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An interesting piece about reorganisation, by Richard Layard of LSE, in the Guardian.14 July 2007.  Here is a quotation.

“Reorganisation is much less important than some think. In fact, many different organisational structures can be made to work equally well. What cannot work is constant reorganisation, where nobody understands what is happening, institutional memory is lost, and everybody worries about their future rather than the job in hand.No change should be introduced without being piloted. The speed of any change is much less important than its sustainability, and over-hasty change can even lead to cycles which eventually return the system to where it started.”

“No change should be introduced without being piloted” is the interesting bit. At the moment, many universities are following the NHS in introducing drastic reorganisation. None that I am aware of has run any sort of pilot scheme, or even made any serious attempt to assess the effect of the changes. Bland assertions are made about the expected benefits. They are laden with fashionable buzzwords, but there is little attempt to assess the outcomes. If this were science, it would be very poor science. It remains to be seen if the benefits outweigh the terrible effects on morale and institutional loyalty. But because of the way it is done, we shall probably never know.

For a good spoof, read Oxman et al, (2005) on the Redisorganisation of the National Health Service. Universities seem bent on making the same mistakes.

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