During the 1980s, Australian universities have been subjected to quite massive pressures to change their traditional ways of doing things. The reform has been particularly pronounced since 1987, when the ‘Dawkinisation’ measures were introduced to reform and restructure in an attempt to operate institutions in more ‘business-like’ ways and to be more publicly accountable. The measures have also sought to render more instrumental the role which universities can/should play in promoting Australian prosperity and the national economy. How well have universities responded to the turmoil that has ensued, since the changes began? How successful have the universities been in adapting to the changes imposed upon them? How well are they prepared for the future? To answer these questions, the research has examined where Australian universities have been, where they are currently at, and where they are going in the future. The main aim of the research was to assess the proposition described by Pfeffer and Salancik (1978), concerning the resource dependency aspects of external environmental determinism applying to organisations. As a secondary aim, the research looked at, after Hrebiniak and Joyce (1985), the . interactive and interdependent relationships of an organisation’s internal adaptative process. The findings cite strategic planning, the training of senior managers and the need for a heightened and more integrative role for HRM as central to this purpose. To arrive at these conclusions, the research used a case study, based largely on semi-structured open-ended interviews, at the University of Canberra. Findings were confirmed by a process of ‘triangulation’ involving: the literature search, the interviews, · and analysis of the process adopted and the conclusions reached by a task force specially commissioned to look at the University’s future role and mission. The research draws specific implications for HRM in the University.
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