Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Ingrid . Guerra-Lopez
The aim of this study is to explore the faculty’s experience and perspective of the alignment between their research, teaching, and service to the institutional priorities. Presently, higher education faces institutional issues that are unique with varying contexts and where strategic alignment has a vital influence on organizational performance. Although faculty’s core activities are service, teaching, and research, the enduring and prevailing challenges in higher education require faculty to expand their roles of core activities and engage in broader strategic initiatives of institutions. The need for this study is driven by a shortage of evidence about whether and how faculty see this as an important part of their work. The significance of this study is to illustrate how faculty understand and experience strategic alignment and strategic priorities. The guiding research questions were: What is the faculty’s perspective of institutional, college, and department priorities? How do faculty feel about strategic alignment?
The research design of this study was a qualitative thematic analysis study to explore the faculty’s perspective in their natural setting. For the purposes of this study, there were six interviewees and a series of three questions for a total of 18 in-depth interviews to adhere to the qualitative methods of credibility application and consistency. The first interview was conducted to establish the context of the participants’ experience in higher education. The second interview was aimed to obtain details of the participants’ experience as it relates to strategic alignment and their perception of strategic priorities. The third interview asked the participants to reflect on their meaning of strategic alignment and priorities. The six participants were evenly distributed between assistant professors and associate professors. Two institutions were classified as R1s and two institutions were classified as R2s as designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
The data from interviews in this study found that an institutional priority is growth, a college priority is recruitment and retention, and a departmental priority is new majors and programs. With respect for faculty perspectives, these participants found that strategic priorities are important, valuable but inefficient, and that there is a need for enhanced communication from faculty. In addition, faculty reported there are far too many meetings to attend and they receive too many emails; therefore, information on strategic priorities is often missed or overlooked. Faculty in this study reported that when strategic priorities are communicated efficiently and implemented effectively, there is a good response to change to address the priority and find a connection with the merits of performance of teaching, research, and service. Overall, the participants in this study had a great deal of motivation and passion for their students and ensuring their success, as demonstrated in the themes of growth and student focus. The participants commonly reported the strategic priorities should include enhanced communication from faculty and that strategic priorities are reported out without little to no solicitation of faculty input; therefore, adherence and active participation in implementation depend on personal impact.
The gaps in strategic alignment found as a result of this study were in communication, faculty input, and data-informed implementation by administrators, deans, and chairs. This study aims to propose implementing a general system of reporting integrated strategic priorities and data of outcomes at faculty meetings, thereby influencing a higher perception of the unified direction of achievement as an initial step. A recommendation to address the lack of faculty input is to implement a bottom-up approach to developing strategic priorities. The initial step of a bottom-up process is to align expectations by way of involvement and communication between administrators and faculty to facilitate collaboration using general systems theory in higher education.
The sample size of six faculty decreases the validity and generalization of this study as it was aimed to explore faculty experience and perspective that was found to be a gap in the existing literature. A recommendation for future research is to expand the sample size of this study with additional qualitative studies on experience and perspective of strategic alignment and strategic priorities by title, college, and institutional classifications.
Jimenez, Linda, "An Exploration Of Strategic Alignment In Higher Education" (2020). Wayne State University Dissertations. 2356.