Rules, Rule-Governed Behavior, and Organizational Change in a Large Metropolitan Research University

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Abstract

We examine the use of rules to influence organizational change in a large metropolitan research university. The macrobehaviors of interest involved student success metrics (such as on-time graduation) that are part of the performance metrics favored by the university system’s selecting environments, such as the Florida State University System’s Board of Governors, federal funding programs, and national philanthropic organizations. Five dimensions of a recently revised taxonomy of rules and rule-governed behavior (Pelaez, 2013) are used to analyze rules that have been introduced to effect the desired behavioral change in students. The context is Florida International University (Miami), and the change effort is its national award-winning Graduation Success Initiative (GSI; 2011–2015). The interrelated GSI interventions are large and complex. Therefore, isolating and evaluating each individual intervention has not been possible. However, the GSI’s cumulative effect appears to have been to help to increase on-time graduation by 16 points in 4 years. The manipulation of rules specifying contingencies seems to have played an important role in that success and is the subject of this discussion.

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