Structural Fragmentation: An Analysis of Administrative Organisation in the EPS PGR Administration Team

Following on from my recent essays on various aspects of organisation theory and its applications to different political, sociological and administrative aspects, I conducted a study within the University of Birmingham analysing the EPS PGR administration team, using combined methods of workplace observation, surveys and interviews to determine the team structure, its bottlenecks and its fragmentation. Through these, I propose three solutions which could begin to restructure and reform the administrative organisation: geographic centralisation, process centralisation/reorganisation and a combination of both of these. This links to theories I’ve propounded around organisational ossification, adhocratic organisation and the nature of flux within administrative systems.

Link to the study: Structural Fragmentation

Abstract:

This study analyses the EPS Postgraduate Research (PGR) administration team within the University of Birmingham. Using ethnographic methods of office-based observation, surveys and an interview, a series of planned changes have been developed to help combat ossification and what I term regressive conservatism found within the administrative structure of the PGR lifecycle. The administrative team is a relatively new team brought in to direct the PGR activities within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) at a college level, taking over from the traditional organising methods that saw PGR administrators housed within school-based Education Support Offices (ESOs). The current structure means that PGR activities are fragmented along school lines, with significant influence still maintained by academics within each school. This has limited the potential for reforming processes and centralising competencies, leading to a lack of cohesive team culture and a series of redundant, repetitive processes that need change. I propose three potential changes from my research and data, identifying a combined proposal to create a shared office for all PGR administrators and move PGR administrative work patterns toward a process-based split as the best means of centralising processes, creating team culture and reducing transactional activities. I then construct a theoretical monitoring system using Kotter’s eight step change model and a Gantt chart which can be used to analyse the change and find any bottlenecks or potential failures in its implementation.

Key terms: regressive conservatism; fragmentation; team culture; transactional activity; shared office; process-based work patterns; PGR lifecycle; administration

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