Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Institutional Elements and the Identity of the University Housing and Residence Life Profession
by Sawyer, Rebecca A., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2012, 182; 3490751
Abstract (Summary)

Albert and Whetten (1985) stated that identity clarifies the essence of an organization, defines what makes it distinct from others, and highlights the features that exhibit some degree of continuity over time. As new members enter the organization, the character of the collective may change. Institutional elements may also impact the collective organization. These changes could be seen as a threat to the unique characteristics of the organization. Understanding the identity of a profession helps to answer the important question of value, or legitimize the organization's existence, and add to its survival. This qualitative case study examined group-level identity perceptions through conversations with 26 participants of the Chief Housing Officer (CHO) Institute in an effort to derive meaning for the entire profession. The main research questions were organized into two broad categories, the collective identity framework of the HRL profession and the institutional elements that relate to this identity. Expanding Whetten's (2006) definition of organizational identity to fit the broader boundaries of a profession, the major identity characteristics of the HRL profession were found to be a care for students, focused on education and development, with a 24/7 work-life. Two other themes were discussed, but did not appear to meet the three criteria of core, distinctive, and enduring and were thus considered peripheral identity characteristics. Deep descriptions of each of the characteristics and related practices were provided. The institutional elements that related to the identity characteristics were categorized within the three pillars of institutions described by Scott (1995): regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive. These elements included an increased push for accountability related to the economy and the threat from privatized housing; changing parent and student expectations related to in loco parentis, demographics, and technology's effect on community; a credibility gap felt by the HRL profession with a limited understanding of the profession by stakeholders; and the way people enter and are acculturated into the profession. Conclusions related to the literature suggest that although some of the institutional threats related more closely with specific identity characteristics, overall, the institutional elements helped to strengthen the identity characteristics of the HRL profession.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Casey, Andrea
Commitee: Carter, Joelle, Francis, Ray, Schwandt, David, Walker, Michael
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human Resource Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Organization Theory
Keywords: Housing and residential life, Institutional theory, Organizational identity, University housing administration
Publication Number: 3490751
ISBN: 978-1-267-11909-4
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