The article Organizational Theory by Adrianna Kezar (2011) looks at one of the most important frameworks for student affairs professional’s organizational theory, which is essential in understanding their roles within the student affairs realm. One thing that stood out to me was how Kezar (2011) didn’t just simply outline four of the major organizational theories but provided a theory to practice example. Kezar (2011) decided to use the initiative of building learning communities on campus because it is a task that many campuses today are trying to accomplish.
I also found the section on the dark side of organizations to be very interesting because I feel in order to be successful with change you need to not hide the less attractive aspects of organizations. Kezar (2011) mentioned how Morgan (1997) pointed out that organizations don’t have things such as oppression as their goals but instead “these are the unintended consequences of trying to meet such objectives as increased profits or surviving in hard times” (p. 238). But successful leaders on campuses across the U. S. ill use skills outlined in the four frames to start a dialogue about solutions to these problems that are often swept under the rug. Something that I really connected with in tis reading was when Kezar (2011) was describing the human resource or collegial institutions frame in regards to Birnbaums four frames in higher education. She mentioned how the collegial campus might even be a “particular subsystem, such as the student affairs division” (Kezar, 2011, p. 233) which I think was evident at my undergraduate institution.
All workers in the division ranging from the VP of Student Affairs to the student workers had great respect and admiration for another. The sense of a truly shared space and decision making process specifically stood out to me in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. There was a sense of culture and traditions within the office that helped fuel the office in accomplishing goals especially when times got tiresome like they often do in offices with such high programming. A consensus across the office, shared power and common commitments and aspirations were important in the running of the office (Kezar, 2011, p. 33). Roper and Matheis (2011) explore how campuses attract students, faculty, and staff who represent diversity which can then make conflict and controversy inevitable in their article entitled Conflict Resolution. College campuses invite diversity of “opinions, lifestyles, worldviews, values, personal expressions, and beliefs” (Roper & Matheis, 2011, 433) which are essential to their subsistence. Effective communication is needed for individuals to express themselves effectively and to have a greater understanding for one another.
Roper and Matheis (2011) discuss how often we as a society we do not embrace conflict as a learning opportunity and chance for change. When conflict or controversial issues come to the surface we create “opportunities to air important issues, produce new thinking and express creative ideas and ease tension” (Roper & Matheis, 2011, p. 434). The restorative justice model that Roper and Matheis (2011) summarize in this article was something I felt I could relate to. With my leaderships role in a Christian organization called Intervarsity Christian fellowship I learned a lot about restorative justice.
As Christians we truly believed that all people deserve to be treated like humans and to receive healing. This is very different from most models of justice that typically view offenders “ as inherently flawed and beyond repair” (roper & Matheis, 2011, p. 439). As a member of the LGBT community this really affected how I reacted to a hate crime against me my sophomore year. Instead of pressing charges on the student for the hateful words they said to me I decided I would rather they eat a meal with me in a dining commons.
Many of my peers and members of the community were perplexed by this but I wanted the student to learn who I truly was. Getting him expelled which then would inevitably affect him for the rest of his life I took a chance to turn his ignorance that was not entirely his fault into an educational moment. In Responding To Campus Climate authors Miser and Cherrey (2009) discuss the importance of student affairs professionals to have the skills to effectively manage crisis for it is nearly impossible to work for any period of time without working through a campus crisis.
Miser and Cherrey (2009) cite Harper, Paterson, and Zdziarski’s (2006) definition of crisis as “an event, which is ften sudden or unexpected, that disrupts the normal operatons of the intstituion or its educational mission and threatens the well-being of its personnel, property, finciail resource and/or reputation of the insitition” (p. 603). Tragic events such as deaths of students, alcohol poisoning, shootings, and even social protests leave a lasting impression altering many lives in the campus community (Miser & Cherrey, 2009, p. 602).
