In this paper universities are considered to be central to a knowledge‐driven economy. UK employers value generic skills more highly in employees where disciplinary‐based understanding is assumed to be on a par. Enterprise education should, therefore, not only benefit students, but add greatly to wealth creation and national prosperity. In order to respond, universities need to formulate a coherent policy that will initiate a cultural change to foster enterprise and entrepreneurship. In order to address the question of whether and how such organisations can change, this paper aims to take a close look at influencing factors like culture and structure.
The analysis in this paper utilises tools and techniques that help to identify those factors that shape an organisation's strategy and structure. This paper takes a close look at the organisational structure and culture at a leading research‐led UK university, with respect to enterprise education. An insight for strategic development is achieved by recognising the university as a professional bureaucracy, relying on the balance between the standardisation of skills and training, rather than through a more general analysis of a “large organisation”.
The paper finds that in this professional bureaucracy, the operating core comprises professionals with considerable autonomy, but close association with their clients (students). Coordination between professionals takes place through the standardisation of skills and knowledge and the provision of enterprise education requires an appropriate standardisation of skills. A strong culture pervades throughout, and complex organisational structures and models of governance exist. This paper suggests that sweeping, major reforms are inappropriate.
The paper shows that this university has chosen to embrace educational changes that lead to enterprising student attributes by a process of “seeping change” in the context of a professional bureaucracy attending to the challenge of standardising skills.
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