SHAKING UP OXFORD
John Hood may be soft-spoken, but the New Zealand-born vice chancellor of Oxford University shows flashes of the steely determination that first convinced Oxford’s search committee to hire him to give the place a top-to-bottom management overhaul. Hood’s decisive actions have created few friends among the scholars, but he claims he is merely working in the university community’s best interests. “I am here as the servant of the scholars,” says Hood. “One has no power or authority in this job.”
This Business Week case study describes the changes that John Hood is making at Oxford and how academics at the British university are responding to those changes. The article looks at Hood’s influence strategies, the methods used by Oxford’s professors to resist those changes, and some of the politics of change that has occurred. Read the full text of this Business Week article and prepare for the discussion questions below.
1. John Hood claims that he has no power or authority in his job. Is he correct? What other sources of power work for and against him during this change process?
2. What influence tactics has Hood used that are most apparent in this case study?
3. What influence tactics have professors and other stakeholders used to resist Hood’s changes? Would you call any of these influence tactics “organizational politics”?
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