These crises can then be identified into different typologies of crisis proposed by researchers which are human, facility, and environmental crisis as well as scaled by the level of crisis being critical incident, campus emergency, or disaster. (Miser & Cherrey, 2009, p. 604). This chapter reminded me of the active shooter trainings that are taught at many college campuses. These trainings offer a way to broadcast the campus plan that was developed to respond to an active shooter as well as provide a time for students to practice in preparation in case the crisis ever becomes a reality.
At my undergraduate institution these trainings were often part of Residence Assistant (RA) programming throughout the semester because the Office of residence Life and housing saw a responsibility as campus leaders in keeping their students safe. Understanding Change by Michael Fullen (2004) discusses how there is no “answer” to change but rather it can be led and leadership makes a difference in this process. Fullen’s (2004) goal is to “develop a mind-set and action set that are constantly cultivated and refined” (p. 456).
An important point made by Fullen (2004) is that the organization that takes on the most innovations is not the winner because more often then not they lack depth and coherence because they spread themselves thin. In addition, a leader can have great ideas but if their employee’s or constituencies don’t buy into them they are a waste and often it creates more opposition. Fullen cites Goleman (2000) who identified six leadership styles and concluded that “leaders who have mastered four or more-especially the authoritative, democratic, affiliative, and coaching styles-have the best climate and business performance” (p. 58). Something that really stuck out to me in this article was the discussion of effective leaders having a balance of sensitivity to implementation of change. I would agree in saying that leaders need to not panic when change is in its initial period because change is a process as well as be empathetic to peoples worries and stress during the work. I think this is something that I am experiencing now within Campus Activities and Student engagement where I currently hold a GA in on campus.
Our administrative assistant retired a month into this semester after her 30 years of dedication to the institution. This was a tough time for the transition because our office just replaced all positions aside from our director. Many of us aren’t familiar with how to carry out the tasks and responsibilities that previously fell under our admin. In the beginning my colleagues and I were not sure how we would survive especially when a wave of heavy programming was about to be upon us.
But our director EJ roach was able to keep this balance of sensitivity through initiatives such as having conversation during our weekly staff meetings about what hiccups did we experience this week and how can we work as a team to avoid them. Critique I found it interesting when Kezar (2011) was mentioning the importance of breaking down barriers between academic and student affairs and suggested that “student affairs administrators often hold stereotypes of faculty members as eccentric and disruptive individuals who are unable to function as part of the community” (p. 240).
Not only did this come to a surprise to me because I felt that the major stereotype against faculty was their unwillingness to collaborate, but it did not speak about the stereotypes against student affairs administrators form faculty. I just felt that the whole section was talking about both sides to respect one another as equals yet Kezar (2011) didn’t even do so. Miser and Cherrey (2009) discuss some of the common types of conflicts that arise on college campuses in the beginning of the article, but I would have liked to see them carried out more throughout the reading.
It would have been helpful as a reader especially in a section like the management of crisis work to see some of the suggestions and frameworks connected to specific crisis to have a better understanding of application. Missing Information In Roper and Matheis (2011) there is a case study to provide a way for readers to bring theory to practice. This practical examination of conflict resolution was very helpful for myself in processing everything I just learned in the chapter. The questions for consideration were very helpful in guiding the process but I wish the authors provided possible solutions to the conflict at hand.
Although they did state that “details on resolution on this issue can be found in Roper, 2004” (roper & Matheis, 2011, p. 446) I still wish that they provided at least a quick summary of the resolutions to avoid the time it would take to locate the literature and find the specific reference. Questions Kezar Using the human resource frame in which ways do you find your department your graduate assistantship resides in provides leadership, brings out the best in each other, and rewards individuals efforts? Miser & Cherrey
Using the 3 typologies of crisis and the scales provided in the article rate a crisis that your undergraduate institution faced while you were a student. If there was no crisis find an example in the news. Fullen Reflect on a time when you experienced a big change either at work or in college. What were some of the feelings that rushed over you and did these change with time? Roper & Matheis What characteristics or skills do you think are helpful for a mediator to hold when organizing and leading a conflict mediation?