2011. Vol.2, No.2, 106-113
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ce.2011.22015
Organizational Change at a Local Center of Excellence
—The Case of San Carlos University and the Office of Population Studies in the Philippines
Kees Boersma1, Anja Mannak-van der Sluijs2, Jeroen van Spijk3
1Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Organization Sciences, VU University Amsterdam,
Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
2Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment Rijkswaterstaat—Centre for Transport and Navigation
Vessel Traffic Management Delft, Delft, the Netherlands;
3Centre for International Cooperation (CIS), VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Email: email@example.com, Anja.vander.Sluijs@rws.nl, firstname.lastname@example.org
Received March 29th, 2011; revised April 15th, 2011; accepted May 6th, 2011.
The Higher Education System in the Philippines is in a state of transition caused by global pressures at the one
hand and local needs on the other hand. The transition is first of all visible in the implementation of quality sys-
tems and secondly in the need for sustainable research and education networks and centres of excellence. The
transition not only asks for a policy agenda, but is also a matter of organizational change management at a local
level. This paper presents an in-dept case-study of a local research and education network between the Office of
Population Studies (OPS) and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SoAn) of the University of San
Carlos (USC) in the region of the Central Visayas, Philippines. It shows that once loosely coupled local partners
that worked successfully together in the past became de-coupled and non-sustainable. In order to overcome local
constraints and to (re)build a stable, local centre of excellence, adequate change management based upon mutual
understanding and trust is needed. It is only through this that the ambition to attain global research standards and,
at the same time, to stay effectively engaged in addressing developm e nt n ee ds of t he region can be fully met.
Keywords: Philippine Higher Education, Centres of Excellence, Organizational Change Management,
Organization Coordinatio n , Historical Case Study
The Higher Education System in the Philippines is in a state
of transition. In the recent past, several reports have been writ-
ten concerning higher education in the country (Asian Devel-
opment Bank, 2001, 2002; Arcelo, 2003; Vorderstrasse, Cooney,
Cummings, Schuning, Shier, & Watkins, 2001). The Philip-
pines is classified as a middle development economy in the
Asia-Pacific region and research networks and coalitions are
becoming increasingly important in industry and at universities
(Braddock, 2002: p. 291; Marginson, 2004; Cummings, 2006).
After the Asian financial crisis in 1998, which also affected the
Philippine economy deeply, the government stimulated devel-
opment in order to manage the public debt and to improve the
republic’s infrastructure including its higher education system.
As elsewhere, higher education in the Philippines is confronted
with the pressures of globalisation (Altbach, 2001; Braddock
2002). Under the impact of globalization, “…higher education
institutes’ task environment changed dramatically in the last
twenty years…” (Vaira, 2004: p. 489). Dominant global dis-
courses challenge the governance of universities to meet the
demands of “knowledge-based societies” (De Guzman, Dela
Rosa, & Arcangel, 2005; Meek & Suwanwela, 2007) for which
the nurturing of local ties between research, teaching and
community service is crucial.
Higher education is an expanding sector in the Philippines,
with about 2.5 million students in some 1600 higher education
institutes in 2005 (Salazar-Clemena, 2006: p. 186). The studies
on the state of the Philippine higher education system agree on
the idea that the system will develop in a sustainable, enduring
manner only if policy makers see the need to improve research
and combine research, education and community service (Gon-
zalez, 2004). The start of sustainable local networks or centres
of excellence is important in this respect—they can contribute
to the vitality of higher education in the Philippines. Gonzalez
(2004), at the conclusion of his in-depth study to the Higher
Education sector in the Philippines, states: “…To get institutes
to work together instead of competing and to take initiatives
and to maximize resources; to ensure that the system makes
effective use of the funds for improvement of facilities, espe-
cially laboratories; and to support research at a few centres of
excellence and pursue institutionalized linkages with industry
for research will be the challenges that the Philippine higher
education system will have to tackle in the coming century”
In this paper, we will contribute to the discussion by asking
how local actors in the Philippine higher education system try
to build a stable, sustainable and local centre of excellence.
