Topic Overview

This week’s readings emphasize the process of decision making and the importance of planning for an organization. Both the Argyris and Leslie and Fretwell articles point to the various conflicts that may impact the decision making process. While Argyris focuses on the interpersonal conflicts that may arise from a particular leadership style, Leslie and Fretwell discuss the types of conflict situations that can occur due to decision making when an institution's financial welfare is on the line. Chaffee and Peterson both discuss the nature of planning. Chaffee's article describes five different models that can be used in the process of decision making. Peterson, on the other hand, explains the overarching planning types that have historically influenced the culture of decision making.

If we look at these articles as a sequence, Peterson provides the broad picture by identifying how institutions have relationally organized their decision making - reactively, adaptively, or proactively. Next, Chaffee provides a basis for how institutions go about making those decisions - by consensus, by negotiation, through a standard operating procedure, through rational analysis or randomized troubleshooting. In the aftermath of these two, the when and how, Leslie and Fretwell suggest the consequences and successes that can occur by implementing these models. Similarly, Argyris denotes how the leaders of an organization produce some of those consequences without even realizing the damage done to the institutional culture.

Key Terminology

Rational Model
This model is the ideal decision making model because it emphasizes deliberate action. In using this model, values are known beforehand and the process has unifying properties for those involved. "Complex, nonrecurring and novel" issues create the perfect circumstances in which to use this model.
Chaffee, p. 20-24
Collegial Model
This model encourages decision making through consensus. The applicability of this process is evident in academic decisions but can also be seen in the influence of "shared responsibility." This model is similar to the rational model in that it has a unifying property.
Chaffee, p. 24-27
Political Model
This model is ideal for use in interdepartmental decisions but is often associated with high profile decision making. An important aspect of this model is the use of negotiation and conflict resolution in coming to a decision.
Chaffee, p. 27-30
Bureaucratic Model
This decision making model follows a highly structured process. "It is most effective when applied to routine, often relatively unimportant situations" (p. 32). The ultimate goal of this model is to increase efficiency and can be seen most often in the university budgeting process.
Chaffee, p. 30-33
Organized Anarchy
This model is good at producing sudden shifts in decision making direction. It is a decision making model that encourages impromptu, not necessarily well-designed suggestions to fix problems in such a way that new problems occur later. Organized anarchy is likened to the idea of a traffic collision.
Chaffee, p. 33-37
Contextual Planning
Planning approach that takes institutional and environmental changes into consideration
Peterson p. 127-28
Long-Range Planning
It "asks 'What can we achieve in this environment?' and 'How can we get there?' It is responsive planning."
Peterson p. 134
Strategic Planning
"Its focus is on asking, 'How can we modify the institution to be a more effective competitor within our environment and our industry?' It is adaptive planning."
Peterson p. 135
Simultaneous tracking
Planning approach that allows for each subunit within an organization to make its own decisions. Organization must have an established, clear vision as a framework for the subunits to function appropriately.
Leslie & Fretwell, p. 127
“Any act where the executive risks his self-esteem. This could be a moment, for example, when he goes against the group view; when he tells someone, especially the person with the highest power, something negative about his impact on the organization; or when he seeks to put millions of dollars in a new investment.”
Argyris, p. 60
Pattern A
One of two behaviors of executives during the decision-making process; it is the one most often apparent during meetings. Pattern A is described as “thoughtful, rational, and mildly competitive.”
Argyris, p. 61
Pattern B
Another behavior pattern of executives observed during decision-making meetings. Pattern B behavior is “competitive first, thoughtful and rational second.”
Argyris, p. 61

Summary of Readings


Five Models of Organizational Decision Making

Chaffee focuses on the organizational level of analysis, specifically interactions that occur over time and lead the organization to select one course of action over other possibilities (5).

