Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Characteristics of Effectiveness: An Empirical Study

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Characteristics of Effectiveness: An Empirical Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined student characteristics and perceptions of university effectiveness, defined as a value judgment based on students perceptions of congruence between the importance of several activity domains and how well the domains are achieved by the institution. The results of this study revealed differences among the perceptions of various student groups by race, age, gender, financial aid status, and campus residence status. This finding is important because it lends strong support to earlier findings regarding the effect of age on students' perceptions of effectiveness.

Introduction

Students enrolled in college for the first time make judgments early in their academic careers regarding several characteristics of the institutions they are attending. Whether students' first impressions are positive or negative often determines their decisions to stay or transfer to another institution. The question is, how do students form impressions of institutions and what variables lead students to prefer some institutions to other institutions? This raises the issue of how do students rate organizational activities. Organizational activities are the 54 items included in the instrument used for this study. To investigate this problem, the following theoretical framework was used.

Theoretical Framework

The background for this study comes from an examination of the literature on organizational effectiveness and a desire to contribute meaningful research information. The strategic constituencies approach, also referred to as the ecological approach or the participant-satisfaction approach (Connolly, Conlon, & Deutsch, 1980; Keeley, 1978; Miles, 1980), suggests that an effective organization satisfies, at least to some degree, the demands of constituencies in its environment from whom it must have support for continued existence. This approach assumes that an organization is faced with frequent and competing demands from a variety of interest groups. Because the interest groups are of unequal importance, effectiveness is determined by the organization's ability to identify its strategic constituencies and to satisfy the demands placed upon the organization (Kleemann & Richardson, 1985). Students are a valuable national resource for institutions of higher learning. The decision of students to attend or not attend a particular college or university is an important one. Changes which are occurring at an increasingly accelerated pace have resulted in a knowledge explosion in the fields of finance, medicine, economics, engineering, politics, and others (Graham and Gisi, 2000; Karemera, Reuben, and Sillah 2003; Mitchell 1982). Previous studies have demonstrated that minorities can succeed in a variety of settings when institutions accept the responsibility for improving the environment. Data also indicate that after the year 2005, Blacks and Hispanics will make up the largest portion of the population in the southwest under the age of thirty (Fields 1988; Graham and Gisi, 2000; Rankin and Reason, 2005). These predictions create many concerns in institutions of higher learning. As the demographic characteristics of students change, a better understanding of how these changes affect the perceptions of students can help administrators to understand and influence the environment in which institutions exist and upon which they depend for resources (Hu & St. John, 2001; Kleemann and Richardson 1985; Rankin and Reason, 2005). These factors have implications in the definition and assessment of organizational effectiveness.

Individuals are continually laced with the need to make judgments about the effectiveness of organizations (Cameron and Whetten 1983b; Kuh, 1995). For example, a student decides which public school to attend, which company's stock to purchase, or which college to attend. These decisions and many more depend on judgments of organizational effectiveness. …

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