Journal of Nursing Education

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Faculty and Administrator Perceptions of Decision Making

Abstract

ABSTRACT

This research study was conducted in associate and baccalaureate schools of nursing. This research focused on (1) the extent of faculty participation in decision making; (2) a description and analysis of the characteristics of nurse faculty, nurse administrators, and the organizations of associate and baccalaureate schools of nursing; (3) the interrelationships between opportunities for participation in decision making and the level and type of decision making; (4) the relationships between various personal and situational variables that affect decision making, (5) the relationship between the type of involvement in decision making to the variables of job satisfaction, professional commitment, and job tension; and (6) the relationships among the variables of job satisfaction, professional commitment and job tension.

Ninety-three faculty and 10 administrators participated in the research study. Research data were collected by three instruments: the School Information Profile, the Administrative Questionnaire, and the Faculty Questionnaire. The data were subjected to frequency distribution statistics, the RELIABILITY program of SPSS, Pearson correlation coefficients, Canonical correlations, and Multiple Regression analysis. The primary study results were: (1) Faculty reported that their participation in decision making is primarily in the area of making recommendations, not final determinations. (2) Faculty stated that decision making is usually a group process. (3) Administrator perceptions were that faculty possess more decision-making power than faculty believed. (4) Faculty reaffirmed that job satisfaction and professional commitment are positively correlated, and that job tension was found to be negatively correlated to job satisfaction and professional commitment. (5) Faculty stated that they were usually involved in classroom oriented decision-making areas but desire increased faculty involvement in administration and facilities utilization.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

This research study was conducted in associate and baccalaureate schools of nursing. This research focused on (1) the extent of faculty participation in decision making; (2) a description and analysis of the characteristics of nurse faculty, nurse administrators, and the organizations of associate and baccalaureate schools of nursing; (3) the interrelationships between opportunities for participation in decision making and the level and type of decision making; (4) the relationships between various personal and situational variables that affect decision making, (5) the relationship between the type of involvement in decision making to the variables of job satisfaction, professional commitment, and job tension; and (6) the relationships among the variables of job satisfaction, professional commitment and job tension.

Ninety-three faculty and 10 administrators participated in the research study. Research data were collected by three instruments: the School Information Profile, the Administrative Questionnaire, and the Faculty Questionnaire. The data were subjected to frequency distribution statistics, the RELIABILITY program of SPSS, Pearson correlation coefficients, Canonical correlations, and Multiple Regression analysis. The primary study results were: (1) Faculty reported that their participation in decision making is primarily in the area of making recommendations, not final determinations. (2) Faculty stated that decision making is usually a group process. (3) Administrator perceptions were that faculty possess more decision-making power than faculty believed. (4) Faculty reaffirmed that job satisfaction and professional commitment are positively correlated, and that job tension was found to be negatively correlated to job satisfaction and professional commitment. (5) Faculty stated that they were usually involved in classroom oriented decision-making areas but desire increased faculty involvement in administration and facilities utilization.

Concurrent with the expansion of nursing education into the realm of higher education has come larger numbers of nurse faculty and nurse administrators. With thèse increases have come problems relating to the achievement of both the personal and professional objectives of selfesteem and self-fulfillment. Because self-esteem and selffulfillment have been shown to affect employee outcome, and because decision making or its lack can vary the outcomes between personal and organizational goals, this research focused upon the study of nurse faculty and nurse administrators' perceptions of decision making.

Decision making was selected as the focus of study because of the author's personal interest in the process of reviewing, evaluating, and selecting a course of action from a list of options based on the goals of the organizations. Participatory decision making, a mode of organizational operation, was chosen as the focus of this study because faculty are usually persons who execute or are affected by a decision. Job satisfaction, an employee's general attitude toward his or her job, job tension, a job-related anxiety associated with feelings of ignorance, confusion, or powerlessness and professional commitment, the amount of life space which an employer allocates to work and workrelate activities, and identification with the profession were chosen as the variables of interest. The three variables of interest were selected for this study because of their direct relationship to employee behaviors, particularly in school organizations.

