Negotiating Cultural Boundaries: How Individuals Traverse the Fragmented Terrain of Higher Education




Klein, Carrie

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This thesis describes the ways in which organizational culture and sub-cultures inform how individuals work across the fragmented terrain of higher education. Through a qualitative case study at George Mason University eighteen individuals were interviewed to explore the role of organizational culture and sub-cultures in their collaborative interactions. Among the results are that the motivations, awareness and strategies of individuals are informed by both the overarching organizational culture and sub-cultural differences. Each of these aspects of individuals reifies another. Organizational culture in the form of shared mission and goals motivates individuals to collaborate beyond subcultures. This motivation requires a deep awareness of others in the organization. By broadening their knowledge base, individuals are better able to construct strategies for successful collaboration. When successful, these strategies – relationship and network building, tailored communication, active listening, advocacy and adaptable approach – in turn, provide new motivation and greater awareness. These findings are useful in that they provide insight into collaborative effectiveness that internal boundary spanners can use to bridge the loosely-coupled components of their institutions for greater organizational success.



Organizational theory, Higher education, Organizational culture, Boundary spanning, Collaboration