Social & Education Policy

Who staffs the US leaning tower? Organisational change and diversity

Leicht, K.T.; Fennell, M.L.
2008

Abstract

Purpose – The paper aims to argue that US colleges and universities resemble a “leaning tower” with ever expanding layers of administrators and managers who control and dominate university life. This set of institutional changes has altered the way that college administrators are recruited.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses recent developments in institutional theories of organisations to explain the changing environment facing US colleges and universities and the role that college administrators play in this environment. The paper matches data from a sample of administrative positions advertised in the 2004-2005 Careers section of the Chronicle of Higher Education with web-based data on incumbents subsequently hired for each position. These data are supplemented with aggregate statistics provided by the Chronicle and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Findings – Results suggest that only a small number of administrative positions advertised involve academic appointments with tenure and that the educational qualifications advertised span a surprisingly wide spectrum of credentials other than academic PhD's. Ethnically underrepresented groups and women are most likely to hold jobs requiring PhD's while whites and men occupy most of the positions where qualifications are ambiguous or classic academic qualifications are not called for.

Originality/value – The paper is the first to discuss the growing distinctive labour market for college administrators while providing preliminary data on the diversity effects of this labour market.

Citation

Leicht KT, Fennell ML. Who staffs the US leaning tower? Organisational change and diversity. 2008;27(1):88 - 106. doi:10.1108/02610150810844965.