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Employee perceptions of collaborative leadership/management in higher education institutions

Keith A Butler, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this concurrent nested mixed methods study was to measure specific collaborative leadership/management supervisory behaviors in existence in selected departments at several U.S. higher education institutions as perceived by organizational members. Measures of collaborative leadership/management were compared by employee type at each institution (staff and administration), between and among departments/divisions at institutions, and between employee types and departments/divisions at different higher education institutions. Collaboration as researched in this study consisted of three main components: strong communication (vertically in both directions as well as horizontally), open access to quality information necessary for decision-making processes, and distribution of responsibility for decision-making to lower levels of the administrative hierarchy. A modified version of the Survey of Organizations (Taylor & Bowers, 1972) was utilized to measure collaboration, and the survey instrument was distributed electronically to employees in two selected departments/divisions at each of three higher education institutions with an overall response rate of 30.7% (N = 170). Findings included qualitative, quantitative and departmental/divisional results. The main quantitative results were: (1) that collaborative leadership/management behaviors were in existence at the research sites, and similarities between staff and administrative employees, as well as between departments and higher education institutions, outweighed comparative differences; and (2) through exploratory factor analysis two superfactors were developed, Supervisor Interaction/Communication and Peer Interaction. The main qualitative result was an elaboration of the theory of collaboration finding Communication, along with the subcategories of Meetings, Formal/Informal Communication and Input, is a moderating factor for collaboration. Departmental/Divisional descriptive data yielded mostly similarities as well, in that little history of CL/M efforts was in existence. Future research directions including comparisons with corporate environments are suggested.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Butler, Keith A, "Employee perceptions of collaborative leadership/management in higher education institutions" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3255221.