Understanding Organisational Change in Museums: An Investigation of Evolving Museum Priorities and Practices at The National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan
thesisposted on 20.02.2018, 14:24 by Wen-Ling Lin
In this time of rapid political, economic, social and technological change, museums of all kinds face continuous pressures and demands from a variety of stakeholders. These demands are frequently competing (or at least in tension), arising from the different agendas, interests and requirements of diverse stakeholders which, in turn, raise questions around the purposes and priorities of museums. Although many literatures have contributed to the discussion around the museum’s purpose, there remains a lack of in-depth, grounded analysis that explores museums’ structures, processes, and practices and the role of individuals and broader forces for change in the making and reshaping of the organisation. In short, there has been relatively little scholarly attention given to the study of the museum as an ever-changing, dynamic and complex organisation. Drawing on organisational change studies, management theories and museum studies, this thesis seeks to understand the processes that contribute to the reshaping of the museum’s purpose, priorities and practices by staff and other agents through a qualitative investigation of change within a single institution. The aims of the research are to better understand the role of leadership in the process of change and the dynamic attitudes, values and power relations that underpin such processes. In order to explore the hidden complexities of the internal workings in the museum, this paper employs a single case study - the National Museum of Natural Science (NMNS) in Taiwan – that was investigated through an organisational ethnography approach. This thesis focuses on two main forces for change. One is the increasing influence of market forces that encourage the museum to move towards more business-like practices. The other is a growing appreciation of the social responsibility of the museum. These two predominantly external forces play out in a different ways and, at the same time, emerge as significant factors which influence the museum’s move away from traditional functions and conventional works and practices. By revealing various values, interests and power dynamics intersecting at the organisational and personal levels, the thesis aims to contribute an enhanced understanding of how and why change occurs in museums and how potentially competing interests can be negotiated.