International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleFacilitating the development of a shared purpose in a university department: the first stage towards developing a culture of shared governance
Type of ArticleCritical Reflection on Practice Development
Author/sBrian McGowan, Debbie Goode and Kim Manley
ReferenceVolume 6, Issue 2, Article 8
Date of PublicationNovember 2016
Keywordsculture change, higher education, nursing, shared decision making, shared governance, values

Background and context: The structure of higher education departments tends to be hierarchical or, at the other extreme, characterised as ‘a galaxy of individual stars’ (Handy, 1993 p 190). Ours was no exception. However, changes in the way nursing education was provided, internal growth and development followed by a period of austerity, presented our school with an unprecedented opportunity. We found ourselves in a position where we had the possibility to change.

Aims: The aim of the paper is to share our reflections on the process and outcomes to date of a culture change project in a university department. The purpose of this opening part of the project was to enable creative and collegial opportunities to work together.

Conclusions: An inclusive culture can make a difference to peoples’ lives and reflect the underpinning principles of person-centred practice. This project has enabled us to define our shared purpose, clarify our values, make commitments and set standards. Overall, though it has allowed us to see each other as people who have emerged from behind a faceless organisational structure.

Implications for practice:

  • The values of inclusiveness, integrity and professionalism are important for a shared
  • understanding and effective collaborative functioning within university departments internationally, especially those that espouse person-centredness
  • Staff teams can be structured around professional and personal development needs but these also provide a direct link to both departmental and organisational purposes aligned to education
  • Managerial support, staff participation and an experienced facilitator are vital for successful cultural change. Our project has been UK based but we believe these experiences to be transferable and of interest to university departments elsewhere that aspire to create cultures that enable staff, and therefore students and the wider community, to flourish

This article by Brian McGowan, Debbie Goode and Kim Manley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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