If you work at a college or university and want to understand your professional environment, Bergquist and Pawlak's book may help. They propose that the university comprises several interacting cultures. These cultures define reality for faculty and administrators, and govern their roles, attitudes and behaviors in their engagements with one another. The six cultures, with some key concepts related to each one, are:
Collegial culture: faculty autonomy, decision-making and change by way of faculty committees, faculty-controlled governance; Managerial culture: specification of educational outcomes, efficient teaching and management of instruction, established criteria for judging performance; Developmental culture: faculty learning and professional development, organizational change and development, classroom research; Advocacy culture: equitable means for the distribution of resources, formal structure and procedures, collective bargaining; Virtual culture: online education and communication, use of technology, electronic media; Tangible culture: rootedness, physical facility, class attendance.
Some of the cultures tend to be complementary. For example, a managerial culture meshes well with measures toward professional and organizational development. Others tend to be in conflict, such as when a managerially-inspired effort to introduce institution-wide assessment and evaluation measures runs up against the desire for autonomy characteristic of the collegial culture. Being aware of 'where people are coming from,' that is, which of the cultures they are enacting, can be of great help to institutional leaders in understanding how to effect change. Bergquist and Pawlak's conclusion is that each of the cultures has its place, and that an attempt by one culture to annihilate another would be misguided. They encourage finding the strengths in each of the cultures and living within the creative tension that their juxtaposition in the institution brings.
While there isn't much to act on in the book, it does give much food for thought. In particular, it became clear as I read that many of us belong to several or all of the cultures simultaneously, and need to draw on their strengths as the need arises. In reference to the advocacy culture's relationship with the managerial culture, Bergquist and Pawlak cite Birnbaum: "Faculty involvement in shared governance may slow down the decision-making process, but it also assures more thorough discussion and provides the institution with a sense of order and stability" (p. 119). Yes, I want to see the institution develop, and for it to have systems and procedures in place that can create efficiency. At the same time, I can recognize that the institution's strength lies in having faculty that bring their unique experiences, approaches, and voices to the classroom and to institutional governance. The point, as Bergquist and Pawlak argue, is to find the strength in each approach rather than trying to make one approach dominate.
The book is an easy read and not too long, and is sure to provoke reflection and insight for those seeking an understanding of the higher education workplace. I recommend it to faculty and administrators.
Loved this book on the cultures of administration in higher education. Very interesting! I had to read this for a graduate level course and I though it was one of the more interesting books I read for my master's. Very applicable and challenges you to think about the culture at your own institution. LOVED!