While ample literature has discussed either the factors that lead to organizational change or organizational and cultural dynamics that contribute to change resistance, few case studies have examined both within the same change process. This study seeks to investigate the reasons why diversity, equity, and inclusion policies were implemented at a small eastern liberal arts college, and it also assesses the resistance to these initiatives that arose from various constituencies. Drawing on interview data collected from twenty key actors in the College’s DEI implementation process, as well as the analysis of public documents, I find that normative and mimetic isomorphic pressures influenced administrative efforts towards organizational change. Additionally, I discover that sensemaking processes and moral beliefs held by leaders of student and faculty groups contributed to perceptions of the College and its administration as “racist,” thus leading to mistrust and actions to counter official efforts towards change. The data also allow me to note that organizational politics contributed to change resistance, as students and faculty leaders and administrators possessed opposing views on who should hold organizational power. Ultimately, this study provides a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in organizational change, which are not only attributed to structural factors, but cultural and interactional differences between organizational actors.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.