Student Perceptions of Two State Universities in Texas: A Comparative Analysis

Article excerpt

Rapidly changing environments press institutions of higher learning to respond in an appropriate and timely fashion. This study explores the relationship between student characteristics and perceptions of two state universities. Using t-Test of independent samples, when the scores of the two groups are computed, the analysis shows a statistically significant difference on some domains at the .05 level. The results from additional analysis of data from these groups are reported in tabular form. Both groups alike differed in their perceptions of how well their universities were performing activities. Students' opinions regarding the importance of the activities also varied.

Introduction

The search of the literature reveals that higher education is entering a rapidly changing and somewhat hostile environment. Young people of today are a different generation. It is important for educators in higher education to understand how their changing environment affects their perceptions of organizational effectiveness with respect to their satisfaction. The role of higher education should reflect the perceptions of strategic constituencies accordingly.

The definition of organizational effectiveness in the literature generally falls into one of four approaches. In general, organizational effectiveness can be defined as an organization or institution that successfully identifies its critical constituencies--customers, government agencies, financial institutions, students, labor unions and so forth--and then satisfies, at least minimally, their demands (Cameron 1978b, 17; Hage 1980, 136; Miles 1980, 375). It is important to measure effectiveness from the perspective of each of the different constituencies of an organization (Kleemann 1984; Miles 1980; Pfeffer and Salancik 1978). Miles (1980) notes that organizational assessment cannot be judged apart from the strategic constituencies. A strategic constituency is a group of essential individuals who have powerful influence within an organization and are resource providers. Research shows that different constituencies hold different preferences for organizational effectiveness.

Theoretical Framework

In the last three decades, the topic of organizational effectiveness has been of considerable interest in the administrative and organizational sciences. Since its inception, several hundred articles, chapters, and books have been written on the subject of organizational effectiveness (Cameron 1978a, 1980, 1981a; Cameron and Wheaten 1983b; Campbell 1977; Dubin 1976; Graham and Gisi, 2000; Ghorpade 1971; Goodman 1979; Gigliotti 1987; Hannan and Freeman 1977; Kleemann and Richardson 1985; Mott 1972; Pennings 1975; Price 1968, 1972a). Each researcher begins his or her work by indicating the conceptual dilemma and methodological problem surrounding this construct and almost all indicate that little agreement exists about what organizational effectiveness means or how to adequately measure it. Authors writing on the subject are so disillusioned that they often cause more confusion than enlightenment. Despite this shortcoming, the study of effectiveness remains an important issue.

The strategic constituencies approach seems logical, but it is not easy to operationalize. The task of separating strategic constituencies from a larger environment is often not as easily accomplished as the example suggests. Because the environment is changing rapidly, what was critical to an organization yesterday is not necessarily so today or tomorrow. In spite of its difficulties, the strategic constituencies approach can result in dividends. By operationalizing the strategic constituencies approach, organizations decrease the possibility that the organization might ignore or upset groups whose power could significantly hinder operations.

Although several authors have contributed to the general understanding of effectiveness at the organizational and institutional level, almost no research has been completed to increase understanding of college upper--classmen's perceptions of the effectiveness of state universities. …