More precisely, we present a case-study of a research coalition
between the Office of Population Studies (OPS) and the De-
partment of Sociology and Anthropology (SoAn) of the Uni-
versity of San Carlos (USC) in the city of Cebu in the region of
the Central Visayas, Philippines (Office of International Link-
ages USC, 2003). The first organization, OPS, is an interna-
tionally known research institute with strong linkages outside
K. BOERSMA ET AL. 107
the Philippines as well as in the region. The second organiza-
tion, SoAn, is an academic department in the College of Arts
and Sciences, whose primary function, because of revenue con-
straints, is education. OPS and SoAn potentially form a local
centre of excellence in which department faculty and institute
researchers share expertise, knowledge, local and international
networks and other resources.
The question in this article is how to organize the local centre
of excellence in such a way that research of a high standard
would prevail without losing sight on the task of teaching at the
University or the requirements of development in the region.
By building upon Gonzalez’ plea for more integrated local
centres of excellence, this paper on organization change at a
Higher Education Institute at the Philippines contributes to the
presenting a historical case-study into the Higher Education
sector in the Philippines;
showing that the development of Higher Education in the
Philippines and the establishment of local centres of excel-
lence is a matter of organizational change (management)
Change Management in the Context of Higher
One of the challenges in establishing a centre of excellence
on the local level in the context of higher education, is the need
to facilitate cooperation between research institutes with dif-
ferent work cultures. It is hard—if not impossible—to create
cooperation in a top-down fashion. On top of that, partly under
the pressure of globalization, the higher education organization
becomes more diverse, fragmented and interconnected with
other organizations. While this situation enables creativity and
innovation, it can also be a source for potential conflict within
the organizational unit as well as between possible partners.
Therefore, in order to cope with this situation, the establish-
ment of a local centre of excellence that consists of heteroge-
neous partners requires a clear organization change manage-
ment (DeCaluwé & Vermaak, 2003) and adequate mechanisms
for coordination (Okhuysen & Bechky, 2009). This is not to say
that the management can only be successful if it ‘controls’ the
situation in a rational, hierarchical manner. The opposite is
true—change management is a learning process (Argyris &
Schön, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1998; Wenger, 2000). Stimulat-
ing cooperation across academic departments and research
institutes is difficult, especially in cases where multiple-iden-
tities and multiple-loyalties are discouraged (Mills, Miller, &
Nolan, 2005). Adequate organizational change management in
this respect pays attention to the diversity of the organizational
members, is aware of (potential) conflicts, respects each other
domains and recognizes that they are dependent upon each
other (or at least can benefit from the cooperation).
Whereas most (Western) theories on change management are
on control, the reality is that organizational change is hard to
manage (Collins, 1998). In particular academic units and de-
partments are organizations in their own right, where strongly
defined internal roles and enactment of ideas within the respec-
tive units are often barriers to cross-departmental and cross-
disciplinary cooperation (Allen, 2003; Massy, Wilger, & Col-
beck, 1994). Local and historical grown relationships, informal
organizational structures and/or personal networks can be an
enabler as well as a constrainer in this respect.
Theoretically speaking, the relationship between heteroge-
neous higher education units can be considered as a loosely
coupled system: a situation in which partners are responsive but
retain evidence of organizational separateness and identity
(Weick, 1976: p. 3; see also Birnbaum, 1988: p. 37/9). The
advantage of a loosely coupled system is that any one of the
partners can adjust to and modify local unique contingencies
without affecting the whole system (Weick, 1976: pp. 6-7).
Optimally, they are flexible, creative and retain more novel
solutions than would be the case in a tightly coupled system.
However, while a loosely coupled system can be a creative
organizational invention in a higher education institute (Orton
& Weick, 1990), there is a potential threat that, when they lack
a strong collective purpose, the partners de-coup led and be-
come non-sustainable. This may also be the case when staff
members are loyal to their own department in a sense of pre-
serving turf or find it difficult to see any significant advantage
in working together (Mills, Miller, & Nolan, 2005; Martin,
1992, 2002). In a situation of de-coupling the end-result will be
isolated units, a lack of trust and insufficient knowledge sharing.
In order to avoid such a situation, the management should en-
courage cooperation strategies and practices.
