Models of Organizational Values in the Administration of University Student Services
Values theorists across disciplines agree that understanding and applying the phenomenon of organizational values is integral to organizational effectiveness (Beck, 1990; Davidson, 2005; Francis & Woodcock, 1990; Lafleur, 1999; Richmon, 2003, 2004). Consensus on this issue is further evidenced by popular use of the phrase “organizational values” in management, school systems, and university administrative parlance, leading many to believe that organizational values have been thoroughly investigated in the field of educational administration and elsewhere (Richmon, 2004). However, research in this area tends to be superficial, and a review of pertinent literature reveals no clear definition of organizational values or consequent implications for practical application. Since the practice of articulating organizational values is commonly conducted as a part of strategic planning processes, much activity and substantial investment is then occurring without full understanding of the phenomenon at hand. The purpose of this study was to uncover the descriptive, non-negotiable reality of organizational values in a particular context: university student services and administration. A critical realist’s methodology informed the development and implementation of a three-phase study. The aims of this research at each phase were to: (a) investigate how the reality of the organizational values phenomenon has been depicted theoretically in interdisciplinary research and literature; (b) examine how the concept of organizational values has been expressed in policy-driven artefacts in university student services; and (c) explore how the theoretical characteristics of organizational values are expressed in context of individual, phenomenological experiences of university student services and administration. The methods of inquiry used at each respective phase of study were cluster analysis, textual analysis, and episodic narrative interview. Additionally, model development was utilized during each phase of study to analyze the research results, and a comparison of models was conducted at the conclusion of the study as an approach to triangulation. Five key findings emerged from the collective analysis of all three phases of study. First, there was an indication of linguistic and structural inadequacy pertaining to organizational values discourse. Second, the activity associated with the organizational values concept is most frequently located in terms of personal working relationships rather than in context of institutional strategic planning processes. Third, administrative leaders play a key role in ensuring consistency with respect to organizational values understanding and implementation in university student services and administration. Fourth, a deep reality of the organizational values phenomenon was demonstrated at all phases of research. Finally, the idea of organizational values is important enough to scholars, policy makers, and front-line staff alike to warrant a great deal of time, financial, and human resource effort invested to engage explicitly with the concept in some manner. The results of this study have significant implications for both theory and practice in university student services and administration. The results informed recommendations made with respect to the development of fluency in values-related language, re-situating the process of articulating organizational values in university administration, incorporating organizational values into day-to-day administrative practice, and the role of university administrative leaders in organizational values work.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeBens, Susan; Wimmer, Randolph; Thompson, John
Copyright DateOctober 2013