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Title: Towards a model for creative climates in higher education organisations : a constructivist grounded theory case study of Irish academics' experiences of creativity and innovation in curriculum development
Author: McGinn, Janine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 3563
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2019
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At a time of complex change in the provision of higher education by Institutes of Technology (IOTs) in Ireland, this qualitative study provides significant insights into the factors which have impact on academic creativity and innovation inside higher education institutions (HEIs). Curriculum development processes were examined in four Irish IOTs and one university, employing a constructivist grounded theory case study methodology. Interviews were conducted to gather experiences of 20 Irish academics. Five rounds of data analysis were processed with QSR NVivo software. A creativity paradox was uncovered: contemporary Higher Education (HE) policies promote cultures of creativity and innovation, yet, in practice, academics feel restricted in New Programme Development and Validation (NPDV) by greater regulatory compliance and sector rationalisation. However, despite increasingly complex HE controls, study findings show the significant impact of leadership within the HEI, and that a climate for academic creativity and innovation can exist, if the organisational climate conditions of effective leadership; trust; transparency; managerial and innovation process support are in place. Where present, these conditions have a positive impact on progress in the development of creative new programmes of learning and on the wider climate for creativity and innovation in the IOT. The in-depth interrogation of curriculum development and validation processes in Irish HEIs is the first of two primary contributions to knowledge of this research. Though state level regulatory compliance legacies represent a significant bureaucratic load on the IOTs, the impetus for HEI regulatory policies in Ireland increasingly originates from European Union (EU) HE agendas. Within the literature, there are criticisms of an EU creativity and innovation agenda for HE which is not sufficiently broad based and is heavily focused on servicing industry interests (Duff, 2011; MacLaren, 2012; Moutsios, 2013). Benefits of this creativity agenda are acknowledged, but a counterbalanced, more holistic approach to creativity development in HE, represented by the Humboldtian higher education ideal is advocated. A synthesis of findings led to the development of the three-level model for organisational creativity and innovation in higher education, the second primary contribution to knowledge of this research. The model illustrates the HEI climate factors, experienced by academics to have impact on creativity and innovation in Irish HEIs. Factors emerged at three levels: individual/team; organisational and meta-organisational. The findings of this study were found to align at individual/team and organisational levels, with Amabile's (1988) componential model for organisational creativity and innovation. The development of this three-level model is timely, given the change impetus in the IOT sector towards the development of technological universities in Ireland, in addition to the financial, technological and global competitiveness challenges currently facing the institutes. The model will serve as a comprehensive tool, informing HEI senior management and policy developers of the factors which must be addressed, to develop an authentic HE climate conducive to creativity and innovation. To this end, HEI policymakers are encouraged to think creativity first when considering implementation of new HE regulatory policies and practices. The findings in this study will contribute to the ongoing policy discourse about the future of the IOTs during a period of significant change in the sector.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: X330 Academic studies in Secondary Education ; L433 Education Policy