Research Agenda and Methods
This paper presents an in-dept case study in order to under-
stand structural patterns (Eisenhardt, 1989) in the higher educa-
tion sector in the Philippines. The data collection for this paper
was based upon two main sources. The first includes docu-
ments and websites of the University, government (including
those of CHED), accreditation associations and the Asia De-
velopment Bank. These documents provide the relevant con-
textual information “frame” our story. At USC, we studied
sources at OPS, the Office of Research, the College Research
Committees and the University Research Council. We analysed
the contents of these documents in order to explore dilemmas
regarding organizational developments as well as policy on
The second source are interviews conducted with key actors -
policy-makers, teachers and researchers at USC and OPS—in
regard to issues of teaching, research and inter-department co-
operation. The population of our research included the Univer-
sity Administration: including the Vice President for Academic
Affairs the Director and staff of the Office of Research, two
members of the University Research Council, the Director and
four staff members at OPS and faculty members at the aca-
demic department SoAn. We also interviewed graduate-stu-
dents at SoAn on what they thought about the department’s
cooperation with OPS. Finally, we interviewed policy makers
at local, governmental offices of CHED in Cebu and represen-
tatives of accreditation agents in the capital city Manila. In total
we interviewed about 25 persons in different offices and func-
The interviews were semi-structured (Babbie, 2003), which
means we used a topical list and a set of questions for the inter-
views. Questions included the background of the respondents,
their work environments, their opinions about and experience
K. BOERSMA ET AL.
of the collaboration of OPS and SoAn and, finally, the respon-
dents’ understanding of the organizational network manage-
ment within the coalition. In particular, we were interested in
reconstructing the historically rooted relationships at USC and
at OPS; the first part of our interviews were used for “oral his-
tory”—a method that aims to gather historical information
through interviews with people about their past experience, past
events and ways of life (Yow, 2005). We did not use the order
of questions in a strict manner, because we were eager to hear
the respondents’ own ideas. During the interviews, which were
conducted in English, we assured the respondents the privacy of
their answers. Accordingly, the results in this paper are pre-
sented in an anonymous manner.
Setting the Scene: The Organization of the USC
The USC is a private catholic institution for higher education,
under management of the SVD the Society of the Dive Word to
serve the Philippines in general and the Visayas and Mindanao
region specific (University of San Carlos, 2001). It traces its
origin to a primary school run by the Jesuits in 1595; and, later,
to the Seminario-Colegio de San Carlos under the administra-
tion of the Congregation of St. Vincent de Paul, a seminary for
the theological training of clergy of the Diocese of Cebu. In
1948, under the administration of a Catholic missionary con-
gregation and now separated from the Seminario, Colegio de
San Carlos was granted university status by the Department of
Education under the new, independent government of the coun-
USC consists of four campuses, all settled in Cebu City: the
Main Campus, the Ta lamba n Campus, the North Campus (High
School) and the South Campus (High School). Nowadays there
are in total eight colleges responsible for in total 27 depart-
ments. Five of the colleges (including the College of Arts and
Sciences) have level III PAASCU accreditation1, which stands
for a reasonably high standard for instruction, a visible com-
munity extension program, a highly visible research tradition,
strong faculty development, existence of working consortia and
library and other learning resource facilities (Lagura, 1998: p.
As a matter of the congregation’s policy, SVD-priests hold
major positions in the Administration, including a few at the
college and department level. The SVD priests, who are called
“fathers” by the faculty and students, are prominent figures at
the University. The power of the ‘fathers’ is known to be strong.
“No one under him questions him; one does not dare to…” is
the perception of one respondent. The mission of the University
is to educate students to become Catholic professionals and
effective citizens of the country. The President of the Univer-
sity is directly responsible to the Board of Trustees composed
of 10 members, six of whom are SVD priests and four laymen.
The academic departments and the research institutes and the
extension units at the University could be described as organi-
zations with strong autonomy in the areas of both teaching and
research (CIS, 2004).
Dam (2002), who studied research policy at the USC, con-
cluded that the process of innovation, growth and development
was too often regarded as a top-down process. Therefore, the
USC’s Office of Research was established to promote a culture
of research at the college. Together with the University Re-
search Council and the College Research Committees, it coor-
dinates and supports research at the colleges and departments.
