Attitudes Toward Competition in Higher Education As Expressed by Faculty Members in American Academia
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Higher education as a social institution operates on the border of traditional, intellectually oriented values and a modern, economically determined style of life. Competition in higher education is an existing fact, yet not much is known about the nature of this process. Advocated and even promoted by the formal reward structure of many organizations of higher learning , competition is also blamed for devaluing the best humanistic and cultural values, which should be protected by academia. This creates the problem of a status of competition in the American system of higher education. This study was designed to investigate the meaning of and attitudes toward competition as expressed by different groups of scholars, as well as a relationship between academic performance, satisfaction, and attitudes toward competition. A questionnaire was distributed to 723 randomly selected faculty members. After inspection of the responses, 155 questionnaires were qualified for further analysis. The obtained data were analysed in three ways with the use of two statistical packages, SPSSX and BMDP: (1) factor analysis (image- factoring technique) of semantic differential scales for the meaning of six concepts related to competition in higher education (SPSSX) , (2) multiple analysis of variance with repeated measures for the attitudes toward competition in higher education (BMDP), and (3) partial correlation analysis of the relationship of performance-satisfaction-attitudes toward competition (SPSSX). Results were presented in three respective groups. Factor analysis of meaning did not reveal a typical EVALUATIVE, POTENCY and ACTIVITY factors (EPA structure) for every tested concept. Three concepts, competition in higher education , professional control and administrative evaluation, exhibited EPA structure, but the remaining three concepts, rewards in academia, tenure, and desire to succeed, produced. only two nontrivial factors. Academic affiliation was most strongly connected with potential differences in perception about competition on an EVALUATIVE dimension . Respondents who completed their graduate work in highly competitive schools and those currently employed in prestigious academic institutions hold more positive attitudes toward competition than their colleagues from less prestigious schools. A level of involvement in faculty governance and tenure, were the strongest single predictors of ones attitudes toward competition. Also, a formal status (marked by tenure and academic) rank rather than an age, was found to modify the perception about competition. A simple correlation analysis confirmed that highly productive scientists were not necessarily the most satisfied ones. The lack of any significant correlation between performance and satisfaction after controlling for an effect of attitudes toward competition indicated that the performance-satisfaction relationship was affected by attitudes/expectations about competition...