Research Questions

Shifting perceptions and constructed cultures.


When considering a conceptual framework of intersubjective constructions of culture manifested by a social complex system, a relational approach enables the observer to achieve a meta-paradigmatic perspective of the system. Critical pluralism, or an approach that considers relativistic truths and relational perspectives is a more modern tool of analysis for organisational communications than traditional reductionist approaches.  In this case study, the primary agents are: the HDR students, the decision-making arenas of governance, the Strategic Plan, and the “culture of shared values”[1].


By firstly understanding current HDR perceptions in this relational social complex system, we can establish a baseline; a foothold in a dynamic and shifting constructed reality. After gaining an insight into this perspective, the author will attempt to intervene in the system by creating a cybernetic feedback loop, or communication tool, called DIRECT VOICE. This four-part cybernetic loop, or circular causal relationship, is intended to generate some change in the system under analysis. Finally, student perceptions will once again be investigated in a questionnaire designed to gauge the change in their perceived situation within the system.


A primary aim of this case study is to observe what changes may occur in this conceptual social system when the links between agents are enhanced and the voice of the students is given a direct link into governance. It is envisaged that when the students have a stronger representation of their voice within these decision-making arenas that they may exhibit a change in their perspective of their involvement in the constitutive nature of the organisation.

From this, we may distil three primary questions aimed at the micro, meso, and macro level.

Q1 – Micro

How do HDR students perceive the “culture of shared values” at USyd?

Q2 – Meso

How does the interventionist communication tool, DIRECT VOICE influence the student perceptions of the “culture of shared values” and their relational situation within the university community?

Q3 – Macro

When considering the shifting perspectives of HDR students after engagement with the communication tool, DIRECT VOICE, can greater perspicacity be gained into the social construction of the organisational systems and cultures in this modern university undergoing change.


In plainer English: When you open the doors of communication between individuals at the grassroots level of an organisation (aka the students) and management bodies (aka University Executive), do you end up with an organisation that is co-created by all members of the organisation, and does a co-created organisation manifest as a positive organisational culture?


[1] The Culture of Shared Values is defined by the 2016/2020 Strategic Plan as including the values: courage and creativity, respect and integrity, inclusion and diversity, and openness and engagement. However, in the Strategic Plan the focus was placed on the staff as “culture-bearers” whereas in this study the focus in on the HDR students as constituent agents of the system.