A Qualitative Assessment of the Meaning of Shared Governance At a Parochial University
Shared governance is a treasured tradition of academe. Problems of administrative practice arise when meanings and definitions of shared governance are undefined and implicit rather than defined and explicit. What are the meanings and definitions of shared governance when several governance models are considered and how does shared governance operate? In this study, themes of governance models (bureaucratic, political, collegial, ambiguity, cultural and corporative) and trust (benevolence, competence, reliability, and transparency) were used to provide a framework for a study at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland, a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education. A basic qualitative interpretive approach was used. The practical significance of the research was that definitions and meanings of shared governance and its varieties of expression led to preferred models of acceptable practice. If leaders are able to map the campus structure of shared governance, then they may be better able to arrive at decisions with minimal negative conflict. Shared governance can no longer be undefined and implicit, but more defined and explicit when each participant stakeholder understands the governance philosophy and accepted practices of the other. Shared governance was found to operate through over-arching themes of situational shared governance and transparency within the context of a social systems environment of shared governance and trust. This research began with a question as to the meaning of shared governance. It ends with a larger question about the true nature of Seventh-day Adventist higher education institutions and other parochial institutions. However, the research illuminates much more. If the institution is academic, then shared governance will flourish; if it is not, then market-driven, corporative, non-input and handed-down decisions will be the order of the day.
Full text available online through ProQuest Digital Dissertations. Completed through Northeastern University.
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