Administrative decision-making styles in higher education

Janet Formicola Cobelli, Fordham University


Purpose. Higher education has entered a period of limited growth that is projected to extend into the 1990's. Post-secondary institutions in the next decade will have to discover how to optimize the quality of whatever they do. Decisions made within this framework, then, will have a greater importance for and impact on the future of the institution. Several research questions were addressed in this study: Did administrators in higher education make decisions in the same ways? Did an administrator's power or status within the university affect her/his part in the decision process? Were personality variables significant in the university decision-making process? Did organizational structure and size affect the decisions made by administrators in academia? And, finally, did the gender of the administrator in academia affect the decisions the individual made? Discussion. Decision making is one of the most critical activities in which administrators engage, and is constrained by a variety of organizational and human factors: organizational structure, size, power coalitions, organizational hierarchy, and risk-taking behavior, gender, and personality traits. Method. The data for this study were collected during interviews with administrators in four-year colleges and universities in metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. These administrators were categorized as follows: presidents, academic deans, deans of students, financial aid officers, deans of admissions, and department chairs. Conclusions. There were several major findings of this study. (1) Organizational structure and size determined the way administrators made decisions. (2) The power or status of the administrator affected her/his part in the decision process. (3) It was not possible to determine the administrators' self-concepts or risk-taking behavior from the interviews. (4) The gender of the administrator affected the way administrators in higher education made decisions. (5) And finally, the administrators interviewed made decisions in the same ways.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Cobelli, Janet Formicola, "Administrative decision-making styles in higher education" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8918440.