Autonomy and adaptation among senior unit-level leaders in public business schools
La Cola, Christine Lomer
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Organizational work roles and structures of public universities are increasingly being studied for their effectiveness and support of the overall organization mission. This thesis examines senior unit-level leaders, and their associated levels of autonomy, within schools of business in public universities. Two school settings were studied through a review of their available marketing materials and industry association data, leading MBA media surveys and in-depth interviews with the senior unit-level leaders. This investigation of factors that affect decision-making, work control, reporting structures, and personal motivation suggests that an understanding of the context and internal and external environments is paramount to determining effectiveness. The study also finds that there are unique differences in autonomy between three work statuses of senior unit-level leaders: faculty, administrators and faculty administrators. These work roles are not necessarily assigned discrete levels of autonomy, rather their incumbents adapt and shape their influence and work control through and because of their work status. Academic freedom and shared academic governance, in terms of autonomy, are also examined.