Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Use of Mintzberg's Model of Managerial Roles to Evaluate Academic Administrators

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Use of Mintzberg's Model of Managerial Roles to Evaluate Academic Administrators

Article excerpt

Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to measure the administrative activities of physician assistant (PA) department chairpersons as compared with Henry Mintzberg's model of managerial roles. The use of Mintzberg's model is unique in that it was developed from observations in the corporate setting but was applied here in an academic setting. Both PA department chairpersons (n = 77) and PA faculty (n = 94) identified Mintzberg's leader role as one that was used most by PA chairpersons and one that was viewed as most important as perceived by PA chairpersons and faculty. Both groups agreed that PA chairpersons were more concerned about functioning in the interpersonal realms of Mintzberg's managerial roles as opposed to the informational and decisional realms, and there was a great deal of unanimity about the perceived role use and importance of the roles in regard to the job of a PA chairperson. This finding was important according to Mintzberg's model because it is through leader role use that PA chairpersons can weld diverse elements into a cooperative enterprise (an important aspect of managing academic departments). Chairpersons and faculty were given the opportunity to identify other constructs not covered by Mintzberg's model in an effort to include other roles unique to PA education. Although a handful of roles were identified, when compared with Mintzberg's model, each one matched an existing role defined in the model. These data indicate that both chairpersons and faculty were in agreement with the way Mintzberg's model can describe PA chairperson roles. J Allied Health 2006; 35:65-74.

THE CHAIRPERSON is an odd creature in an odd spot.1 In many ways, the chairperson is a blend of the lower-level corporate manager and a more service-related position. Rooted in the faculty like no other administrator but tied to the administration like no other faculty member, he or she has both an excess and a deficiency of identity.' As a result, the roles that need to be played are many and the responsibilities can be challenging.1 Despite the intricacies of running an academic department, chairpersons have very little administrative experience in doing so.2 Likewise, department chairpersons in the health professions are recruited from clinical positions without any academic experience, much less administrative experience. Of particular interest in this study was that of the physician assistant (PA) department chairperson, commonly referred to as a PA chairperson.

There are critical shortages of PA faculty in general and PA chairpersons in particular, partly because the PA profession is relatively young and one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States, with a 100% increase in new PA programs over the past seven years.' This translates into chairperson shortages and turnover throughout the United States. It is assumed (among other things) that these shortages and turnover are due to a general lack of understanding of administrative roles. Determining administrative roles used by PA department chairpersons should be helpful for recruitment and retention purposes and may lead to development of programs that appropriately inform those who are interested in becoming a PA academic administrator or for those who already serve in this position.4 Interventions of this kind may also lead to a stronger PA profession, both academically and professionally. This research focused on the managerial roles PA department chairpersons used and perceived as important as compared with Mintzberg's model.5 Knowing the managerial nature of individuals in PA chairperson positions, including the way they conduct themselves as managers, may be a significant resource when assisting others in the understanding of this position. Although Mintzberg's model has been used primarily to describe corporate managers, in this study it served as a framework for understanding the work of the PA academic chairperson.

Theoretical Approach

The conceptual framework selected for use was taken from Henry Mintzberg's well-tested and proven managerial model. …

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