Academic journal article American Journal of Business Research

From Boots on the Ground to Seats in the Classroom: An Assessment of Institutional Structure and Veteran Students

Academic journal article American Journal of Business Research

From Boots on the Ground to Seats in the Classroom: An Assessment of Institutional Structure and Veteran Students

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to answer the research question: Does variation exist in the organizational structure designed to service the needs of veteran students at "military friendly" institutions? The results of this study are derived from empirical data of more than 1900 institutions that have self-identified as "military friendly" by enrolling in the Servicemembers Opportunity College program (SOC). The results of this study are derived from empirical data of more than 1900 institutions that have self-identified as "military friendly" by enrolling in the Servicemembers Opportunity College program. The researchers transformed the empirical data into categorical data based on the common organizational structural variables of department, level, and specialization. The results of the data analysis reveal that American colleges and universities vary greatly in terms of how they address veteran students (via their organizational framework) among the three categorical variables of department, level, and specialization. A review of the literature reveals few quantitative studies with regard to veteran students' transition to college. Recent research efforts have utilized small sample sizes and have relied on survey data. The lack of quantitative research efforts coupled with the limited sample sizes of recent studies leaves a gap in the literature that this study fills with the use of a large, comprehensive, and empirical data set. A discussion of how the divergent structures observed in the data may affect the behaviors of both the college employees and the veteran students is provided. Theories from three major fields (organizational structure, veterans, and student persistence) are intertwined to analyze the findings, providing a unique contribution to the literature.

Keywords: Structural Contingency Theory, Veteran Students, Isomorphic Change, Higher Education, Student Persistence, Servicemembers Opportunity College

ABSTRACT

Introduction

The draw-down of troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with the new and revised G.l. Bill, have lead to an influx of veteran students into higher education (Coll, Oh, Joyce, & Coll, 2009). Although the enrollment of veteran students in college has nearly doubled in the past three years (Sander, 2012), many of these students still face particular challenges such as feelings of isolation on campus and confusion over their benefits (Fusch, 2012) and the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) reported that veteran students received lower levels of institutional support than nonveterans (as reported in Lang & Powers, 2011). Some colleges have recently increased the programs and services offered to serve the veteran student but they often still lack the skills necessary to help these students transition to campus life (McBain, Kim, Cook, & Snead, 2012).

Because enrollment management structures are often created as a response to a change in the environment (Black, 2004) and because organizations tend to model their structures after similar organizations within their field (i.e., a mimetic process) (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) one could argue that colleges and universities should have similar organizational structures with regard to how they address the "veteran student problem."

This is the first study to utilize a database of more than 1900 institutions that have selfidentified as "military friendly" by enrolling in the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) program. Organizational theories provide for a basis of discussion and analysis with regard to how colleges and universities match function (service) with form (structure) for veteran students. Theories of student persistence provide for a discussion of the findings as well as recommended design elements to be considered by institutions of higher education when creating/restructuring organizational support services for veteran students.

Theoretical Framework

This study is grounded in positivist theories of organizational design, which argue a predictable relationship exists between organizational contingencies and organizational structure and behaviors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.