Alexandria Digital Research Library

Culture in a Writing Program: An Organizational Case Study

Orton, Haley Elizabeth
Degree Supervisor:
Sharon Conley
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Education, Higher and Sociology, Organization Theory
Organizational Culture
Higher Education
Writing Programs
Organization Theory
Online resources and Dissertations, Academic
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Education
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

This study explored the perceptions of the staff and faculty of one writing program in a large western university, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). The Writing Program had experienced significant changes including budgetary reductions since 2008 as well as turnover in leadership. These changes have impacted the culture of the organization. Interest in organizational culture is related to a larger concern in organizational theory with managing uncertainty. Martin (1992; 2002) suggests that all organizations exhibit levels of ambiguity or uncertainty.

To describe and explain how the writing program used in this study deals with uncertainty and change in the environment over time, I used Martin's (1992; 2002) three perspective theory of organizational culture. This study primarily used qualitative interviewing, informed by the single case study design (Yin, 2009). The study was actualized in two phases; wherein Phase 1 served as a pilot study for Phase 2.

The findings showed that challenges to the Writing Program included turnover in the director position and an uncertain budgetary climate in the university at large. From an integration perspective, the leaders of the Writing Program fostered a shared culture of collegiality and generosity. Subcultures in Phase 1 and Phase 2 were generally similar. Informants in both phases identified subcultures across disciplines and curricular focus as well as administration and instructional staff. Through the lens of the fragmentation perspective the Writing Program exhibited elements of fragmentation in both phases. During Phase 1 informants were concerned about the Writing Program's status as a function of its position as a less powerful program within the university. During Phase 2 newer organizational members revealed that they did not identify with certain subcultures and did not always know what issues and problems were at odds in the program. The personnel review process, lead by the personnel committee chair, provided a source of high personal uncertainty and organizational ambiguity.

In this study Martin's (1992) perspectives facilitated description and explanation of organizational culture. By viewing people and organizations as integrated, differentiated, and fragmented, nuance and complexity are acknowledged as part of shared existence.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (172 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Haley Orton
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