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LILA Theme for 2016-2017

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culturewordleEvery year, the LILA community focuses on a particular theme of interest to members that will help them advance their thinking regarding the initiatives they are leading in their organizations.  The 2016-2017 theme is Adaptive Cultures:  How Institutions Set the Conditions for Success.   

When an organization is doing better than its rivals, we are often quick to attribute performance to its organizational culture. We say we admire companies for their culture, and we worry what might happen to a company’s culture when there are mergers and acquisitions. When an organization is struggling or a shift in strategy is desired, we are often quick to say what is needed is a culture change initiative. But what do we mean by “culture”? What does an organization’s culture really consist of? Where does culture come from? And how does it change? Can culture really be changed by an “initiative”?

This theme will explore these questions and more. This is a timely theme, because the nature of organizations and organizing is actively fluctuating. The rise of hybrid organizations, holocratic organizations, and emergent organizations, as well as diverse social movements, are challenging the ways we define, understand, and experience organizational life. The idea of culture as a tool to drive goal attainment may be worth a second look. Approaching culture from both a macro-systems perspective as well as a micro-local perspective—where each influences the other—may be a useful way of approaching the puzzle.

With this theme, we explore culture at a variety of levels of analysis, focusing on those factors that lead to the establishment of adaptive cultures—cultures that lead to human and organizational flourishing even in the face of change. We will look at questions such as How do organizations work to change an existing culture? What does “culture change” really mean? How does it manifest?

To read the full description of the theme, click LILA Theme 2016-2017.  If you are interested in joining the LILA Community, contact Marga Biller at

Harvard Graduate School of Education