The Office of Research also stimulates research collaboration
by a combination of innovative practices. Research at the aca-
demic departments is on occasion conducted in collaboration
with the University’s research institutes and extension units,
such as the Office of Population Studies (OPS), Cebuano Stud-
ies Center, Water Resources Center and others, many of which
have national and international affiliation.
Table 1 shows the importance of USC as source of research-
ers in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol.
USC strives to develop competent and socially responsible,
lifelong learning professionals. This includes excellence in the
core process of teaching and learning, research and community
service. This is one of the USC’s key goals at a time in which
faculty and staff are expected to respond to a world that is rap-
idly changing on the local, national and global level. The Uni-
versity’s ambition, at the same time, is to maintain its current
standing as a leading higher education institute inside the re-
gion. The Board of Trustees makes its ambition explicit in
documents and official statements.
However, this mission is difficult to fulfil, due to heavy
teaching hours of faculty as well as a lack of means. As a pri-
vate university, it depends highly on the tuition fees of students
to meet the growing costs of education. As a result, it has diffi-
culty meeting its development needs in regard to teaching, re-
search and extension. However, with its corporate status of
non-profit, non-stock organization, it is able to plough surplus
revenues back into the institution (Lagura, 1998: p. 7). This is
in contrast to proprietary educational institutions in the country
that perforce look to return on investment. Furthermore, in
order to improve the quality of teaching and research necessary
to cope with the demands of globalization and internationaliza-
tion, the Administration has invested considerably in academic
and management capacity building in recent years (CIS, 2004).
It is in this situation that USC tries to establish and maintain
local centres of excellence in which research, teaching and
community service can prosper—below we present our in-dept
case to show the challenges of this change process.
Demographic Research at USC
Anthropology was first taught at USC in 1954 by Father
Rudolf Rahmann, SVD, Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Uni-
versity of Vienna and, at that time, Rector of the University of
San Carlos, together with his first students, Marcelino Maceda,
Ph.D. and Rogelio Lopez, Ph.D. In 1961, following the arrival
of Father Wilhelm Flieger, SVD, M.A. in Sociology from Saint
Louis University and, later, Ph.D. in Demography from the
Universi ty of Chica go, the Depart ment of Soc iology was est ab-
lished (University of San Carlos, 1998, 2002). In 1967, the
disciplines of anthropology and sociology were placed under
the administration of a single department, the Department of
ociology and Anthropo-logy (SoAn).
1PAASCU is the Philippine Accreditation Association of Schools, Colleges
and Universities. For details on quality control in the Philippines, (see:
Arcelo, 2003). S
K. BOERSMA ET AL. 109
Number of researchers by Higher Education Institute in the Visayas (Source: Zosa, 2006) .
Higher Education Researchers in Cebu and Bohol (1999-2005)
Institute Number of Researchers Institute Number of Researchers
University of San Carlos 100 Central Vi s ayas State College 20
Cebu State College 43 University of t h e Visayas 13
Cebu Institute of Tec hn ology 34 University o f Cebu 10
UP-Cebu College 30 Cebu Doctor’ s University 5
Holy Name University 26 Cebu Norm al University 1
Southwestern Univers ity 22 Seminario Mayor de San Carlos 1
Cebu Institute of Medicine 21 University of Southern Philippines 1
University of San Jose-Recoletos 21 TOTAL 348
The History and Organization of OPS
In 1970, Father Wilhelm Flieger, upon his completion of the
Ph.D., took over the chairmanship of the Department until 1976
when he was forced to step down due to the filipinization of
administrative positions at the University by a proclamation
under the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Zenaida Uy,
M.A. in Anthropology from Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro,
with modest experience in research and actively engaged in
advocacy of the day, assumed the post of Chair.
