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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Presidential assistants in higher education and their use of power, authority and influence
by Sass, Michael A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2016, 217; 10242401
Abstract (Summary)

The position of presidential assistant (PA) is a regularly occurring senior-level administrative position within institutions of higher education. PAs are instrumental to the success of the organization in which they work. Unlike many other higher education positions that fall into a specific hierarchy related to authority, the PA position does not often do so.

This dissertation studied the lateral use of influence tactics among PAs in higher education to better understand their leadership capabilities and their use of influence to accomplish their work. Other demographic and contextual variables were also examined.

To compare behavioral influence tactics used by PAs in higher education with formal and informal authority, 39 participants completed the Presidential Assistants Demographic and Leadership Characteristics Survey and at least one Presidential Assistant Influence Incident Report Form. Incident forms were coded to identify the frequency of use of Yukl’s 11 behavioral influence tactics.

The responses of 30 PAs with informal authority and 9 PAs with formal authority revealed some inferences of slight differences in influence tactics use. For both groups rational persuasion, consultation, pressure and coalition tactics were used most often and in the same order of frequency. Personal appeal and exchange were preferred in the same order of frequency but were almost never used. Apprising, ingratiation, inspirational appeal and legitimating tactics were used occasionally by both groups but preferences for these tactics was demonstrated in a different order. Kruskal-Wallis H tests indicated that PAs with formal authority were found to use collaboration, personal appeal and rational persuasion slightly more often than PAs with informal authority. More generally, PAs used inspirational appeal more frequently during employee relations incidents than during any other type of administrative situation. They also used consultation more frequently during event planning incidents than any other tactic.

This study was supported by previous research on the use of influence tactics and their outcomes, while suggesting possibilities for future research. Results also suggested a relationship between PAs perceptions of their sources of power and their use of influence tactics. Implications for research and practice as well as directions for future research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lane, Jason E.
Commitee: Hitchcock, Karen, Lawson, Hal A.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, School administration, Higher education
Keywords: Formal authority, Higher education, Influence tactics, Informal authority, Presidential assistants, Social power bases
Publication Number: 10242401
ISBN: 978-1-369-39603-4
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