Chaffee also identifies five patterns that emerge to be known as organizational decision models
  1. Collegial
  2. Bureaucratic
  3. Political
  4. Anarchical
  5. Rational (often criticized as unrealistic, but almost universally accepted as the ideal model)

Administrators are resistant to applying management theories for several reasons
  • too complex
  • only applied after action is taken
  • believe they do not reflect individual management style
  • they seem unrealistic/cumbersome
  • administrators are too busy to analyze past decisions and see no reason to do so
  • seem useless when administrators think personal decisions are rational, yet modified to fit specific situations (6)

Chaffee counters these arguments with three counterclaims
  • the models reflect reality, even if they seem complex and abstract (often multiple are incorporated; example of budget decision-making)
  • analysis of the organizational decision-making can be useful (especially when distinct from the actual decision made)
  • theories on the organizational level are different than those at the individual level and the phenomena can be structured to promote desired decision making process, regardless of position within the organization
"The chief advantage of using models to analyze events is that they create distance between decisionmakers and decisions. Administrators can step back from a particular decision and ask, "What is going on here? What processes are we actually using? and what assumptions are guiding this process?..." (7-8)

Decision-making includes choice (how does the college make that choice?), process (deliberate, active decision-making), and change (result of organizational decisions)

Underlying features of decision-making include:
  1. The values of the organization and the actors within it
  2. The alternative courses of action considered
  3. The premise directing the consideration of alternatives

Rational Model
Example of University of California increasing required number of year-long courses required of high school students; values guided the decisions, alternatives were considered and it was guided by the premise that students would perform better under the new standards. Implementation changes not only UC but high school curriculum; results would be wide-reaching; results would be evaluated by feedback from student outcomes and other studies.

The rational model emphasizes known values, means to achieve ends, consideration of alternatives, and selecting the maximizing alternative

Values: controversial because it assumes values are known and ordered prior to making decision
Alternatives: maximize ability to achieve goal; do so by scanning alternatives
Choice: deliberate action
Implementation, Results, and Feedback: important part of decision-making process and reflection on decision (these models do not rely solely on how to make the decision, but also how to review these decisions to better predict future successes)

Collegial Model
This model operates under the assumption that faculty work together toward common goals, directing the institution. This most likely applies to academic decisions today, as faculty infrequently make institutional decisions.

A good time to utilize this model, according to Chaffee, would be in times of hardship when staff resources are cut and staff could band together to provide a united (collegial) front. However, this model often focuses solely on faculty, thus leaving out this possible use.

Political Model
This model is often utilized for interdepartmental decision-making. This fits with the notion of an institutional as a political entity, unlike a corporation, plagued by internal conflict and impacted by its pluralism. Conflict resolution is the basis of this model, particularly when investigating the conflicting interests of parties. Much of this is a power play over limited resources. This model is less than ideal because it does not allow for a superordinate goal and the educational function of the university is forgotten.


Bureaucratic Model
The characteristics of this model are so narrowly focused that actors in decisions may not even be aware they are making a decision. This process plays into the organization's hierarchical structure and standard operating procedure as integral to the decision-making process. This model is oriented toward efficiency, despite the stereotype of bureaucracies as slow and inefficient. Budgeting is an example of bureaucracy-- there is a process, a framework, and a standard based on years past.


Organized Anarchy
This is often an accident-- the result of diverse goals or ill-understood technology or scarcity of time and resources. Organized anarchy is a result of ambiguity in many cases. Purposeful action is hindered by this ambiguity. Values are diffuse and multiple and don't often come into play. This model is analogous to a traffic collision.


Leslie & Fretwell

Decisions and Conflict
This chapter focused on how institutions make decisions during times of fiscal uncertainty. Though the driving force and stress associated with financial dilemmas seems to be a good way to examine how decisions are made under pressure, Leslie and Fretwell lead us to believe that there are real implications as to how these decision-making processes can be modeled in other situations. Leslie and Fretwell point out the underlying theme in the decision-making process as one of conflict. How institutions handled conflict within the process and between stakeholders determined the type of strategy use in making a particular decision.

During their study, Leslie and Fretwell found that, particularly in times of financial crisis, the task of decision making fell to the CEO and/or other key leaders within the organization. This finding was linked with the availability of resources. In times of prosperity, when the institutions had plenty of resources, decision making played a more decentralized role. Managers of various departments could handle those decisions on their own. However, when resources were scarce, decision management fell to the leaders at the head of the organization, i.e. the president, vice president(s), board(s), etc.

In these situations, presidents would do one of two things: openly discuss what was going on or tighten control. Some presidents opted for a more human resource friendly approach by disseminating information to the institution, developing a common understanding about the views and ultimately creating a flatter, less centralized mode of decision making. Unfortunately, this method risked the president's ability to produce or put forth any individual analysis or plan. By relying on a more structural, top-down approach, other presidents not only placed the burden of risk on themselves rather than exposing other members of the institution, but also created a climate where middle management had little freedom to make any decisions. Using a more top-down approach reduced the collaborative element typically associated with the decision-making process. Ironically, in situations where there was a need for serious and clear decision, there was more aversion to the idea of the president (or other leader) acting/deciding alone. This tension produced the "conflict" that Leslie and Fretwell mention.

Another interesting development that Leslie and Fretwell point out is that "political interests simultaneously demand change and prevent it" (p. 109). It is not hard to see our current political climate through this lens - the state legislature wants institutions to be more accountable, more efficient and ends up producing the opposite effect when they implement their own changes, i.e. requiring more assessment to determine the quality of education, which takes faculty time to complete those reports and reduces the amount of time they have to actually teach and mentor students.

The article mentions the use of "joint big-decision committees" (JBDC) such as the "Futures Committee" at Penn State and the "Long-Range Planning Committee" at Syracuse (p. 110). Each can operate differently:
  1. CEO can chair the committee
  2. JBDC presents the CEO with options
  3. CEO receives reports from JBDC but has option to develop an independent strategy

Steps in the Decision Making Process
  1. Define the Situation: Centralize planning, analyzing and deciding.
  2. Promote Understanding of the Problem's Dimensions
    • Main component: Producing a sense of reality around the issue. Constituents have to feel that the issue deserves appropriate attention in order to get involved and be committed. For example: If members of the institution did not believe the organization was in financial trouble, if the president downplayed the situation, its impact and the consequences for the institution, then members were less inclined to take the matter seriously.
    • In Leslie and Fretwell's study, they found that "understanding was clearest and most comprehensive at the top of an institution's hierarchy, and became a good deal more tenuous and fragmented closer to the bottom" (p. 112). One reason for this lack of understanding of the problem could be that financial information is hard to communicate to constituents who have little or no background in or understanding of financial matters at the institutional level. Another reason is that they do not feel like "they have a personal stake in the institution's future" (p. 113). Leslie and Fretwell emphasize the importance of central administrators to communicate the "big picture" and maintain the continuity of this communication even when there might be committee member turnover.
  3. Identify Alternative Solutions
    • As a common factor among all the institutions in Leslie and Fretwell's study, regardless of personal style, each President "had been open, forthright, and candid with the campus community" (p. 115). In most cases, these Presidents were realistic in their approach to the problem solving. Another major factor that presidents highlighted was the emphasis on media and communication efforts. Each CEO became the "speaker" of the issue, carrying the "burden of public relations" for the institutions (p. 116). A third important feature of presidential leadership is that those within that role intricately understood the strengths and weaknesses of the institution. This afforded the presidents the know-how for orchestrating all the aspects in the decision-making process. Because the presidents had a working knowledge of all the moving parts, they were able to use this knowledge to influence the timing of their strategies. Making the distinction of when to move ahead as well as the amount of effort to use in completing the task became a central part of the presidents' function within decision making.
    • External v. Internal Conflicts
      • Within a financial crisis, decision-making strategies fell victim to not only the political environment surrounding the institutions but also conflicting voices within the organization. Decisions were difficult to make when considering the uncertainty of the policies put forth by local governments. In order to control for the effects of policy inconsistencies and changes, institutions had to anticipate and prepare for circumstances that were not always predetermined. Within the institutional structure, providing opportunities for members to be involved with the process did not always yield the best results. In some cases, these groups brought forth too many options that lead to fatigue and burnout. In others, too much open communication, both laterally and vertically, opened the doors for anxiety and confusion

Types of conflict:
  1. Breaking with the Past: How honest and open should an institution really be?
    • Institutions are slow to change. Not only do you have to organize a process and come to a consensus about a plan of action about the crisis, but then you have to implement it. In order to implement the strategy, you have to have everyone on board.
    • If an institution is serious about creating an environment where they are open and honest about their current financial crisis, there is potential backlash in the form of recruiting new students and potential donors. If they perceive the institution as going down the drain, why would they want to waste money on a losing battle?
  2. Faculty Responsiveness: How do you get everyone on board?
    • Motivating the faculty to change requires incentives. This is where it is important to be candid about the situation because faculty members may not really see the whole problem or being looking at the problem realistically. In these situations, faculty will railroad any attempts to change because they do not realize the full potential of the crisis. One way faculty seem to unite is by viewing the crisis as a "issue of their common survival" (p. 124).
    • This may become a problem when faculty members need to analyze the budget for a particular department. More conflicts may surface in the form of ideology, program survival as well as conflicts regarding the competing demands of students and parents.
  3. Process: How do you create a process that is transparent?
    • When perceived as moving too fast or going too far in its implied changes, members of the institution may put up resistance in the form of rallies or in the form of a more private, implied resistance, ex. faculty role sacred.
  4. Open/Closed: Is the change process open or closed?
    • In situations where the process was perceived as closed, institutional members view the process with paranoia and open resistance. When they do not know what is going on or what to expect, members may feel that the process leaves them not knowing what other members are thinking about the situation.
    • In situations where the process was perceived as too open, members engage in a flurry of activity, much of which creates confusion and instills a sense of "nothing gets done."

Leslie and Fretwell suggest that an approach to decision making called simultaneous tracking as a good alternative to heavy-handed strategic planning in a crisis. As observed at some of the institutions in their study, this approach suggest forward motion in the process by addressing several problems simultaneously. "It is a way of dealing with separate components of a problem nonsequentially, nonhierarchically, and in a nonlinear way" (p. 127). They provide two supports for this approach. First, Bowen and Douglass (1971) found that there are no "superior efficiencies" in the arrangement between certain elements like curriculum and instruction (p. 127). They suggest that in using this logic, the assumption that funding and programs are tightly related may be inaccurate. This concept provides that by changing one, the other may not be impacted. The second support comes from the idea of colleges and universities are "loosely coupled systems" (p. 127). The premise behind this support is that in an institution, relatively autonomous subunits can make their own decisions without seriously impacted any other subunits as longs as there is an overarching direction provided for the entire institution. Simultaneous tracking allows for each subunit to be responsible and accountable for its own success and shortcomings, taking pressure off the institution as a whole. Not only does this approach allow for more discretion among lower and middle management but it takes some of the pressure off the CEO to institute a broad change that may or may not work well for the individual subunits. The key with this approach is to make sure that there is an overall vision of what the institution is trying to achieve to guide each of the units in their decisions.


Contextual Planning

Contextual Planning is an approach to planning that takes the institutional and environmental landscape into consideration. Planning needs to meet the following conditions to be successful:
  1. Proactive
  2. Transformational
  3. Anticipate Change
  4. Comprehensive
  5. Leadership

Evolution of Planning Approaches

The three approaches to planning are:
  1. Long-Range
  2. Strategic
  3. Conceptual

"The approaches to planning are contingent on and reflect the changing complexity and competitiveness of the industry and the increasing turbulence in our institutional environment (Table 7.1)" (p. 133).

"Table 7.1 portrays a model suggesting how these approaches to planning are related to the condition of the institution's resource environment and its industry perspective" (p. 129).


Three Planning Approaches: Elaborating Contextual Planning

Tables 7.2 & 7.3 compare contextual planning to long-range and strategic planning in terms of the external ("principal organization-environment dynamics") and internal ("the planning focus") perspectives (p. 133).



Process View

"Firgure 7.1 presents a framework for understanding contextual planning and seven process elements that seem to be reflected in this planning approach" (p. 138).

Process Elements
  1. Insight - Examination of the postsecondary industry and knowledge
  2. Initiative - Establishment of initiatives based on SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis of the organization
  3. Investment in infrastructure - "Invest resources in building an infrastructure that will serve and support groups in their development of ideas, efforts, and programs consisten with an initiative" (p. 141).
  4. Incentives - Provide rewards for involvement or support (could be monetary or other, such as time off from work)
  5. Involvement - Provide opportunities for involvement from various levels of the organization
  6. Information - Keep constituents informed. The initiative should be explained to internal and external constituents. Develop a communication plan.
  7. Integration - "The new structures, programs, and activities need to be integrated into the organization and managed as part of its ongoing efforts" (p. 143).



A paradigm shift is needed to implement contextual planning in the areas of perspective, change and thinking.
  1. Cross-Industry Knowledge - Survey knowledge in areas related to or may overlap with postsecondary education, such as information technology and telelecommunications
  2. Change Orientation - The existing organization may need to undergo a strategic planning process, such as reorganization, redefining mission and vision, etc. In order for change to occur on a macro level (institutional level), changes may need to occur on the micro level (individual/departmental level).
  3. Contextual Thinking - "It involves an emphasiss on reshaping the external environment of one's institution and the internal design and function of the institution-reshaping internal and external contexts" (p. 150).

Models. Previous and existing models of higher ed entities include: "bureaucracies, collegial communities, political entities, organized anarchies" (p. 151). Newer models related to contextual planning are:
  1. Organization as a Network or Interorganizational Network - Collaboration within the organization and with external entities
  2. Organization as Conglomerate - Create a flatter organizational heirarchy through the development of a "core identity" and allowing autonomous units to operate by coordinating with other units in the organziation
  3. Organization as Culture - Critical to faculty and staff because it deals with the "sensitivity to and management of the organizational culture" (p. 151).

Performance. Performance indicators in contextual planning are "new, broader, and less clearly defined", as a result, it is difficult to "operationalize and measure" performance for an organization using contextual planning (p. 152). However, the presence of "redefinition of instutional role and mission, redirection of external relationships" indicate contextual planning is occuring (p. 152).

Macro Change. Implicit with contextual planning is change at the institution on the macro level. This means institutions must go beyond micro changes to institute large scale change. The modification of policies and procedures is an example of change at the micro level, whereas the redefinition of the organization's mission and vision is an example of macro change.

Assessment. Currently, institutions assess academic curricula, employee performance, etc (assessment at the micro level). Contextual planning calls for assessment forms of a broader nature. Institutions should implement formative assessments of the organization's readiness for contextual planning and macro change. Assesment of the change process as it is being implemented is important for creating momentum for the support and success of the planning effort.

Paradox: Change and Consistency, Conflict and Commitment. Conflict is inherent in the change process. With contextual planning, divergent views arise that need to be addressed by the organization's leaders. According to Peterson, this process "may strengthen commitment in the long run" (p. 153).

Resourses and Risk. Contextual planning "requires the commitment of substantial resources" and "a willlingness to assess and face risks" (p. 154).

Leadership. Contextual planning requires "multidimensional leadership" (p. 154). As a result, the following four leadership styles are essential to contextual planning:
  1. Transformational
  2. Strategic
  3. Managerial
  4. Interpretative


Interpersonal Barriers to Decision Making

Argyris studied 165 top executives over the course of over 265 various meeting in type and size at six different companies—representative of business, education, government, research, ministry, and trade union organizations—to examine the decision making of these executives. He found weaknesses in the process that he argues exist, to varying degrees, at all organizations.

Argyris found discrepancies between what executives say regarding effective executive action and decision-making behavior, and what they actually do when it comes to acting. The four major findings of his study are:
  • The actual behavior of top executives during decision-making meetings often does not jibe with their attitudes and prescriptions about effective executive action.
  • The gap that often exists between what executives say and how they behave helps create barriers to openness and trust, to the effective search for alternatives, to innovation, and to flexibility in the organization.
  • These barriers are more destructive in important decision-making meetings than in routine meetings, and they upset effective managers more than ineffective ones.
  • The barriers cannot be broken down simply by intellectual exercises. Rather, executives need feedback concerning their behavior and opportunities to develop self-awareness in action. To this end, certain kinds of questioning are valuable; playing back and analyzing tape recordings of meetings has proved to be a helpful step; and laboratory education programs are valuable. pp. 59-60.

Argyris found discrepancies between what executives say is important for decision-making, and how they actually act in these situations. For example, risk-taking, flexibility, and trust are all considered important in effective decision-making. However, these executives’ decision-making processes were found to not be very effective, and there was very little risk-taking, flexibility, or trust observed at these meetings. He noted that these executives’ behavior fit into two basic patterns:
  1. Pattern A—“thoughtful, rational, and mildly competitive”(p.61). Argyris writes this is the most frequently observed behavior in decision-making meetings. This behavior involves being open to the ideas and points of view of others so they can discredit those people.
  2. Pattern B—“competitive first, thoughtful and rational second” (p.61). This behavior involves high levels of antagonism to others’ ideas, which indicates “high-competitiveness, a high degree of conflict and pent-up feelings” (p. 62).

Argyris identified three basic values or assumptions that he believes play an important role among top executives’ beliefs of how most effectively to manage organizations and on the nature of successful human relationships. Those three values are:
  1. The significant human relationships are the ones which have to do with achieving the organization’s objective. pp. 64-65. This value indicates that executives are more concerned with the bottom line, with “getting the job done”, versus spending time determining the group’s effectiveness.
  2. Cognitive rationality is to be emphasized; feelings and emotions are to be played down. p. 65. The executives interviewed believe that emotions hinder the effectiveness of groups, and should be left out of decision-making processes; there is only room for facts and rationality.
  3. Human relationships are most effectively influenced through unilateral direction, coercion, and control, as well as by rewards and penalties that sanction all three values. p. 65. Argyris writes that this value can be seen in the hierarchy of a company and in the “elaborate managerial controls that have been developed within organizations.”

The consequences of these values, include:
  • Less risk taking, which results in less vitality of the organization
  • Restricted commitment—this happens when major decisions are issued from the head of an organization, without discussion about it. This can cause others to be less committed to the decision.
  • Subordinate gamesmanship—the act of carefully wording information given to executives regarding problems faced. This includes giving the executives bad news about major problems in a way that softens the impact, followed by reassurances of getting back on track quickly, and avoiding issuing assurances of averting continued delays.
  • Lack of awareness—this involves top executives’ lacking awareness of their behavior and the negative way that impacts their subordinates. This flows into the issue of:
  • Blind spots—when executives are unaware that their subordinates have negative feelings about them. In most of the organizations Argyris studied, the executives believed that they had good relationships with their subordinates, but this was not the case when those subordinates were interviewed.
  • Distrust and antagonism—this occurs when executives create distrust when promotions and reasons for executive changes are kept partly or completely secret, such as: re-shuffling of an organizational chart, or creating new departments that have competing goals of existing departments.
  • Processes damaged—better executives are typically the ones who are upset by and impacted more by these consequences.

Argyris offers some solutions to these problems:
  • Not to use learning through lectures, books or case studies. Behaviors that Argryis observed, such as those mentioned above, are difficult to change, and Argyris does not believe reading about the problems, attending lectures, or learning about them through cases is helpful because he believes that those methods alone cannot change the behaviors. Three of the executives studied tried to disprove Argyris, Argyris’ beliefs turned out to be correct; the executives’ behavior was not effectively changed in the long run.
  • Value of questions—having open feedback from subordinates makes authority of top executives stronger.
  • Working with group—striving to increase effectiveness of groups with changes will allow trust and openness toincrease, and this can help with groups becoming more effective.
  • Utilizing feedback—this involves tape recording decision-making meetings, and later listening to these recordings. This can work even better if a consultant can be brought in to help analyze group and individual behavior. There are two main ways feedback helps:
  1. Feedback allows members to see “binds” they created that impeded effective group functioning.
  2. Feedback allows more progress to be achieved because members “experienced fewer binds, less hostility, less frustraiuon, and more constructive work” (p. 89).
  • Laboratory training—program designed to improve effective communication and decision-making behavior. Also known as “’T-groups’, ‘managerial grid’, ‘conflict management labs’” (p. 91). These labs can be created especially for an organization, allowing them to be even more effective. This is only useful in some cases, often most helpful on an individual, rather than organizational level.
  • Open discussion—this involves discussing problems and organizational effectiveness, checking to see how things are going and where and how they can improve.

