Higher education: power and influence of academic administrative staff members

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Higher education: power and influence of academic administrative staff members

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This study examines the role of informal power sources available to administrative staff in university academic departments. The research question that drives the analysis is, "In what ways do administrative staff members utilize informal power to influence departmental decision-making?" Data were collected through interviews with chairs, Directors of Graduate Studies, faculty, and administrative staff at a public research university, utilizing a structured interview guide. Results indicate that staff members in the four departments studied possess and use formal and informal power sources. The formal bases of power studied are formal power and legal prerogative power. The major sources of staff informal power described by the interview participants are productive power (notably, political alliances), information power, and resource power. The study suggests that administrative staff members have access to informal power and those with the skill and willingness to use that power can impact departmental decisions.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2014. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Melissa Susan Anderson. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 160 pages, appendices A-F.

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Thompson, Denise Renae. (2014). Higher education: power and influence of academic administrative staff members. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/163922.

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