Already in 1971, Father Flieger had begun systematic re-
search alongside his work as department Chair, since his vision
was to develop a specialized demographic research centre in the
region. Former President Rahmann supported this initiative,
virtually making demography and population-related research a
formal part of the University’s agenda. In 1979, the University
inaugurated the newly constructed building of OPS on the Ta-
lamban Campus. Significantly, Father Flieger had solicited full
financing of the architectural design and construction of the
building, replete with reception area, director’s office, re-
searchers’ cubicles, computer room and working area. Having
matriculated at the Department of Demography under Phillip
Hauser, University of Chicago, Father Flieger had already
many important research connections with colleagues and in-
stitutions abroad and in the country, including the University of
the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the Research
Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCO), Xavier University,
Cagayan de Oro. The three institutes, UPPI, RIMCO and USC,
effectively the demographic research grid of the Philippines,
were initially contracted to do inter-census population studies
by the National Statistics Office and, later, to collaborate on
large number of demographic and population-related studies.
The OPS’s mission is outspoken: to conduct training, re-
search and extension service on population issues with the pur-
pose of clarifying and enhancing knowledge, and contributing
to local, regional and national development (Office of Popula-
tion Studies, 2001, 2005). Specific goals supporting this mis-
sion are 1) the conduct of demographic and population-related
research to serve development in the Visayas as well as the
nation as a whole 2), the application of interdisciplinarity in the
conduct of population research, in particular investigating links
between demographic and other population fields such migra-
tion, nutrition and health 3) the dissemination of demographic
and population-related research to the academic community as
well as to the community-at-large and 4) the provision of
mechanisms to improve the competency and skills of research
staff at OPS.
Over the past 20 years, in addition to the Philippine govern-
ment being a major client of the institute OPS has collaborated
with many national and international research institutes, such as
the Carolina Population Centre of the University of North
Carolina, the Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, the University of the Philippines
Population Institute and the Research institute for Mindanao
Culture. Concrete examples of collaboration are:
Developmental Determinants of Young Adult Risk Factors
for Aging-related Chronic Diseases about collecting and
analyzing biomarkers (blood samples) for examining age-
related chronic diseases. Financial Donor: the Carolina
Population Center. Collaborator: the Carolina Population
Center of the University of North Carolina, NC, USA.
Enhancing the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition
Survey about collecting saliva samples (cortisol stress test)
from the youth respondents. Financial Donor: the Gates In-
stitute of Johns Hopkins University. Collaborator: the
Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins
University, MD, USA.
Filipino Early Childhood Development: Longitudinal
Analysis about pre-and post-policy changes in household
and service provider behavior. Financial Donor: NIH—Fo-
garty International Center. Collaborator: the Population
Studies Center of University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA.
From its establishment, OPS has been virtually autonomous,
receiving support from the University only in terms of the land
on which the institute stands, water, electric power and tele-
phone, with compensation being given neither the Director nor
research staff. Being loosely coupled to the USC, its formal
connection with the latter is through the Office of Research.
With the untimely death of Father Flieger in 1999, OPS was
established as the Office of Population Studies Foundation, Inc.
(OPSF), with members of the University Administration serv-
ing as members of the Board of Trustees. The University
President was named Executive Director, but the Management
K. BOERSMA ET AL.
Council and Office’s Director manage the daily administration
of OPSF. OPSF is not listed on the Philippine stock-exchange
and, as non-stock, non-profit organization, does not pursue
profit. The resources of the organization consist of a group of
capable population research experts with good statistical skills,
a cadre of field workers and computer facilities. The money
comes in via the research projects and collaboration that are
funded by international NGOs (e.g. research grants of NIH —the
Forarty International Center), the World Bank and the Asian
Development Bank and national institutes like the Health Ac-
tion Information Network (HAIN) that provides funds to sup-
port agencies working in health and development.
Among other considerations, the decision to make OPSF a
foundation was to help assure financial stability of the institute,
because there seems to have been no agreement with the Uni-
versity to subsidize operations of the institute. Being a founda-
tion would have the advantage of facilitating funding from the
government or other sources, such as Non-governmental Or-
ganisations (NGO’s). Nevertheless, the former OPS employees
perceived the establishment of the foundation in a different
light: some were confused about the relationship with the Uni-
versity, most of them feeling they were separated from and left
alone by USC.
