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Three Studies on the Leadership Behaviors of Academic Deans in Higher Education

Title: Three Studies on the Leadership Behaviors of Academic Deans in Higher Education.
Name(s): Brower, Rebecca, author
Schwartz, Robert A., professor directing dissertation
Berry, Frances, university representative
Jones, Tamara Bertrand, committee member
Cox, Bradley E., committee member
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2013
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This three article mixed methods dissertation is titled "Three Studies on the Leadership Behaviors of Academic Deans in Higher Education." Each of the three articles offers a distinct thesis regarding administration in academic institutions. While the research questions and perspectives in each of the articles are quite different from one another, the articles are similar in that they all examine the same context within higher education, academic administration, and more specifically the deanship. Each article is based on a sample of 51 academic deans from a three state region in the Southeastern United States. Each dean who responded was contacted in advance and asked to participate in the study which included a survey and follow-up interview by phone. While only 17 of the 51 deans were interviewed, the overall study provides a rich set of data. Study One In the first study, the results of the statistical analyses reinforce the gender similarities hypothesis which states that "males and females are similar on most, but not all psychological variables" (Hyde, 2005, p. 581). Male and female deans did not differ significantly on political skill and social capital. However, the study did contain two methodological concerns which may have obscured the relationship between gender, political skill, and social capital. First, the sample size was necessarily small due to the time consuming nature of converting survey data into social network data for statistical analysis. Second, the political skill scores and social capital scores were based on self-reported data. Ultimately, there is ambiguity in my results because it is difficult to determine whether the results indeed support the gender similarities hypothesis as I argued or whether methodological limitations have resulted in non-significant statistical findings. Study Two In the second study, the central result is a conceptual model of information use in problem solving in academic administration. The conceptual model is a visual representation of the relationship between information use and problem solving among decision makers in academic administration. In my model, the problem solving process begins with a problem catalyst which initiates the information filtering phase of the process. The decision makers then embark on an iterative process of questioning, seeking information, verifying information, and weighing decision options. This information filtering phase is fed by information streams including explicit, tacit, cultural, external, internal, received, and sought information. The information filtering process narrows until a decision point is reached. After the administrator makes the decision, the institutional action phase initiates with successive cycles of decision sharing and institutional action. Ultimately, the possible outcomes of the problem solving process represent a continuum with unresolved problems at one end, resolved problems leading to incremental organizational change at the midpoint, and resolved problems leading to organizational paradigm shifts at the far end of the continuum. Data representing each of these phases of the problem solving process are presented. Study Three The third study illuminates the ambiguity of sexual discrimination and the issues around gender roles in academic administration. From these data, four propositions regarding gender are presented. First, there is ambiguity surrounding gender in academic administration in higher education because of the culture of academia. This explanation for the unwillingness of deans to express certainty surrounding the influence of gender in academic administration is that they are adopting the social norms of universities, which emphasize uncertainty both in their organizational culture and in the ideas they produce. Second, academic leaders who must represent the broad interests of male and female employees keep their own feelings of discrimination private as part of their practice of impression management within the organization. Ambiguity also surrounds gender in academic administration in higher education because of attributional ambiguity (Crocker, Voelkl, Testa, Major, 1991). This term suggests that there is considerable ambiguity about whether social interactions have occurred because of gender or for other reasons. Finally, changing gender roles creates ambiguity in academic administration in higher education Gender roles in the modern era are now constantly in flux, being quite rigid under some circumstances and quite flexible under other circumstances.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-8532 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2013.
Date of Defense: November 8, 2013.
Keywords: Ambiguity, Gender, Information Use, Political Skill, Social Capital
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Robert A. Schwartz, Professor Directing Dissertation; Frances Berry, University Representative; Tamara Bertrand Jones, Committee Member; Bradley E. Cox, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Educational leadership
Education and state
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Brower, R. (2013). Three Studies on the Leadership Behaviors of Academic Deans in Higher Education. Retrieved from