The Intentional Change Theory in Higher Education


Due to the increasing globalization in all areas of life, organizational change is necessary for many business companies and corporations to stay competitive in the market. There is a wide variety of methods and frameworks intended to make a change at the organizational level, including intentional change theory, appreciative inquiry, organizational learning, etc. These policies promote cultural change, maintain a healthy atmosphere within the team, support innovative and creative ideas, and improve the overall productivity of the organization. Higher education institutions might particularly benefit from the intentional change. Ultimately, adaptability has become one of the most influential factors in the development of organizations.


In rapidly changing industries, adaptability and flexibility have become some of the most prominent factors accountable for the success and development of organizations. This phenomenon primarily occurs due to the increasing globalization and digitalization, implying the necessity to adapt to contemporary realities. As a result, conservative companies that deny intentional change at the organizational level are frequently left behind in the competitive market.

At the same time, adaptable corporations acknowledge the dynamic nature of the industries and act respectively. The current paper attempts to critically analyze the intentional change theory (ICT), apply its primary concepts in the context of higher education and discuss the major changes at the organizational level of some of the most prominent contemporary corporations.

Intentional Change Theory

Frequently, major change efforts at the organizational level are subject to the intentional change theory. ICT is a general model that proposes several stages of achieving individual and organizational sustainable change (Van Oosten, 2006). The primary objectives of the theory are to establish a shared vision of the company, improve organizational competencies, develop strategic and action plans, and maintain a healthy atmosphere within the team (Van Oosten, 2006). The same steps of change might be applied to people implying the similarities between individual and collective origins (Van Oosten, 2006). After establishing the general purpose of the major change, it is possible to narrow down the overall transformation to specific goals. For instance, the process might be aimed at cultural transformation, digitalization, or social and ethical change.

Within the framework of ICT, it is possible to implement additional methodologies. One such example is appreciative inquiry (AI), which is a model of intentional change provided by the collaborative effort of individuals and organizations in search of a positive core of the system (Van Oosten, 2006). This goal is frequently achieved through training sessions, workshops, summits, and other types of activities that promote team efforts and collaboration (Van Oosten, 2006). Combining various models and frameworks of structural development, it is possible to achieve major beneficial changes in the organization.

Major Change Efforts in Higher Education

The chosen type of organization in the current work is higher education institutions. Intentional change theory and other frameworks of major change might have a beneficial impact on the organizational level of higher education institutions and on individuals, including teachers and the faculty staff. Pedagogical change has been extensively discussed in terms of organizational and leadership models in recent years (Klein, Lester, & Nelson, 2021). The variations include the change in the curriculum, pedagogical methods, innovative approaches, and shifts in the organizational structure (Klein et al., 2021).

Most models intend to make a change in the education system that would improve student-professor communication, enhance engagement from the students, and promote sustainable development (Mula et al. 2017). To achieve these goals, various methods and frameworks might be implemented in the education process.

The aforementioned ICT framework is one of the prominent models that might promote major change in higher education institutions. ICT and AI are particularly appropriate for organizational change since these models revolve around the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders (Van Oosten, 2006). Higher education is a complex system that requires attention from teachers, faculty staff, and students to create the most nourishing environment for learning. Some experts suggest that ICT is specifically effective in developing the agility and versatility of professors and staff faculty in the workspace (Naga Usha Sree & Tulasi Das, 2021).

This approach promotes interaction between teachers and students and allows for better flexibility of the curriculum (Naga Usha Sree & Tulasi Das, 2021). Other researchers propose the introduction of feedback seminars that align well with ICT and AI models. For instance, Dee and Leysite (2017) state that such sessions allow to ensure the professional identity of the professors and grant a better understanding of power dynamics in the workspace. The implications of the aforementioned frameworks promote organizational change and awareness in higher education institutions.

Major Change Examples

Major changes at the organizational level might lead to increased profits, prominence on the market, and improved team collaboration; nevertheless, not every corporation is prepared to take on major change efforts. In recent history, the confrontation between Netflix and Blockbuster is one of the most illustrative cases that highlight the significance of adaptability to the contemporary needs of the customers.

At the present time, Netflix is one of the most prominent content platforms with a valuation of approximately $203 billion, while Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010 (Sloan, 2020). However, when Netflix was established, Blockbuster was the undisputed leader of video rental services in the USA (Sloan, 2020). The drastic change in the market resulted from a large number of variables, including the conservative and detrimental structure of Blockbuster and its willingness to adapt to contemporary realities by Netflix.

The fast-paced development of Netflix is defined not only by the innovative approach to video rental services but also by the poor decisions by Blockbuster. The management of Blockbuster was confident in its business models relying on the late fees policies which were highly profit-centered (Sloan, 2020). Rejecting digitalization and any type of client-centered approach, Blockbuster has adhered to the existing policies to maintain its position in the market. Nevertheless, the management did not take into account the fast-paced globalization and digitalization in all areas of life; thus, they were not prepared to embrace major changes at the organizational level.

Digitalization has also impacted the competition in the photographic industry leading to the eventual downfall of Kodak, while such companies like Fujifilm, Canon, and Nikon have undergone a successful digital transformation. In the early 2000s, Kodak and Fujifilm were similar in their business models, product diversification, and target audience (Ho & Chen, 2018). Nevertheless, despite the digital revolution, Kodak has maintained its technologies which led to its eventual bankruptcy in 2012 (Ho & Chen, 2018). On the other hand, Fujifilm has commenced investing in digital cameras, image sensors, and other innovative features that allowed the company to strive in the market (Ho & Chen, 2018). Ultimately, the aforementioned cases excellently demonstrate the significance that adaptability and flexibility have in the current realities.


Intentional changes at the organizational level are essential for the proper development of business companies, formal institutions, and even whole industries. In the rapidly changing world, adaptability and versatility are among the most significant factors that might affect the productivity of organizations. Higher education is an excellent example of a formal institution that might particularly benefit from major organizational changes. The importance of transformation is also transparently demonstrated in the confrontation between Netflix and Blockbuster, in which the former succeeded due to timely adaptation to contemporary realities and the needs of the clients.


Dee, J., & Leisyte, L. (2017). Knowledge sharing and organizational change in higher education. The Learning Organization, 24(5), 355-365. Web.

Ho, J., & Chen, H. (2018). Managing the disruptive and sustaining the disrupted: The case of Kodak and Fujifilm in the face of digital disruption. Review of Policy Research, 35(3), 352-371. Web.

Klein, C., Lester, J., & Nelson, J. (2021). Leveraging organizational structure and culture to catalyze pedagogical change in higher education. In K. White (Eds.), Transforming institutions: Accelerating systemic change in higher education.

Mula, I., Tilbury, D., Ryan, A., Mader, M., Dlouha, J., Mader, C., Benayas, J., Dlouhy, J., & Alba, D. (2017). Catalysing change in higher education for sustainable development: A review of professional development initiatives for university educators. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18(5), 798-820. Web.

Naga Usha Sree, P., & Tulasi Das, V. (2021). Impact of intentional change theory and intrinsic motivation on agile teachers. EPRA International Journal of Economic and Business Review, 9(1), 10-22. Web.

Sloan, M. (2020). Netflix vs Blockbuster – 3 key takeaways. Web.

Van Oosten, E. B. (2006). Intentional change theory at the organizational level: A case study. Journal of Management Development, 25(7), 707-717. Web.

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