The secondary purpose of the research was to analyze the level of decision making and its relationship to the variables of job satisfaction, professional commitment, and job tension among faculty in schools of nursing. The research also measured organizational characteristics of the institutions within which the faculty and administrators resided. Specifically, the faculty characteristics studied were: age, sex, race, experience, time in the school of nursing, rank, tenure status, educational level, and individual need level. Administrator characteristics were: sex, age, race, tenure status, educational level, experience as an administrator, time in the school of nursing, authoritarianism, and belief in personal expertise. Organizational characteristics included the type of school of nursing, faculty size, student body size, and the autonomy or independence of the school of nursing. Questionnaires were sent to 110 nurse faculty and 10 nurse administrators. To facilitate data collection, addressed and stamped envelopes were included for the reply. Follow-up letters were also sent. Eighty-four percent of the nurse faculty and 10 of 11 nurse administrators contacted chose to participate. This study was carried out in the greater metropolitan area of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pilot testing was conducted outside the metropolitan area.

Study data were obtained by the use of two instruments: an Administrator Questionnaire and a Faculty Questionnaire. The Administrator Questionnaire was a brief instrument that was divided into four sections. Part I queried the administrators' perceptions regarding the amount of faculty involvement in decision making and the involvement of a faculty person as an individual, group, or both, in the making of a decision. Part II was a four-item measure of expertise. Part III was a 14-item measure of authoritarianism. Parts II and III were drawn from an authoritarianism measure developed by Tellegen (The Differential Personality Questionnaire, University of Minnesota, 1976). The inventory was designed to discriminate among various personality dimensions. The resulting scales were shown to be "both internally consistent and mutually distinct." Part PV consisted of demographic data.

The Faculty Questionnaire was divided into six sections. Part I consisted of 16 items adapted from the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire. (The Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire is known to be an internally reliable instrument and valid in its measurement.) These scales measured job satisfaction. Part II consisted of items to measure job tension. The job-related index was derived from a tool of Belasco and Alutto (Unpublished & undated survey from the State University of New York at Buffalo). The jobrelated tension index has been previously reported to be a reliable instrument. Part III measured professional commitment. This instrument was adopted from Porter (1963). All items were measured by reliability, a statistical program. The instrument was shown to be internally consistent.

Parts TV and V dealt with faculty participation in decision making. Part IV was formulated to determine the level (from none to making decisions - individual, group, both, or unaware of) and type of faculty participation in 43 decision-making areas that were spread across the entire gamut of educational areas. Among them were decisions regarding: course assignments, curriculum development, disciplinary protocols, tenure, sabbatical or leave policy, and college philosophy development.

Part VI dealt with information regarding the present and desired future state of faculty participation in decision making. Part VI included demographic data. Finally, organizational data included information as to the type of school of nursing, associate degree or baccalaureate, the number of faculty employed by the school of nursing, the size of the nurse student body, and the administrator's perception of the autonomy of the school of nursing. To reiterate, 100% of the data requested of the administrators in the sample including the organizational data were obtained. Eighty-four percent of the faculty questionnaires were returned.

Findings

Administrator Data: Of the 10 administrators in the sample, all were female. On the average, the administrators were 30-39 years of age, held a master's degree and had worked in the schools as administrators ranging from one to more than 12 years in their present position.

Faculty Data: Ninety-three faculty comprised the faculty sample, including 3 males and 90 females, 60 of whom were married, 32 of whom were single, divorced or widowed. One faculty member declined to report marital status. The faculty ranged in age from less than 30 to more than 60 years, held a master's degree, and had 3 to 12 years of teaching experience, three to six of whom had been in their present position. Sixty-eight percent of the faculty possessed Instructor rank, 21% were Assistant Professors, 10% were Associate Professors, and there was one full Professor among the faculty.

Several different findings emerged from the questionnaires. With regard to the three variables of interest, job satisfaction, job tension, and professional commitment, several statistically significant findings emerged, directly relating to employee behavior in school organizations. 1) There is a significant relationship between participation in decision making and job satisfaction. In other words, the greater the amount of decision making power the greater job satisfaction among faculty. 2) There is a significant relationship between participation and professional commitment. 3) There is a significant relationship between the level of faculty involvement in decision making (from none to actual decision making) and job tension.

