n South African Journal of Higher Education - Accounting for change : the micropolitics of university restructuring. Part one : balancing books and ideas

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



In this first of three articles on "the micropolitics of university restructuring", the authors examine the political processes which shaped the restructuring of a single university (the University of Durban Westville) in the period 1998± 2000. Under external pressures (eg, declining student enrolments and increasing institutional accountability) and internal forces (eg, high repetition and dropout rates and high student default rates with respect to tuition), the University was forced to engage in a comprehensive process of strategic planning in order to improve efficiency, promote equity, and enhance effectiveness in its core business. This article develops an analytic narrative of the restructuring process in order to show how the unfolding of the planning process led to the kinds of outcomes which cannot be understood outside of the recognition of the interplay of conflict, compromise and consensus-building in changing universities. The first article also identifies the various roles of key stakeholders, thereby facilitating a deeper understanding of the case studies (the second article) and the theoretical interpretation (the third article) that follow in successive publications on this theme. Changing a university is like trying to move a cemetery; you get no help from the inhabitants (Anon). The only thing holding together a university is the central heating system. The university can be thought of as a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking.

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