Exploration of university culture: a Papua New Guinea case study

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Salonda, Ludmilla Luddy (2008) Exploration of university culture: a Papua New Guinea case study. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The primary purpose of this case study on Divine Word University (DWU) is to explore the drivers that influence the organization to assume a particular model of organizing work and managing people in the pursuit of its goals. The key research questions therefore, focus on DWU culture, that is, the deeply embedded taken-for-granted basic assumptions whose influences are made visible in the organization’s behaviour and discourse. In particular, this thesis explores the behaviour and discourse associated with two aspects of the organization, the structure of decision-making and HR practices and processes. In exploring DWU culture, the study serves to explore the broader theme of university cultural emergence, embedding, cultural change, and organizational redefinition. Three ethnographic tools are used in the exploration: the semi-structured interview, documentary sources and observations. Having multiple data sources serves to triangulate the emerging cultural themes across the data sources. The data was collected over a period of six months. Documents were collected and observations made over the first five months. These serve to surface issues, concepts and themes around which interviews are conducted in the final month of data gathering. The findings show that the primary assumption defining DWU’s practices and which influences patterns of behaviour is the ideal of service linked to the missionary commitment to social advancement. This ideal has a profound impact on the culture of DWU. It provides the impetus for people to intervene to provide a service in a context where resource security is tenuous. Service in the context of this thesis is the ideal that serves as the impetus that motivates people, religious and altruistic oriented non-religious people, to render service for none or minimal material reward. This concept is contrasted with the concept of service associated with the university and taken as one of the tripartite knowledge functions. The findings also show that the outcome of the influence of service on DWU is that the behavioural expectations it promotes locate the university away from the behavioural expectations, as they are manifested in its decision-making structure and HR processes, of the collegial values-based organization. However, the findings also show that the distancing from the collegial cultural values and beliefs is nevertheless not a de-legitimization of the organization from the university field. In the contemporary context of organizational change that is allowing for the broadening of the university concept, emerging models of the university, such as DWU, occupy the contemporary end of the continuum of university models.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/2027
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Keywords Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea, Organizational culture, university cultural emergence, cultural change, organizational redefinition
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