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The Danger of Deference: A Case of Polite Governance

by James T. Minor & William G. Tierney - 2005

Over the past decade numerous arguments have been put forth that campus governance needs to be reformed to meet new challenges. Rethinking admission standards, implementing distance learning, increasing fund-raising, diversifying the faculty, and creating external partnerships are just a few issues that demand timely and informed decisions. For some individuals, these topics create decision-making contexts that stand in contradiction to the tradition of shared governance. To others, shared governance becomes an obstacle to effective decision-making rather than its vehicle. This study explores a campus where the perception is that "governance works." The university enjoys a stable organizational history, climate, and administration that are circumscribed by what we will define as a culture of deference. The institution, however, does not appear to struggle over questions of quality such as how they might improve and what actions might create these improvements. The authors question whether a decision-making culture of deference promotes effective campus governance. The text begins with a discussion of what the authors mean by effective governance within an organization's culture and they then present data from an intensive case study of one campus. The authors conclude that cooperation and trust are foundational but insufficient indicators of good governance.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 1, 2005, p. 137-156
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11692, Date Accessed: 4/3/2020 11:48:01 PM

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