A Promising but Diffucult Relationship between
Two Academic Units
Although the USC’s Administration supported the organiza-
tional collaboration between its prestigious research institute
and the University’s departments—a recommendation persis-
tently made by the Philippine Accrediting Association for
Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU)—beyond the
teaching of one or the other course by research staff, actual
collaboration of OPS with SoAn is incidental. In spite of the
institute’s autonomous status—or rather because of it—Father
Flieger already complained often about a lack interest of the
Administration in his institute, save sharing the renown of hav-
ing an internationally known research institute on campus. This
problem increased and became problematic after the OPS be-
came a foundation. As a matter of fact, OPSF became de-cou-
pled from the USC.
However, the USC—or more precisely SoAn—and OPSF
still share common interests in researching fields of population,
such as demography, child development, gender and aging. For
example, SoAn is engaged in a number of activities of interest
also to OPSF:
Projects related to the promotion of reproductive health
with local stakeholders (including training of health provid-
ers, educational modules and information, education and
communication (IEC) materials, with support from the
David and Lucille Packard Foundation (2000-2002) and the
Ford Foundation (1999-2000 and 2003-2007);
Boljoon (Cebu) Archaeological Excavations, Phases 2 and
3, in cooperation with the National Museum; Establishment
of the Boljoon Parish Museum; and Publication of Archae-
ology of a Frontier Missionary Settlement in Boljoon, the
last funded by the Spanish Program for Cultural Coopera-
tion of the Spanish Embassy;
Collaboration with: the Cebuano Studies Center (CSC), a
specialized library and research centre for Visayan culture
and history; the University Museum with Ethnographic,
Pre-Hispanic, Archaeological and Natural Science galleries;
and the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) of the Col-
lege of Arts and Sciences.
Both OPSF and SoAn have the intent to act on the global
scene by seeking international partners in research and, at the
same time, to remain embedded in local research networks in
support of regional development and community service. In this
sense, they form a promising (new) centre of excellence.
As mentioned earlier, the USC Office of Research facilitates
the development of research at the colleges and departments
and encourages collaboration between research institutes and
their counterpart departments at the colleges. Ideas on research
policy from articles and UNESCO reports by scholars like Hop-
pers (2004) and Gibbons (1998) have at one time played a cen-
tral role in the change management of the Office of Research.
The ideas on knowledge production in Mode 2 (Gibbons et al.,
1994) have to do, among other things, with the importance of
regional engagement through knowledge creation, exchange
and sharing—they have been used by the management of the
Office of Research. For the Office of Research a (renewed)
coalition between SoAn and OPSF can result in a local centre
of excellence in the field of demographic research based upon
In line with this perception, the intention of University policy
is to encourage researchers of SoAn and OPSF to take advan-
tage of mutual research opportunities and involvement. Indeed,
during the last couple of years, there is some renewed coopera-
tion between them: OPSF researchers are involved in teaching
at SoAn—since there are courses in the curriculum that require
their expertise—as well as advise SoAn graduate students in
conducting thesis and dissertation research. SoAn faculty are
involved in colloquia and research forums, often organized by
the Office of Research, where OPSF research staff present the
results of their research. Importantly, faculty of SoAn have
access to consultation, data a n d computer facilities at OPSF.
However, although there is collaboration between members
of the academic department and the research institute, our re-
spondents made clear that there is uncertainty on both sides
with regard to common interests as well as the manner in which
systematic collaboration could be attained. A close relationship
between OPSF and the USC could be felt a threat to a virtually
independent institute like OPSF. Due to the perception that the
University in facilitating the establishment of the Foundation is
in effect distancing itself from OPSF, while at the same time
claiming the institute to be part of USC, the management and
staff of OPSF are confused about the nature of this relationship.
These events are a cause of negative feeling and distrust.
This problematic situation is partly rooted in the historical
development of OPSF and, specifically, the vision Father
Flieger. He had an independent demographic research institute
in mind where he could assure the quality of research expected
by collaborators as well as by government and other funding
agencies, while at the same time being loosely coupled with the
USC. This vision, however, could be best be attained by
full-time researchers and, with Father Flieger no longer chair of
SoAn, the focus of OPSF operations became contracted re-
search with teaching of secondary importance.
