Flexible education assessed from a modern sociotechnical perspective

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The participation of adults in higher education in the Netherlands remains significantly behind other leading economies, which is a worrying prospect. For this reason, the government instructed a commission lead by Rinnooy Kan to give advice on improving flexibility and creating opportunity for schools to organize their higher education in a more flexible way. From that moment many educational institutions were experimenting with flexible education and wondered how they could best organize flexible education. Regarding flexible education, too little attention is paid to the aspect of organizational structure, while the organizational structures of educational institutions are very classical and out-dated. Besides that, more and more educational institutions yearn for simple organizational structures which can respond flexibly to the continuous changes in the environment and especially the needs of the students. Hence, they are unsure as how to adapt the organizational structure to achieve flexibility to better respond to the needs of the students. This research focuses on assessing the organizational structure of one specific part-time bachelor program. More specifically it assesses how the organizational structure of the part-time bachelor English teacher of the faculty education of the HAN, can be improved to achieve flexibility in order to better respond to the needs of students. For this purpose, different people involved in the part-time bachelor English were interviewed, and documents were studied. Based on this, the organizational structure was assessed according to the seven parameters of de Sitter and disturbances that had arisen from the organizational structure were distinguished. This has resulted in the conclusion that the organizational structure has many interfaces and especially two parameters were seen as most problematic in the organizational structure for achieving flexibility. The most obvious finding is that there is a separation between make and support tasks. Scheduling, study progress, ICT, facilities, and bureau extern are positioned outside the team and allocated to different departments, this makes the support tasks scattered. The support staff must come closer to the education team and a small staff team for all part-time bachelors within the ILS could be set up, to improve the connection with the support staff. This would lead to less interfaces and more interest and awareness of other people’s tasks. In addition, the results showed that strategic, design, and operational regulation are not combined in the tasks of the teachers, but strategic and design regulation mostly resides with the MT, policy staff or support staff. This integration can be improved by allocating the regulatory activities from the bottom-up and by creating sufficient interaction between the different levels of control. Thereby, it is important that management engages in dialogue with team leaders and staff and must explain why strategic decisions are made. In short, improving the two parameters through involving the education team and support staff in decisions and integrating support tasks into processes, will result in a more flexible organization, which can better respond to needs of the students.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen