university hierarchy

university hierarchy - HERDING CATS IN UNIVERSITY...

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H ERDING C ATS IN U NIVERSITY H IERARCHIES : T HE I MPACT OF F ORMAL S TRUCTURE ON D ECISION - MAKING IN A MERICAN R ESEARCH U NIVERSITIES * T HOMAS H. H AMMOND D EPARTMENT OF P OLITICAL S CIENCE M ICHIGAN S TATE U NIVERSITY E AST L ANSING , MI 48824 (E- MAIL : THAMMOND @ MSU . EDU ) Abstract. This paper presents a “bottom-up” perspective on how the formal structures of American research universities might affect the outcomes from their decision-making processes. It is posited that different ways of structuring the university will affect the bottom-up flow of in- formation, advice, and conflicts over policy implementation in predictable ways. In particular, different structures will bring different kinds of information, different packages of advice, and different sets of conflicts to the top-level administrator. A top-level administrator who is designing a formal structure for her university will thus want to design a structure which brings to her the kinds of information, advice, and conflicts which she considers most important. * To be presented at the conference on “Governance in Higher Education,” Cornell University, June 4-5, 2002. I would like to thank Robert Birnbaum, Marvin Peterson, M. Christopher Brown, Craig Volden, and Ken Koford for their encouragement on this project and their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. c:/univstrdir/Cornell Draft Draft of Tuesday, April 16, 2002
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University Hierarchies 05/07/02 at 9:38 AM p.2 I. I NTRODUCTION Research universities in the United States are often described in relatively non-hierarchical terms, and there are good reasons for this perspective. Department chairs and higher-level ad- ministrators, for example, find it all but impossible to fire tenured faculty members: as long as these faculty members meet minimal standards of teaching and personal behavior, they can re- main employed until they make their own decision to retire. Moreover, the initial recommenda- tions on promotion and tenure are largely in the hands of departmental faculty members, and higher-level reviews of these recommendations are generally conducted by committees domi- nated by tenured faculty members. Proposals to change departmental curricula are also largely in the hands of departmental faculty members, and higher-level reviews of these proposals are generally made by committees dominated not by administrators but by other faculty members. Furthermore, the faculty members’ disciplinary training, coupled with their own personal concerns and interests, largely govern their choices of research topic; higher-level administrators can affect these decisions only at the margin. And those faculty members who are most produc- tive (in publications and especially in grantsmanship) are often in a position of strength when bargaining with department chairs and higher-level administrators: a threat to decamp for another university usually carries considerable weight in salary negotiations and related matters. These general characteristics of research universities have given rise to a well-known simile:
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university hierarchy - HERDING CATS IN UNIVERSITY...

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