The Political Dimensions of Decision Making

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Summary of Chapter 10 Prepared by: Joshua Adams EDHE 6730, Fall 2008

 ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Bolman and Deal (1984) identified 4 major theoretical frameworks: Rational Human Resource Political Symbolic  According to author, political model is most useful to student affairs professionals

 ◦ ◦ Political Model Institutions are constantly changing coalitions and subgroups Assumes power of members will determine outcome

 ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ French & Raven (1959) identify 5 power bases people use: Coercive  Ability to punish (dismissal, demotion) Reward  Ability to give something of value (raise, promotion) Expertise  Having specialized knowledge about a subject Referent  Having affiliation with someone else in power (president’s chief of staff) Legitimate  Authority of individuals in charge

 ◦ Elements that contribute to political environments: Goal Diffusion   Different goals may exist that will lead to different expectations among members Can contribute to power struggles among staff ◦  Uncertainty of Means or Technologies If goals differ there may be differences in where to allocate resources of the institution

 ◦ Elements that contribute to political environments continued: Dual Control   Many individuals hold control over certain aspects of the institution This can lead to confusion about decision making ◦   Structural Uniqueness Overlap and complexity often exist This can lead to different opinions and interests within the institution

 ◦ Elements that contribute to political environments continued: Organizational Culture   How an institution has developed over the years How an institution responds to different situations ◦   Limits on Leadership Decentralization of services makes limits more problematic All of the other elements contribute to strain on leadership within the institution

 ◦ Suggestions for daily office work in a political environment: Become friends with the boss   Develop a relationship based on mutual respect This individual can then become an ally in a time of need ◦   Understand your role Be clear about your expectations Be clear about your expectations of those around you

 ◦ Suggestions for daily office work in a political environment: Know the issues of the institution   Educate yourself on the current institutional issues Provide guidance for others on this issue ◦   Become competent in your field of work Attend continuing education for your specific area Have a goal of becoming an expert in your area

 ◦ Suggestions for daily office work in a political environment: Remain visible on campus  Aim to strike a balance between being visible and overexposed on campus ◦  Develop relationships with members of the institution Coalition building is important in a time of need

 ◦ Suggestions for daily office work in a political environment: Understand your time constraints  Try not to make “politics” the central focus of the job ◦   Learn how to manage conflicts Conflicts are inevitable Develop coalitions as well as personal competence in order to better deal with conflict

 ◦ Suggestions for daily office work in a political environment: Pick your battles  Only fight the battles you feel you can win ◦   Be consistent Integrity is hard to build if you are not consistent in your policies or actions Remain ethical at all times

 ◦ Staff Education Educating your staff to sensitive issues throughout the institution is imperative  ◦ ◦ ◦ Faculty A broad approach to working with faculty is necessary for all involved with student affairs Student affairs should utilize faculty members where appropriate during the planning phases Strong relationships with faculty should be encouraged

  ◦ ◦ Communication Consistent communication throughout the organization is key Ideas include: newsletters, bulletin boards, emails, personal visits ◦ ◦ Ethical Considerations An ethical approach to all situations should be sought Resources are available for student affairs practitioners

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