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Title:The internal conflict experienced by public community college academic department chairs
Author(s):Johnson, Raymonda T.
Director of Research:Bragg, Debra D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bragg, Debra D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, James D.; Shields, Carolyn M.; Cain, Timothy R.; Lesht, Faye L.
Department / Program:Ed Organization and Leadership
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ed.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):department chair
internal conflict
role conflict
community college leadership
Abstract:The focus of this research is the conflicted nature of the lived experience of public community college academic department chairs. In many colleges, department chairs are faculty chosen by colleagues and/or administration. Once selected, chairs assume supervisory responsibilities. The duality of this colleague-supervisor role has the potential for internal conflict. Also, in fulfilling responsibilities to departmental faculty, administration, staff, students, and the wider community, chairs have increased likelihood of experiencing internal conflict. This study explored the essence of department chair internal conflict, also its manifestations, chair tasks that generate it, and how chairs perceive and describe themselves. This qualitative study used the methodology of phenomenological human science inquiry. Through analysis of organizational plans of Illinois public community colleges, department chairs representing the phenomenon of being faculty-colleagues elevated to the chair role were identified. Six participants were selected from four colleges. Data gathered from the six participants through a series of four topical-guided one-on-one in-person interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. Data interpretation followed the procedures of phenomenological human science inquiry blended with qualitative interview analysis. Results confirmed that one of the effects on chairs of their being chairs is the experience of internal conflict, which can emerge during the process of living the chair role. Internal conflict for chairs was determined to be the clash of daily tasks and requirements against the goals and intentions of chairs for themselves and their departments; and the essence of this internal conflict was found to be the chairs’ lack of decision power and authority to control resources that would make it possible for them to fulfill their responsibilities according to their standards. The study also uncovered themes of the chair lived experience, descriptions of tasks that generate internal conflict for chairs, behaviors by which chairs reveal the presence of internal conflict and attempt to cope with it, and chairs’ perceptions and descriptions of themselves. The study concludes that it is not likely that all internal conflict for chairs can be or should be eliminated, and it discusses implications for modifying the chair experience to reduce the negative effect of internal conflict. This research contributes to the field of higher education by deepening researchers’, practitioners’, and policy makers’ understandings of department chairs’ lived experience. Resulting information will be useful to higher education administrators, to prospective or aspiring chairs contemplating the personal cost of chairmanship, to training planners aiming to equip neophyte chairs, and as comforting encouragement to distressed chairs struggling to understand and resolve daily internal conflicts.
Issue Date:2011-01-14
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/18364
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Raymonda T. Johnson
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-14
Date Deposited:December 2


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