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Organisational culture in TAFE colleges: power, gender and identity politics

Lorrimar, Jane (2006) Organisational culture in TAFE colleges: power, gender and identity politics. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study explores the human face of workplace change in two Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges in Western Australia. It analyses the impact of neoliberalism on organisational culture by examining the way vocational education and training (VET) reforms influenced the restructuring and orientation of these colleges, and changed their power dynamics and work practices. It presents the accounts of 100 women and men who were interviewed between 2000-2002 about their working lives. Their stories of passion and angst represent a 'vertical slice' of life in TAFE and include responses from administrative staff, lecturers, academic managers, corporate services managers and executives.

This study explores perceptions of power and the mechanisms of control that were exerted upon and within the colleges with a focus on the factors that impact on career satisfaction. In addition, it examines perceptions of fairness in relation to employment, remuneration and promotion issues. Specifically, it reveals a variety of points of view on the attributes of success and outlines the strategies individuals use to get ahead. Furthermore, it seeks to understand the way values and norms guide and justify conduct and how they influence organisational culture. It evaluates whether a climate of sacrifice operates in the colleges and whether individuals will sacrifice personal or professional values to get ahead.

Although much has been written on the impact of neoliberalism on the changing nature of work and organisational culture, there has been little investigation of the TAFE 'experience' at the individual, group and institutional level. It is also less common to find analyses of workplace restructuring that conceptualises the changes from a feminist and sociocultural perspective. By investigating the colleges as sites of gender and identity politics, this study explores the way individuals and groups do gender and describes how gender asymmetry is reproduced through social, cultural and institutional practices. It highlights how individuals construct their professional and worker identity and perceive themselves in relations to others in the social and organisational hierarchy of the colleges.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Currie, Jan
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