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Action research as culture change tool

Romualda Marcinkoniene (Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas, Lithuania)
Tauno Kekäle (Department of Production, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 16 January 2007




To report experiences of changing cultures in three Lithuanian schools by means of action research.


This took the form of action research in the schools. Culture change measured by a culture survey (developed by Harrison and Stokes) in the beginning and towards the end of the three‐year change project.


The cultures of the primary and vocational schools have clearly changed towards the general total quality management culture traits of achievement and individual problem solving during our project. The culture of the secondary school has not changed similarly. A possible explanation for this may lie in the very strong power orientation of this third school; in our discussions, some teachers state that some are forcefully against change out of fear of losing their power position. However, even here the power orientation has weakened and the respondents generally are in preference of an achievement culture.

Research limitations/implications

Only three case schools were studied. Schools as organizations are quite different to companies, but could be comparable to other public organizations. Furthermore, Hofstede culture studies would suggest certain similarity between Lithuanian and some other Baltic states' work culture (e.g. Poland, Latvia) but differs clearly from some others (Finland, Estonia, Russia); this does not disqualify the action research methodology but makes the results basically incomparable.

Practical implications

Culture change takes time, and some post‐communist public organizations such as schools are even slower to change – but with persuasion and patience and well‐planned change programme, culture can be changed.


This is an original empirical study in a managerially‐demanding environment.



Marcinkoniene, R. and Kekäle, T. (2007), "Action research as culture change tool", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 97-109.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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