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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Relationship of Organizational Structures in Higher Education to Risk Management
by Asante, Robert, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2019, 230; 27664719
Abstract (Summary)

In this study, I focused on risk management in higher education and the impact of structures on risk outcomes. Threats come in many forms and persistently exploit vulnerabilities in higher education business operations and practices. When threats agents are successful, they give birth to all sorts of risks (i.e., financial, reputation, operational, information, privacy, and strategic). The need for strategic leadership has never been so urgent given the new challenges of cybercrimes, compliance and privacy incidents, internal and external pressures, and the fast and agile higher education landscape. In this study, I explore strategic risk management in higher education with an emphasis on organizational structures. I have captured the stories of higher education risk officers to inspire risk management conversations and ongoing decisions.

Organizations are in different stages of development, and the scope of operation, mission, leadership styles, governance, and culture are the bases upon which risk management decisions are made. According to (Mintzberg, 1983), factors that influence organizational behavior are known as situations and influence structural decisions. Given current challenges on campuses, it is difficult for old structures to keep up with new and sprightly evolution of educational demands. For years, universities and colleges have thrived on open access, decentralized structures, and non-punitive, risk-averse cultures. Unfortunately, the sluggish pace with which higher education adapts to stakeholder expectations, technology, and regulatory changes heightens risk management problems. The multiple layers of bureaucracy that are required for changes to occur in higher education include resistance to change and decentralization of processes with each unit presiding over their affairs. Evolving threats on college campuses require structures with agility and the intelligence to detect and prevent risk proactively. With new threats at the doorsteps and inside the scope of higher education, administrators must consider whether the current risk structures can address the new threats on university campuses.

In higher education, implementation of new structures and controls funnel through bureaucratic rigor that sometimes lasts for months and even years with no guarantee of conclusion. In higher education, confronting challenging administrative processes and doing the heavy lifting required to establish buy-ins for change is a daunting task. However, the strength of higher education is in its ability to engage in civil discourse, research, inquisitions, and experimentation for the betterment of the general society and the communities the university serves. Organizational structure is vital as institutions implement proactive risk-management programs across multiple organizational units. Major research universities are looking for ways to centralize communication and functional structures for essential services while allowing responsibility centers to manage their organizations, a win-win situation.

For this exploratory study, I used qualitative research methods and collected and analyzed data from semi-structured interviews of risk officers to understand the ways in which different structures in four major research universities in the United States affected risk management. The findings of the study include the benefits of adopting an appropriate institutional risk management structure to advance important institutional agenda and to promote discussions about risk management structures in higher education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Garland, Peter
Commitee: Eckel, Peter, Blake, Brian M
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 81/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Information Technology, Business administration
Keywords: Compliance, Privacy, Information security, Organizational structures, Reporting structures, Risk management, Risk management effectiveness, Risk Management in higher education
Publication Number: 27664719
ISBN: 9781658477802
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