Title: Process Agility in University Lab Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Case Study of a University Electron Microscopy Lab
Stream: Educational Policy, Leadership, Management & Administration
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Fangyuan Shen, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Daily operations of university labs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020 because of changing safety restrictions responding to the changing pandemic situations. Some UK university labs were closed in the 2020 summer and reopened in the 2020 winter. Universities are responsible for providing adequate regulatory support to every lab user, including researchers, students, and supporting teams. Since the variants of the virus have continuously caused health problems, it is time for universities to build up agility in lab management, which means having timely and flexible responses to cope with external environment changes. This paper is to construct the concept of process agility and its related capabilities in the context of university lab management during the pandemic. A case study was conducted in an electron microscopy (EM) lab at the University of Manchester by reviewing related policy documents and interviewing lab users. Case study showed that several changes were taken in booking and using policies since the reopening of the lab in 2020 winter. Online information systems provided notable help in managing and predicting lab usage. Credible and experienced technicians are essential to process agility because they are responsible for communicating and educating lab users on changes in processes and the need for change. This paper contributes to the theoretical discussion of lab management and process agility while also providing university lab managers with lessons learned during the pandemic and valuable implications for managing labs in the post-pandemic new normal.
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