In-Class Discussion

Guest Lecturer: Dr. Carin Barber

  • April 20—Group Case Study Due
  • April 27—Individual Case Study Analysis & International Comparative Due
  • May 4—Personal Philosophy and Discussion Board Questions Posted and Answered for International Comparative Due


"Apollo 13 " Video Clip
  • Watched clip, then discussed the type of decision-making and leadership style used in the video clip. Group responses included: (1) Rational, (2) Social Constructivist, (3) Symbolism and (4) Bureaucratic.
  • "Failure is not an option." - What are some examples in higher education administration when failure is not an option? (1) Accreditation, (2) Institutional & Departmental Rankings (ex: US World News & Report), (3) Clery Act Violation.
  • How does crisis play into decision-making? (Institutions may follow a protocol in place or may make decisions at a moment's notice because a protocol does not exist or is not followed by stakeholders involved.)

Chaffee Article Discussion - Part I
  • Quote on p. 29: "An example of this process occurred at a Midwestern campus in the spring of 1982 when the dean of arts and sciences was forced by a vice-chancellor (the more powerful actor) to accept budget cuts and retaliated by withdrawing critical resources—25 sections of expository writing, required for graduation by most of the professional schools. The dean also cut the English department’s budget, and that department in turn retaliated by withdrawing classes in technical writing, again in a required course for some schools."
  • What are some examples of power plays such as this in higher education administration? Examples: (1) VCU raised tuition and state cut appropriations as a result of the increase, (2) Institutions that raise fees rather than raising tuition.

Institutional Sagas
  • Discussed institutional sagas that members of the group experienced at their current or previous institution. Examples: (1) Death of a student, (2) Sexual Assault, etc.
  • Discussed situations where we had been in the position of a resource being cut and using the power of withholding something as retaliation.

Chaffee Article Discussion - Part II
  • Quote on p. 30: "The budgeting process is particular is cited as a political activity in which 'the rich get richer': successful use of power brings benefits that add power for use in the next round."
  • Who are "rich" in our organizations? The class identified examples of entities in a position of power in higher education administration. Examples: (1) Deans of various colleges at an instititution, (2) Administrators who have higher salaries than faculty at community colleges, (3) Athletics/Activities Fees imposed upon students who many not utilize those particular resources in their tenure at an institution, (4) Stakeholders raising tuition.

Case Study Handout & Group Work
  • Ranked priorities for which policies to implement (including cutting blue light safety program, freezing salaries, and delaying implementation of multicultural general education requirement) based on the given priorities of the institution.
  • Discussed in our case study groups to come to consensus and share results with the class.
  • Discussed disparities (such as cutting campus emergency medical services) and how our previous experiences have impacted our decisions and our rationale.

Peterson Article Discussion
  • Quote on p. 136: "The intent of planning is to identify your institution's comparative advantage and the market niche it will attempt to fill."
  • Discussed the niche and comparative advantage of schools with which students are or have been affiliated. Examples: W&M, University of Richmond, Germanna Community College, Newport News Apprentice School, Hampton University & Old Dominion University.

External Resources

1. Swenk, J. (1999). Planning failures: decision cultural clashes. The Review of Higher Education, 23(1), 1-21.
Abstract: This paper describes inconsistencies between the rational decision-making basis for strategic planning and higher education’s collegial/professional, dual hierarchical decision-making culture—inconsistencies that pose obvious problems for strategic planning in higher education. The results of a case study illustrate the cultural clashes that can occur when those differences are ignored. Finally, the article suggests several steps for alleviating such problems.

2. Below is a scene from the movie Thirteen Days about the Cuban Missile Crisis, an example of power and a decision-making process.

3. Timberlake, G.R. (2004). Decision-Making in multi-campus higher education institutions. Community College Enterprise, 10(2), 91-99.
Abstract: The author investigated decision-making in multi-campus higher education environments via separate interviews with eight professionals asked to describe relevant experiences. The results point to leadership, participation, autonomy/centralization and structure as important factors in understanding decision-making in such environments. Evidence indicates that autonomy and centralization are often opposing forces, and organizational success may be enhanced by balancing them through the effective use of participation.

4. Group Decision Making That Works (Video)
This four-minute video provides an overview of five decision-making methods: (1) Consensus, (2) Democratic, (3) Dictatorial, (4) Consultative & (5) Group Consultative. After watching the video, compare and contrast these techniques with Chaffee's 5 Models of Decision-Making: (1) Collegial, (2) Bureaucratic, (3) Political, (4) Anarchical, and (5) Rational.