Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The organizational entry of a new college president: Twenty-four months of sensemaking and socialization
by Lohse, Marypatricia, Ph.D., Boston College, 2008, 200; 3310162
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative research study examines the organizational entry process for a new college president and her institution through the lenses of socialization and sensemaking. This research describes and analyzes the experiences of the president and institution members during the search and selection process and her first year in office and conceptualizes these 24 months as an extended period of socialization and sensemaking. A single, explanatory case study, this research draws on data from 19 semi-structured interviews with the president, board chair, board members, vice presidents, deans, faculty, administrators, and alumni at a small, private college in the eastern United States. Analysis of archival documents substantiates and augments interview data.

Findings reveal that the outgoing president's departure was the catalyst for an extended occurrence of sensemaking during the search and selection process. The development and communication of expectations during this phase set the stage for the socialization and sensemaking that occurred during candidacy and the new president's first year in office. Stage models of socialization are inadequate approximations of the experiences of this new college president. Moreover, this president's candidacy and the time spent as president-designate represent a significant period of socialization that emphasizes learning and relationship building. Socialization and sensemaking are interconnected throughout candidacy and the first year in office and are a reciprocal means of acclimation for the president and members of the institution. Sensemaking theories, particularly those that emphasize action rather than retrospection, reveal the ways in which this new president and her institution coped with novel and ambiguous events encountered during entry. An analysis of reorganization strategic planning, and evaluation through the lens of sensemaking reveals the efficacy of Weick's seven properties of sensemaking and suggests that the availability of a variety of resources, particularly access to information, is crucial during entry. Ultimately, this research highlights the need to better understand organizational entry experiences in order to decrease the disruption of transition for institutions of higher education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Youn, Ted I. K.
School: Boston College
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Higher education
Keywords: College presidents, College/university presidents, Leadership transition, Organizational entry, Presidential search, Sensemaking, Socialization
Publication Number: 3310162
ISBN: 978-0-549-58590-9
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