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King Abdulaziz University’s Change Management Case Study

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Updated: Jul 9th, 2020


Organizational change involves the modification of the management structures and the processes of an organization. In the modern world, change has become part of our lives. It has become a common feature; hence, the increased acceptance of change processes at the organizational levels. The adoption of change is critical to the survival of organizations and individuals. As a result, change management and leadership play a crucial role in ensuring that organizations align with the intended outcome. However, some challenges face organizational change. The following paper discusses the process of effective organizational change in Saudi Arabia; a case example of King Abdulaziz University will be used.

Change Initiative at King Abdulaziz University

King Abdulaziz University (KAU) is a public institution in Saudi Arabia. KAU has been in the process of initiating change to align with the Education for All Programmes. The change is expected to bring inclusivity in the learning programs and the curriculum (Al Shaer, 2004). As a result, there are many stakeholders involved in the change process. At the university level, the people involved in the change include the administration and the lecturers. I happen to be one of the lecturers that participate in the board tasked with the implementation and monitoring of the change initiative. The events that are involved in the initiation and implementation of Education for All Programmes include the formulation of the policies that promote inclusivity and change in the curriculum.

Strengths of the Change Process

Organizational change has become a feature that stakeholders in various firms have to abide by (Carnall, 2005). The key strength in the implementation of Education for All Programmes in Saudi is mainly the collaboration and the government policy that advocates for the policy change. Besides, the administration has laid a platform for the change process that will ensure the holistic transformation of KAU in order to meet the international university standards. According to By (2005), the higher education institutions are integrated with their learning environment; as a result, they have to change their systems to avoid deterioration. The changes in the higher education institutions are affected by both internal and external factors (Al Shaer, 2004). The factors influence the capacity to accept the change. For instance, the change in the KAU is influenced by external and internal factors. The internal factors include the need for the administration to align the University with the changing education needs while the external factors include the government policy on the education inclusivity.

Furthermore, Carnal (2003) noted that change in educational institutions is necessary if the institutions are to survive and succeed in the modern learning environment. Despite the necessity of the change and the increasing acceptance, Burnes (2004) noted that there is a high rate of failure in change programs. The failure implies a fundamental deficiency in a clear framework of how to implement the organizational change. According to Kotter and Cohen (2002), leadership involves setting the direction, preparing people and motivating the people to achieve the planned outcome. Different forces enhance or frustrate the change process (Bamford & Forrester, 2003). Thus, in Education for All Programmes, there is a framework set by my university to monitor the change process. The framework comprises of dedicated board members representing the various departments. One key principle of change is to plan for the change and put in place the platform for the change process. According to Paton and McCalman (2000), planning ensures that the right framework for operation is put in place. Burnes (2004) noted that though there is increased acceptance of change, there is an over 70% failure rate of the changes that have been initiated. Burnes (2000) attributes the failure to lack of a proper framework for the change process.

Another key principle that leads to effective change is participatory implementation. In the case of Education for ALL Programmes, leadership stems from the national level and distributed to the various departments in the University. This is in line with Kotter and Cohen (2002) who noted that the implementation of organizational change in the education institutions mainly depends on the leadership. The leaders are tasked with creating a common vision, directing and inspiring the people towards the achievement of the change (Bamford & Forrester, 2003). Furthermore, in the education sector, the leaders play a critical role in providing the vision for the transformation.

According to Kotter and Cohen (2002), successful organizational change takes place in eight processes. The processes include the establishment of a sense of urgency. The process makes people understand the need for making the change to take place; therefore, it fine-tunes the minds of the people to align with the change initiative. The second process is the formulation of the coalition to guide the change process. Kotter and Cohen (2002) pointed out that coalition-building entails the inclusion of the key stakeholders that are to be involved in the change process. Also, for a chance to be effective there must be vision and the strategy to guide the change. Organizational change depends on the leadership to provide the vision and inspire the staff to embrace the change (Van Dijk &Van Dick, 2009).

The fifth process entails the communication of the change and the vision to the staff and other key stakeholders. According to Meyer and Stensaker (2006), communication fosters understanding and reemphasizes the need for the change process. A change that is broad-based starts with the achievement of short-term wins. According to Kotter and Cohen (2002), the short-term gains serve as indicators of the progress of the change process. The seventh step entails the consolidation of the achievements made in the various areas and the production of more change. The final stage is the integration of the change approaches to the organizational culture.


The main factors that impede change in an organization include poor motivation among the staff. In the educational organizations, there is a tendency of reluctance and the maintenance of the status quo. Burnes (2004) stated that change is normally unpredictable; as a result, there is a tendency of being reactive and discontinuous. For instance, the need to stick to the old system and curriculum is a departmental challenge that has slowed down the implementation of Education for All Programmes at KAU. According to Harris, Leithwood, Sammons, and Hopkins (2007), effective change entails involving the key stakeholders in all the levels of the change implementation. The implementation of the principle also depends on the principle of communication that actively involves all the stakeholders through the use of clear message channels (Harris et al., 2007). Failure to put in place the participatory measures results in disengagement of the stakeholders and complacency stems in.


In the implementation of the change, I have realized that change depends on the design and the framework created for the change. For efficiency to be realized, the change should draw support from the key stakeholders. Failure to incorporate the stakeholders, change is likely to fail. According to Kotter and Cohen (2002), the creation of a sense of urgency acts as the first step in a successful change process. This implies that the achievement of the urgency is the first result to change process. Thus, effective change entails influencing transformations at the periphery and setting an excellent framework that will guarantee that the change spreads to all units without being coerced from the top.


Al Shaer, A. (2007). Education for all programmes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ankara: United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Bamford, D. R., & Forrester, P. L. (2003). Managing planned and emergent change within an operations management environment. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 23 (5), 546-563.

Burnes, B. (2004). Managing Change: A Strategic Approach to Organisational Dynamics. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

By, R. (2005). Organisational change management: A critical review. Journal of Change Management, 5(4), 369-380.

Carnall, C. A. (2003). Managing Change in Organizations. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Harris, A., Leithwood, K., Sammons, P., & Hopkins, D. (2007). Distributed leadership and organizational change: Reviewing the evidence. Journal of Educational Change, 8 (1), 337-347.

Kotter, J., Cohen, S., (2002). The Heart of Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Meyer, C., & Stensaker, I. (2006). Developing capacity for change. Journal of Change Management, 6(2), 217-231.

Paton, R. A., & McCalman, J. (2000). Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation. London: SAGE Publications.

Van Dijk, R., & Van Dick, R. (2009). Navigating organizational change: Change leaders, employee resistance and work-based identities. Journal of Change Management, 9(2), 143-163.

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