Values, assumptions, and actions in an administrative team : a symbolic analysis of the expression of culture in one community college setting Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/nk322g92c

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  • Organizational culture is broadly recognized as a significant force in organizational action. Since the phenomenon of culture has real impact on organizations, our understanding of that impact is vital to organizational health. While academic settings provide a rich environment for studying culture, relatively little research on culture has occurred in this setting. This interpretive study contributes to our understanding of the administrative subculture in higher education by examining cultural influences at work within a community college administrative team. The framework of organizational symbolism influenced the overall research goal of interpreting cultural themes found in a community college administrative team and exploring how these themes were expressed in organizational action. Organizational culture was conceptualized as having three levels of manifestation: symbols of culture, organizational values, and basic assumptions about reality. Research questions were developed with the aim of examining each of these cultural levels within the executive administrative team at Northwest Community College and addressing the belief that administrative team actions and decisions are an expression of the common values and assumptions held by team members. This study integrated field observation with interviews and document review to uncover the values, assumptions, and actions of administrative team members. Cultural windows used to focus observations and interviews included (a) organizational stories, (b) organizational heroes, (c) organizational symbols, and (d) organizational traditions. The following cultural themes were evident within the executive administrative team at Northwest Community College: community, change and innovation, fairness, candor, hard work, learning and development, humor, teamwork, delegation and shared decision-making, and customer responsiveness and recognition of others. These themes were expressed in numerous team actions. Symbols reinforcing each cultural theme were active within the organization. These symbols included artifacts, traditions, and prominent actions taken by the team. The executive administrative team's primary role within the organization was to influence organizational decisions and modify organizational involvement regarding decision-making. Key historical figures or events appear to have played a role in developing some cultural themes through strengthening existing values or creating new, contrasting values. Paradoxical value sets were found within three cultural themes: hard work (balancing workload), teamwork (separateness), and delegation and shared decision-making (direct involvement).
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