Organizational problems that lecturers experienced in times of pandemic

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This master thesis addresses the organizational problems that lecturers experienced at the beginning of pandemic in March 2020. More specific the focus is at the facilitating a distance learning process in the times of pandemic. The research question was: How did lecturers at universities respond to organizational problems they experienced when facilitating learning process in times of pandemic? Answering the research question comprised three interconnected parts: what kind of organizational problems lecturers of universities experienced when performed their work in times of pandemic; what solutions they developed in order to overcome the organizational problems; and how they intend to facilitate distance learning process in the future. The theoretical deductive approach included categorizing organizational problems from the theory and developing four different perspectives for describing the organizational resilience. They are the following: A. Change perspective, B. Uncertainty, C. Complexity, D. Resilience time frame. In this master thesis the unit of observation is lecturers at two different universities: in the Netherlands (Radboud university) and in Poland (the University of Warsaw). Subsequently, unit of analysis are these two universities that were affected by pandemic and switched (more) to distance learning. The semi-structured interviews were employed to ensure flexibility and openness during the interviews. The interviews were transcribed, and analyzed by template analysis. Where possible was made a link from the problems as well as the solutions to the theory. In total eight interviews were conducted two universities: Radboud university and the University of Warsaw in October-November 2021. It became the basis for analysis of the organizational problems that lecturers in these particular universities experienced, the solutions to these problems they developed along the way, and the future development of distance learning as seen from their perspective. Most of the problems that lecturers experienced have already been categorized in the theoretical chapter but some of them were added later during the development of the template. While the lecturers aimed for smooth transition to distance learning after the outbreak of pandemic, this was not an easy challenge. The organizational and digital resilience helped lecturers to bounce back to a state of “normality” and to continue the learning process. No matter how stressed, frustrated and anxious lecturers were, they still managed to cope with the problems in many cases demonstrating personal initiative and starting immediately with preparation to online lectures without waiting for support or instructions from the university management team. The lecturers were able to assess the 5 situation, to evaluate their own role and abilities in this situation, to overcome frustration or anxiety, and to find the solutions required to keep the learning process going. The organizational problems and developed solutions are presented in analysis section. The analysis yields a partial answer to the research question. Firstly, the analysis of organizational problems that lecturers experienced in Radboud university and the Warsaw university was presented. Secondly, the solutions to the problems as a way to respond to organizational problems after the start of pandemic were outlined. Thirdly, special attention was paid to the future perspective of distance learning and the interconnection of the organizational problems, developed solutions and organizational and digital resilience. Therefore, the research question is considered to be partially answered in this thesis. It was possible also to reach the objective of this thesis: to gain insight into what problems lecturers in universities encountered when (further) implementing online education during pandemic and what solutions to these problems they eventually developed. The research question is considered to be partially answered due to limitations mentioned in the concluding section of the thesis and also due to the fact that the list of organizational problems and solutions presented in this thesis can be enlarged and developed. The final sections in the thesis are: practical implications and implications for future research. This research was made possible due to voluntary participation of the respondents from Radboud university and the Warsaw university and support of supervisors from Radboud university.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen