Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to improve the efficacy of professional support services and teaching processes within a leading UK university so that they align better to changing academic requirements and external market forces, using a novel systems thinking methodology. A case study is given from a school in a leading UK university. Design/methodology/approach: The case uses a novel process modelling methodology known as the process-orientated holonic modelling methodology. Abducted rationalisation is used to reflect upon the 4V’s theoretical concept of operational characteristics (volume, variety, variation over time and visibility). The paper also briefly describes the unique systems thinking principles behind the methodology and its use of abductive rationalisation. Findings: The methodology and models show that it is advantageous to simultaneously review strategic processes and operational processes because this enables roles, processes and tasks to be more purposefully redefined and more closely meet endogenous organisational requirements and exogenous market forces. Originality/value: This work will interest organisational analysts wishing to use a novel approach to improve strategy and operational processes in higher education and universities. The practical implications of the study are discussed using the 4V’s theoretical concept: volume of throughput, variety of offerings, variation over time and visibility of processes to students. The international context and implications are outlined.
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- 4V’s operational characteristics
- Action research
- Higher education
- Holistic thinking
- Language teaching
- Operations strategy