Date of Award

Spring 1986

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Martin, Thomas

Second Advisor

Ivanoff, John

Third Advisor

Steeves, Frank


As American colleges and universities become more organizationally complex, a better understanding of the dynamics of those involved in this process becomes a necessity. One very important component of this increased organizational complexity is institutional differentiation; that is, the difference between the bureaucratic and professional hierarchies of the organization. In order to successfully move this dual authority structure toward a common organizational goal, some type of coordination link must operate between the two hierarchical authority structures. That link in an institution of higher education is the academic dean. The purpose of this study was to look at the interrelationship of the level of institutional differentiation of a cross-section of American colleges and universities and three aspects of the dynamics of the academic dean: (a) self-perceived conflict in decision making, (b) use of power base and (c) leadership style. To gather the data needed to accomplish this purpose, a four part questionnaire was sent to 274 academic deans representing a cross-section of American institutions of higher education offering either a four-year liberal arts program as its main thrust or having a separate college, school, or division within the institution offering such a program. An analysis of the data collected resulted. in the following findings. There appears to be a tenable significant statistical relationship between the level of institutional differentiation and the variables of the academic dean's use of legitimate power base, reward power base, self-perceived conflict in decision making and leadership style. Secondly, there appears to be a changing demographic profile of the work of today's academic dean as compared with the work of an academic dean of ten years ago. Third, there appears to be increased evidence of the viability of using the typology schema developed by Harvard sociologists Talcott Parsons and Gerald Platt in distinguishing among colleges and universities on a basis of institutional differentiation for further research in higher education.



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