Die organisatoriese werking van Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite : 'n teoretiese en empiriese ondersoek na doelwitformulering, organisasiestruktuur en interne koördinasie by sekere Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite / Simon Geertsema

Doctoral thesis OPEN
Geertsema, Simon (1981)
  • Subject: Universiteite en kolleges | Administrasie | Suid-Afrika

The Aim of the Study - The study aims at describing the organizational functioning of certain South African Universities, mainly in terms of a) The processes of goal formulation, b) The structure of the universities, as well as the relationships between the main structural components, c) The nature of the communication and control processes in the Universities. By doing this the study could be of use in promoting a better understanding of the university as an organization. The Method of the Study - The first part of the study consist of an investigation of the literature pertaining to: a) The historical development of the university in the western world with particular emphasis on structural aspects. b) The theory of organizations. c) Contemporary studies of universities, mainly in the USA and Great Britain. The second part of the study deals with the results of an empirical investigation at nine South African universities. During visits to these universities interviews were held with sixty-eight individuals. In the final part of the study the results of both the literature study and the interviews were interpreted leading to a model of the organizational functioning of these universities. The Limitations of the Study - a) The study was limited in that only nine of the seventeen universities in South Africa were included in the investigation. This was done to ensure a sample of similar institutions for the study. b) The university can be studied from different perspectives. This study concentrates on the university as an organization, rather than on the perspectives of the university as an institution or as a community. c) The study limits itself to the main structural components of the university, thus avoiding personal or interpersonal aspects. d) The study concentrates on the managerial level of the functioning of the universities avoiding any detailed involvement in aspects of instruction and research. The Historical Development of the University - The mediaeval university was modelled after the mediaeval guilds, and the university thus became an organization controlled by its members, particularly the masters or teachers. The structure of the University of Paris, consisting of four nations and four faculties, was complex, but it is noteworthy that the elected officials of the University had little executive authority and were only elected for short periods at a time. This was not the case in Bologna where the students, and not the teachers, were in control of the university and where the elected officials had more executive authority. The development of colleges at particularly the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge introduced, for the first time, a structure whereby the daily lives of students were controlled by the university. This was probably the first of a series of additional functions that the university took upon itself since the middle ages. These additional functions, including in later centuries. various aspects of research, student services and community services, brought about a greater complexity in the university but it was nevertheless still handled within the basic structural arrangements of the mediaeval universities. The new German universities of the nineteenth century introduced research as an essential function of the university and also introduced active involvement by the government in university affairs. These developments also lead to a more prominent position for the professor as the head of the academic department. The first South African universities grew from colleges that were founded by public groups in the nineteenth century. The first of those colleges came to be governed by a College Council consisting of a majority of lay members, including government representatives. Purely academic matters were delegated to a Senate, consisting of the professors of the College. This structure was eventually adopted by all South African universities. The Theory of Organizations and its application on Universities - The work of the early management thinkers like Fayol, Weber and Taylor lead to the development of a school of thought about management witch came to be known as the classical school. This work has gained widespread acceptance, particularly because of the "management' principles" that it developed. The work of the behaviouralist school challenged the classical school's incomplete view of particularly the human aspects of organizations and thus lead to a more comprehensive view of organizations. During the sixties various systems based approaches to the •Study of organizations were developed. The sociotechnical model, based on the work of Homans and the Tavistock-group, and the decision-based approach of the Carnegie-school formed a basis from which the contingency theory of organizations evolved. The contingency theory provides a useful approach to the study of various organizations, particularly because it recognises the differences that exist between organizations and also because it allows the prediction of such differences. on the basis of the various contingencies faced by organizations. The work of Khandwalla (1977) is a useful compilation of the contingency theory and the propositions of Khandwalla are used to predict the characteristics of South African universities on the basis of a description of these organizations and their environments. Different sets of assumptions and predictions were developed for both the academic activities of the university and the non-academic support functions. These predictions correlated well with the results •of the empirical investigations. Lastly the applicability of the organizations type, the "professional beaurocracy" (Mintzberg, 1979), was also evaluated in relation to these universities. This model correlated well with some aspects but not with all. Models of the University - Beaurocratic and Collegial Models: The two basic models of the university are the beaurocratic and the collegial models. These• models are both incomplete descriptions of South African universities. The beaurocratic model ignores the important decision-making processes in universities and the collegial model ignores the authority of the different formal positions in the university structure. Other Models: Rice (1970) outlines a model of the university largely based on the concept of "process flow". This model reduces the university to a rather mechanical structure, neglecting the many complex interactions that form part of the functioning of universities. Verry and Davies (1976) use an econometric approach to describe the university. This is useful in analyzing aspects such as marginal costs but it is not useful for the purposes of this study Baldridge (1971) developed a "political" model of the university focusing on the processes of negotiating and the role of interest groups. This is a useful model but it places too much emphasis on crisis and conflict situations and too little on the normal functioning of universities. Richman and Farmer (1974) states that universities are mismanaged due to a lack of clear goals and they propose goal formulation as the basis for a proposed system of university management. Cyert (1975) agrees with this reasoning and outlines a process of evaluation based on this approach. Clark (1977) described the university as a federation of groups.-whilst the groups are often run on a collegial basis the coordination between the groups is more often handled on a beaurocratic basis. Cohen and March (1974) found that the university was an "organized anarchy", an organization in which departments and other segments of the organization were almost autonomous. Leadership was very weak and the organization as a whole aimless and purposeless. Two generalized Models: From the foregoing two generalized models of the university were postulated. The first is called the "traditional model" and this model stresses values such as individual autonomy and collegial values. The second model is called the "management model" and it stresses the necessity of clear goals, evaluation of achievement and a •strong role for the university management. The management model is of a normative nature whilst the traditional model is more often found in empirical studies of universities. The Goals of Universities - The nature of an organization is largely determined by the goals of that organization. The model of goal formulation described by Cyert and March (1963) states that goals are not determined only by the management of an organization but that it should rather. be seen as the result of a negotiation process involving numerous persons and groups both inside and outside the organization. Normative goals of the University - Various authors discussed the role of the university and amongst them Newman (1858) is notable for his view that universities should see their main task as the transmission, of culture and the general education of men rather than training for professions. Another view is that universities should see their task firstly as the quest and transmission of knowledge. This emphasis on research has gained widespread acceptance as another basic function of the university. The function of training people, particularly for professions in the community, has always been a part of the task of universities. Particularly from the point of view of the community this is an important task of the university. The task of community service as a secondary function of universities has also been firmly established. It is shown that these views of the university are not necessary complementary and that a clear formulation of aims based on all these various views is difficult to achieve. Commissions of Enquiry into universities in Britain, the USA and South Africa all formulated aims of the university in similar terms, indicating the wide and vague nature of university goals. The Empirical Investigation into goals - The questions asked during the interviews which formed part. of this study were analyzed and it was shown that goals in a university are formulated on different levels. Goals pertaining to the area of research of individual academics were established by individual academics. Goals pertaining to the nature and content of courses were established by academic departments with some control by faculties. The management of the university thus had little direct involvement in the formulation of goals pertaining to the basic university functions. Their role was mostly on the level of the allocation of resources. THE STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS OF SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES - The structure of the universities was reduced to the following seven components: 1. The Council and its committees, 2. The Senate and its committees. 3. The Principals and Vice-Principals. 4. The. Academics. 5. The Administrative Staff. 6. The Students. 7. The Environment of the University. Each of these components were analyzed in the literature and various aspects were also dealt with during the interviews, particularly by establishing the amount of agreement that the respondents had with a list of twenty statements concerning universities. The Council and its committees - It was found that whilst the council had great legal powers in running the university the style of the council, consisting of a majority of lay members, was likely to be reactive. The councils are often informed and guided by those members who are employed by the universities and lay members have limited influence. The Senate and its committees - Many respondents found university senates to be clumsy and ineffective bodies, mainly because they mostly consist of more than 100 members. Various mechanisms have been employed to streamline the functioning of senate but the overall results does not indicate a clear picture. The Principals and Vice-Principals - This component of the university is in a key position, not only because of its roll in both the council and senate but also because of its great influence in the allocation of resources within the University. The authority of the principals and vice-principals is however limited by the large amount of autonomy enjoyed by academics. The style of leadership that is appropriate to this component is that of persuasion and academic leadership rather than that of directing and controlling. The Academics - It is shown that academics can, for many purposes, be regarded as professionals but that there are also basic differences between the traditional professions and the academic’s role in a university. The academic department is the basic component in the university structure. Because it handles both the teaching and research functions without much outside, interference it can be regarded as the essential part of the university structure. The role •of the heads of departments in South African universities follows the British pattern in which the head is in a very strong position relative to the staff and students in his department. The Administrative Staff - The management of the administrative component of the university can either be handled by a committee structure consisting mainly of academics or the administration could be seen as a component that should be managed in a beaurocratic manner. These two styles are often found mixed in South African : universities and this causes tension and leads to frustration and inefficiency. The Students - Despite various efforts to involve students to a larger extent in the decision-making processes of the university the actual role played by students is limited to sporadic inputs in certain areas. The Environment of the University - South African Universities are influenced by a great number of institutions and individuals in the community. This influence is brought to bear on practically all the components of the university. Control Processes at Universities - It is shown that universities are traditionally reluctant to introduce effective control processes, including evaluation and corrective procedures, in respect of academic activities. The empirical study indicated that whilst most respondents were agreeable to the basic principles of control processes most of them also had serious reservations to the practical implications of the introduction of such measures. Organizations such as universities are also ill equipped to adopt themselves to changes in the demands made on them. Rather than making basic changes in the organizational structure new demands are normally met by establishing new organizational units to handle these new responsibilities. Conclusion. When evaluating the results of the study against the "traditional" and "management" models of the university it was found that both the theoretical predictions and the empirical investigation strongly supported the traditional model of the university as the applicable one to South African universities. The limited role of council, the large amount of freedom that academics enjoy in teaching and research, the subordinate role of administrative staff and the virtual absence of control processes all support this view. The very active and influential role of the principals and vice-principals in the management of the university and the importance of the environment to the university does however indicate that important aspects of the management model are also present in the universities. Thesis (DBA)--PU vir CHO, 1982
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