Values Gaps among Faculty and Administrators

By Totten, Jeff; Desiderato, Laurie et al. | Academic Exchange Quarterly, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Values Gaps among Faculty and Administrators


Totten, Jeff, Desiderato, Laurie, Ley, Robert, Meisenheimer, Marilyn, Academic Exchange Quarterly


Abstract

Undergraduate faculty and administrators were surveyed regarding their perceived academic values, using an adaptation of the SERVQUAL Scale. Gap analysis results on differences in ideal versus university values are reported for both groups.

Introduction

The Values Project evolved out of conversations among researchers who came together to discuss the role of academic values in shaping their institution's identity and performance. They explored academic values in order to clarify institutional priorities and pinpoint areas where improvement was needed. An institution's higher educational values were conceptualized as implicit standards and expectations about higher education that influenced the decisions of educators and administrators. In order to better understand the concept of values, research efforts in the disciplines of business administration and education were reviewed. Faculty and administrator values were then measured with questionnaires that were designed from focus groups and the literature review.

Literature Review

Business literature provided insight into organizational values, as educational institutions are organizations. Organizational values have been defined as "the means and ends that matter most to organizations" that "play an important guiding and directing role in the functioning of the organization" (Dobni, Ritchie, and Zerbe, 2000, pp. 91-92). They "provide a common language for aligning a company's leadership and its people" (Rubino, 1998, p. 24).

Within an organization, managers and employees will invariably encounter conflicts between personal and organizational values (Anderson 1998, Rubino 1998). In knowledge-based organizations (such as higher education institutions), Burdett argued that personal values will dominate, since "the investment in learning is extremely high. The talent pool demanded to fuel the growth and survival of such enterprises is, of necessity, marketed by intellectual independence and a demand for high quality of life." (Burdett, 1998, p. 41).

A number of issues were found in the education literature related to academic values. Browder (1997) identified two major ideological views: the traditional view of teaching as the pursuit of truth and knowledge versus the postmodern view of teaching as a means to social transformation. Connected to this struggle is the related issue of whether or not students should be viewed as consumers. If so, adopting a business and customer satisfaction viewpoint for the university setting is arguably appropriate (Athiyaman, 1997, Finn, 1997, and Wambsganss & Kennett, 1995). However, Bay and Daniel provided strong arguments against viewing students as customers, including: professors often have a better understanding of what a quality education is than do students; focusing too much on keeping students happy results in institutions ignoring the needs of other stakeholders; and "empowering" students as customers may result in shifts of responsibility for learning from student to institution and power from professors to students (Bay and Daniel, 2001, pp. 3-7).

Universities face greater pressures today, coming "under fire from legislators, private industry, the media and the general public to describe the positive outcomes of a university education and to monitor those outcomes" (Browne, et al., 1998, p. 2). Given this conflict, one may ask whether higher education institutions must cater to students as consumers or should remind students that they are also products. Or, if Guolla (1999) is correct, we must consider the possibility that our students play at least four roles: customers, clients, producers, and products.

Most of prior research examined the perspective of students, both undergraduate and graduate, through teaching evaluations and other measures. Alexitch and Page (1997) identified three purposes for universities as seen by faculty: to impart knowledge and new ideas, to develop critical-thinking skills, and to promote personal growth (1997, p. …

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