October 14, 2016

Ozcan, K., Karatas, I.H., Caglar, C., & Polat, M. (2014). Administrator’s Power Usage Styles and Their Impact on the Organizational Culture in Colleges of Education: A Case Study. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14 (2), 560-569.

This study was designed to determine how the power usage styles of administrators of faculties of education influence the organizational culture in their respective faculties. The study was conducted using the qualitative phenomenological method. The study group was comprised of twenty academics from seven different colleges of education, and the data was gathered using semi-structured interviews during which the answers were both written and recorded. The results were analyzed using statistical techniques.

The authors discovered that the two main sources of power for college administrators are: (1) legal power combined with the authorization of senior managements, and (2) the administrators’ own communication skills and individual capacities. Ozcan, Karatas, Caglar, and Polat (2014) note that the power usage styles of administrators, “lead to the emergence of various organizational cultures…[and students] are affected positively or negatively by their respective administrators’ power usage styles just as much as they are by the organizational culture and professional identity of faculty” (pg.561). Thus is appears that an administrator’s actual power or the way in which the power is perceived by subordinates has a direct influence on the organizational culture of the institution, which then has a direct effect on both faculty and students.

Ozcan et. al. (2014) go into great detail in their literature review describing various types of social power and its sources. They also provide several definitions of organizational culture. Their primary definition classifies organizational culture as consisting of, “shared views, ideologies, beliefs, feelings, assumptions, expectations, norms and value patterns of any specific organization as well as the beliefs that promote and maintain individuals’ norms and behaviors within that institution” (pg. 562). They note that shared values may be likewise influenced by the attitudes, skills, and personal characteristics of a college’s administrators. They cite Pheysey (1993) who identifies four different types of organizational culture: bureaucratic, success, support, and power.

Of these four types, two seem to be most conducive to promoting collaboration and community in a college environment. Success culture means that organizations support members who work successfully. Under this design individual responsibility is championed, and the realization of purposes and the completion of tasks is more important than rules. Support culture refers to a type of organization in which there are commitment and mutual relations among members. Under this design values such as partnerships, friendship, and belonging are promoted. It is also essential in this design that members maintain reliability, support, high expectations for success, and open communication among members. In the study conducted by Ozcan et. al. (2014) subjects who worked at institutions with bureaucratic or power based organizational cultures reported the least amount of satisfaction.

By and large the study participants seemed to be dissatisfied with the management styles of their administrators. According to Ozcan et. al. (2014), “80% stated that faculty administrators did not have any ability to manage the faculty” (pg.565). This dissatisfaction could stem in part from the fact that the majority of college administrators did not appear to have had any formal management training. This meant that the management style of any administrator was most heavily influenced by their own experience and personality rather than any larger organizational culture at their institution. Ozcan et. al. (2014) also note that, “55% [of study participants] remarked that administrators did not motivate employees…[and] 45% remarked that administrators were the reason for departmental chaos” (pg.565). While this statistics may seem a little shocking, it is very possible that similar situations play out in colleges all over the world.

This begs the question of why things are not handled differently. In the corporate world any person expected to manage as many people as the average faculty administrator would receive adequate managerial training. Perhaps we need to rethink the way we view colleges, particularly their hierarchical structure. There is obvious danger in equating a college with a business for a variety of reasons. For example quality of education cannot be measured in the way sales can. If we think of a college as a money-making entity that must reach a “bottom line,” we endanger the very soul of learning. That said, there are some ideas from the business world that could be readily and successfully applied to a college environment. Chief among them is the idea that organizational culture must be cultivated and supported from the top down.

That means that a college must have a clear and detailed understanding of the goals for its individual institution. Those goals must be printed and widely distributed. They must be held up as a standard for all members of the community to meet. This means also that people who will be given power must be taught how to use that power in a way that supports and furthers the goals of the college. Perhaps most importantly it is essential that any person in a place of power in an organization or college be open to dialogue in a way that empowers members to their community to speak freely. This policy of communication is a groundwork that will show support for community members and help them to feel engaged in the life and well-being of the college.  This will in turn trickle down in the form of student retention and higher graduation rates.

In the conclusion Ozcan et. al. (2014) note that in their study administrators’ leadership traits and styles were not examined. While this is something to consider, in other ways it doesn’t matter that much. The reason is because the perception of their leadership styles is what is having the greatest impact on their campuses. The authors also note that their study revealed that administrators do not attend in-service trainings. This is reminiscent of the parenting saying, “do as I say, not as I do.” If administrators want to enact real and positive reform on their campuses, they have to hold themselves to the same standard they hold those they manage. Ozcan et. al. (2014) close by saying, “In order to increase the success of an organization, faculty administrators should pay attention to the institution’s culture and social capital. These important points will help to improve employees’ perceptions of the organization environment, their institutional commitment, and overall job satisfaction” (pg.567). Hopefully more faculty administrators will read these words and take them to heart.

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