, but also with other stakeholders such as professors and administrative staff. Giving support to the change, the change leader, acting as “broker”, talked and connected with key stakeholders in order to develop a formal and informal network to support change.

All in all, this article provides valuable insights towards understanding the implementation of change in universities. Focus on relationships and building networks can create a willingness environment for change.
Change, stakeholder management, university, Latin America.