The less faculty participation in decision making, then, the greater job tension among faculty. Conversely, faculty who are more job satisfied are less job tense. Faculty who are more job satisfied are more professionally committed. Faculty who have more job satisfaction are more professionally committed and participate more in decision making. Faculty who are free to make more decisions are more job satisfied, professionally committed and less job tense. The variables of interest are important, as supported by previous theory and research, to affect the functioning of the organization. Older faculty, with the exception of 30-39 year olds, participate more in decision making.

Several other themes became apparent with regard to participational decision making. They were:

1. Faculty are currently personally involved in decision-making areas that are related to all areas of the school organization. Generally, the top 10 issues fall into the categories of classroom teaching, faculty meetings (setting the agenda and participating in the issues brought forth), and work on departmental philosophy.

2. Most of the top 10 decision-making areas that faculty are personally involved in affect the faculty's execution of their jobs. The top five decision-making areas are: 1) course assignment content, 2) grading, 3) instructional methods, 4) selection of instruction aids and course teaching assignments and, 5) curriculum development.

3. Faculty currently desire involvement in decisionmaking areas that are related to all areas of school organization. The top five desired areas of decision making are: 1) finance or faculty load, 2) new or renovated facilities design or class size or evaluation of superiors, 3) facilities utilization, 4) faculty tenure, and 5) preparation time for teachers (supplied by institution). The remaining top five decisionmaking areas fall into the categories of finance and faculty issues (outside the classroom) such as class composition, selection of college administrators, sabbatical and leave planning, college or university philosophy development, and insurance program planning.

4. Most of the above top 10 desired decision-making areas are areas of decision making that are traditionally not thought to be of crucial interest to faculty.

5. On a continuum ranging from no involvement to actual decision making, faculty perceive that their level of involvement is usually at the step of making recommendations, not making decisions. Even in the decision-making area of grade reporting, theoretically an area of faculty expertise, faculty stated they are free to report the grade they have decided only 65% of the time.

6. Faculty reported that their type of involvement in decision making is a co-effort between group and individual involvement, with group involvement as .the predominant force.

7. Finally, there is a relationship between the level and type of decision making, that is, the less the level of involvement (ranging from non-involvement to actual decision making) the more group type participation occurs. The greater the decision making power available to faculty, the freer persons are to individually express their ideas.

Implications

This study has focused on the relationship among participation and decision making and job attitudes because such a relationship has been implied by previous research (Devlin, 1978), and because participation has been linked to positive employee behaviors. Prospective and practicing administrators should be exposed to research that illustrates the relationship between participatory management and favorable job attitudes.

Nurse administrators can promote job satisfaction and professional commitment and lessen job tension among faculty by allowing a high level of participation in decision making.

In seeking a faculty who are complementary to one another in terms of decision-making interest areas, nurse administrators could utilize a decision-making interest tool as part of the faculty interview process.

Nurses who are seeking faculty positions where job satisfaction is greatest would be wise to note that it appears that older, more educated administrators with more years of experience are the most open to participatory decision making.

To enhance the overall satisfaction of a nurse faculty, nurse administrators should hire a mixture of faculty in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, etc., age groups. Although research indicates those 30-39 years of age with three to six years' experience are the least satisfied with jobs, they nonetheless possess several years of valuable teaching experience.

Interesting to note is that individuals 50 years or above are those whose level of involvement in decision making is greatest. People who are the most involved in the organization have been shown to be the most committed. The most committed persons are those 50 years of age and older.

Two thirds of all nurse faculty are shown to be married women. Because married faculty women are known to be the least job satisfied and the most job tense, it seems judicious for administrators to promote various creative means of improving job satisfaction and professional commitment in schools of nursing. One of these means is participatory decision making. Finally, administrators should learn and utilize techniques of interpersonal and small group communication to enhance the success of participatory decision making.

References

  • Devlin, B.S. Thacher participation and decision making and its relationship to the variables: job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job tension, and attitudinal militancy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Minnesota.
  • Porter, L. W. (1963) Job attitudes in management: perceived importance of needs as a function of job level. Journal of Applied Psychology, 47 (2), 141-148.

10.3928/0148-4834-19841001-04

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