This article discusses the approach to the management of change taken by a Danish university when introducing a university-wide market for education and it explores the different positions taken by some of the central stakeholders in one of the faculties involved. I argue that neither the inadequacies of a popular management model nor insufficient communication fully explain the problems with the change project. Based on strategy papers, memorandums and detailed observations of meetings, I discuss the introduction of the education market and analyse the reception given by directors of studies to a specific social technology, a common year and timetable structure. I offer an explanation of their reactions that draws on an anthropological approach to organisations. I call for university leaders to take what I call an 'improvisational' approach to leadership, which takes account of local ways of interpreting the meaning and significance of large-scale changes and works through professional motivation.