Despite its decline in many other sectors the idea of organisational restructuring is alive and well in the university sector.
In 2018 it has been brought into focus by a conflict between the unions and management over management abandoning a traditional agreement that restructuring is suspended over August when many staff are away.
As an approach to organisational change it goes back to the work of Kurt Lewin and the idea that organisations exist in a fixed state and need an external intervention to unfreeze them in order to move and then refreeze them into a new stable state. It is a therapeutic model of change and can be contrasted to models which recognise the possibility of gradual and continuous change.
Restructuring often happens in order to reduce costs, but other motivations can include reducing structural conflicts and increasing management control.
Restructuring happens in most universities, current examples are:
Sheffield - Professional Services Transformation Project
Roehampton - having had a round of voluntary redundancies are now restructuring professional services
and a number of universities which are aiming to reduce staff.
The unions are interested in hearing from people about their experience of restructuring and will support staff going through restructuring. It is often difficult to talk about what is happening, but it is important to keep talking to colleagues and the unions.