At the same time, it is important to understand that OPSF is
of decided benefit to USC, not only in maintaining a credible
K. BOERSMA ET AL. 111
level of accreditation but also in adding to its reputation as a
university. A member of the University Research Council
We always receive critics from PAASCU (the accreditation
agent; authors of this paper); they say the integration of re-
search centres in the academic life is not good enough.
PAASCU wants to see that our research results are seen back
in the education.
OPSF researchers when attending international conferences
present themselves as researchers of the University. One re-
spondent made it clear:
Research has to be part of every knowledge game, knowledge
formation or knowledge intensification … I think USC’s in-
volvement in OPSF can be for knowledge creation, sharing and
exchange. It can be a start for knowledge exchange and can
create more bonding between us. OPSF is a knowledge centre
and is international, national and regional known for its exper-
tise and probably for this reason USC wants to be involved with
Table 2 presents a scheme of important organizational factors
that could, as the case may be, constrain or facilitate the desired
goal, namely: Purpose, Function, Structure, Culture and Rela-
tion to Administration. Taken together, the organizational fac-
tors are perfect ingredients for a local centre of excellence.
In reality, however, faculty members at the University, in
particular at SoAn, have the feeling OPSF wants to remain an
independent institute preserving its own research culture. For
the members of SoAn, the teaching load is a heavy burden; for
them it is difficult to meet the academic standards (e.g. publica-
tions). As a result, the SoAn has a culture that is oriented more
The feeling that OPSF and SoAn have rather different work
cultures (Mills, Miller, & Nolan, 2005; Martin, 2002), is rein-
forced by the OPSF’s mission and research agenda, which
characterizes the institute as an independent research center.
Conversely, research staff OPSF feel there is a definite rela-
tionship between the institute and the University, but they do
not know how to describe it. At one point, the Director of
OPSF asked the University’s Vice President for Academic Af-
fairs to help clarify the position of OPSF. Whatever transpired
during the meeting, the Director no longer accepts teaching
assignments at SoAn. As a result, neither the Administration
nor SoAn has taken any concrete action toward building a sta-
ble relationship with the Foundation.
The Need for Sustainable Organizational
Change Management: A Discussion
In sum, there is collaboration taking place (teaching, partici-
pation in symposia and research forums, access to OPSF data
and computer facilities) so that we certainly can speak about a
promising new centre of excellence. However, there is a lot of
hesitance, and surely a lack of urgency and “guidance” by the
management of the two groups, to maintaining professional
linkage arrangements between the two.
Since the establishment of OPS in 1971, the research en-
deavors of OPS have been recognized formally as part of the
University, albeit loosely coupled. Since it became a foundation
it started to function as an independent research institute. Or, to
put it into Weick’s terminology: OPS(F) and SoAn once
loosely coupled became de-coupled. As a result, there has been
some concern on both sides about the (des) integration of OPSF
at the USC and, thus, for the encouraging of re-establishing a
formal linkage betwee n OPSF and SoAn.
To overcome these difficulties and constraints requires a
more open integration of the research work agendas of OPSF
and SoAn. It is crucial for the actors involved to consciously
invest in mutual trust in order to build a stable coalition. As
argued in the theoretical part of this paper, this requires flexible,
but determined change management. At USC, the challenge for
the Administration—and indeed also to leadership at the de-
partment and the institute—is to become attentive to the glue
that holds loosely coupled systems together (Weick, 1982) in
order to build a stable and institutionalized centre of excellence
Gonzalez (2004) pleas for.
Organizational factors determining the r el at io n sh ip of O PSF and SoAn.
