Vol 48 No 2 (2018)

New Universities’ Organizational Identities Through Presidential Lenses

John S. Levin
University of California, Riverside
Ariadna I. López Damián
University of California, Riverside
Marie C. Martin
University of California, Riverside
Evelyn M. Vázquez
University of California, Riverside
Published August 31, 2018


This qualitative investigation addresses three new universities in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and their presidents’ ascriptions of organizational identity to their universities. Through extended, semi-structured interviews and narrative analysis, this investigation uses organizational identity theory and institutional theory to explain the positionality and understandings of presidents in relationship to their universities’ paths to legitimacy. We found that the preservation of aspects of the institutions’ original identity (as community colleges) aids new universities’ organizational change. Furthermore, while presidents advocated for a replacement of community college logics with university logics, data showed that these three new universities had yet to embrace the university logic fully. We propose that a blending of logics may be the preferred mechanism for the attainment of legitimacy during sectoral change for new universities.



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