Office of Population Studies Foundation, Inc. Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Purpose To contribute research and publication on demogra-
phy and population-related disciplines of significance
regionally, nationally and internationally
To produce graduates with competence in the disciplines of
anthropology and sociology at undergraduate and graduate
levels, who can be suitably employed in the region and beyond
and contribute in their sphere of influenc e
Conducting of research with a high degree of reliabil-
ity and adherence to international standards in re-
search design, fieldwork, data analysis and publica-
Designing and implementing curricula relevant to the regional
context, teaching of courses and conducting research in soci-
ology and a nthropology s upporting the educat io nal process and
responding to re gional deve lopment needs
Strong direction and alignment of staff and resources
covering research design, fieldwork, analysis and
publication but staff insecure in regard to their to
personal and institutional future
Limited direction and alignment of faculty and resources in
conduct of instruction, research and regional engagement with
modest proc edural oversight by th e college dean
Culture Pride in research standard and work of institute and
strongly motivated in performance but feeling the
pressure of meeting standards and project deadlines
Contentment with the laissez faire management of the core
functions but exhibiting energy and enthusiasm in external
projects and engagements
Relation to Administration Autonomous operation of the institute since its estab-
lishment, the function with which the Administration
is not completely familiar operationally
Long chain of command from President, Vice President for
Academic Affairs, Dean and Chair is the reason why the su-
pervision of core functions is somewhat unclear
K. BOERSMA ET AL.
Common interest in research and knowledge creation here is
surely the organizational bonding needed for a workable rela-
tionship. This is a network activity more than anything else, as
Gustavsen argues: “To learn from practices, research needs to
develop social relationships; internally within the research
community as well as in relation to others. ‘The new production
of knowledge’ as identified by Gibbons and colleagues … is
above all a network activity, and research cannot stay outside
this process and remain as isolated individuals looking at the
world from up above” (Gustavsen, 2003: pp. 162-163; italics
ours). In other words, the creation of knowledge at OPSF and
SoAn, its exchange and sharing and the execution of joint re-
search projects within a centre of excellence should be the basis
on which to build.
Since the USC has indeed the intention of promoting re-
search across the University and expects the Office of Research
to draw together research plans of the colleges and institutes
into an integrated institutional research agenda, its management
should give priority to facilitating the exchange of personnel
among its departments and research institutes.
As we stated in the introduction of this paper, academic re-
search networks and coalitions [in the Philippines] are impor-
tant vehicles for fuelling the knowledge society at both the
national level and the local level. The plea for the nurturing of
local centres of excellence by Gonzalez (2004) to become more
sustainable and stable deserves attention in the Philippines.
Because a centre of excellence is shaped by local actors, the
establishment and maintenance of a centre of excellence cannot
be the outcome of a top-down governmental policy. Albeit it
must be encouraged by the regional and national government,
ultimately, in order to be successful, a centre of excellence in
the context of higher education institutes is a matter of local
In line with this idea, the collaboration between SoAn and
OPSF could be seen as the outcome of local management proc-
esses that reflects ideas in the field of education at national and
international levels. What we have learned is that, in spite of
attempts over the years to foster collaboration between SoAn
and OPSF, it is difficult it is to build a sustainable relationship
based upon mutual trust among organizations with different
orientations. Furthermore, the Administration’s lack of ade-
quate change management and, reciprocally, the absence of a
shared understanding of work-culture among departments make
it difficult to build a mechanism for viable research collabora-
tion. In this situation, department faculty and institute research-
ers are unable to operationalize these ideas in their day-to-day
functions—the threat of de-coupling is high.
The common interest of SoAn and OPSF in knowledge pro-
duction could form the basis for synergism and the consolida-
tion of a workable collaboration in a centre of excellence. With
this, there could be a sharing of best practises in doing research
as well as a sharing of expertise and sources of data. In working
together, they could form a research agenda of broader scope
and thus attract further sources of funding. In the end, both
partners should understand they have a common interest in
advancing knowledge for the purpose remaining innovative. In
other words, the academic department (SoAn) and the research
institute (OPSF) must realize they need each other to enhance
effectiveness in their knowledge management, but they have to
be deliberate about investing in this relationship.
It is this lesson that can be applied also at other higher edu-
cation institutes (in the Philippines). First of all, the pol-
icy-makers and (top) management of the Philippine higher
education sector should have the feeling of urgency to use the
potential of their units to establish centres of excellence. In the
second place, the local administrations must show leadership to
stimulate otherwise isolated groups and units to cooperate in
research, teaching and community service. Finally, the creation
and maintenance of a center of excellence is a matter of local
change management. A successful centre of excellence in the
context of the Philippine higher education sector will not ap-
pear over night. The opposite is true: it is only through hard
work and collaboration through which the ambition to attain
global research standards and, at the same time, to be sustaina-
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