Higher Education Administrators at International Branch Campuses: A Mixed-Methods Research Study on Organizational Commitment
de Wekker, Murielle, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Breneman, David, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
The creation of international branch campuses (IBC) has been a recent and significant development in international higher education, with a 23% increase of branches between 2009 and 2012 for a total of 200 IBCs worldwide (Lawton & Katsomitros, 2012). Despite this growth, there is a dearth of research on employees managing these new operations. To fill this gap, this doctoral study features IBC higher education administrators. This work is based on a mixed-methods design to measure and explain organizational commitment of international branch campus administrators. Organizational identity is the theoretical construct of this dissertation.
The goals of this research study are twofold. Its first purpose is to measure the level of organizational commitment among upper-level and mid-level higher education administrators at international branch campuses. It also explores the relationship between specific organizational variables, personal characteristics and levels of organizational commitment. The second goal of this study is to investigate and describe how upper-level and mid-level administrators perceive their organizational commitment to their international branch campus. More specifically, it seeks to uncover how perceived environmental uncertainty, organizational and personal characteristics influence their organizational commitment.
The research questions are:
1. What is the level of organizational commitment of non-faculty IBC upper-level and mid-level higher education administrators?
2. What are the differences in levels of organizational commitment between non-faculty IBC upper-level and mid-level administrators?
3. What is the relationship between selected organizational variables and personal characteristics with organizational commitment of non-faculty IBC upper-level and mid-level higher education administrators?
4. How do non-faculty IBC upper-level and mid-level higher education administrators make sense of their organizational commitment in the context of perceived environmental uncertainty?
5. In what ways do selected organizational variables and personal characteristics influence how non-faculty IBC upper-level and mid-level higher education administrators perceive their organizational commitment?
To answer the research questions, an Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (Mowday et al., 1979) was completed by 205 administrators and ten administrators were interviewed.
The answers are:
1. The level of organizational commitment of non-faculty IBC upper and mid-level higher education administrators is average.
2. There is no significant difference in levels of organizational commitment between non-faculty IBC upper and mid-level administrators.
3. There may be a relationship between one organizational variable (campus size) and organizational commitment of non-faculty IBC upper and mid-level higher education administrators. Administrators working for large campuses (with over 1,000 students) have significantly higher levels of commitment than administrators working for small campuses (with less than 50 students).
4. The IBC administrators’ relationship with the home campus is the primary factor influencing their commitment. Other factors, such as the challenges of operating in a foreign country, influence their commitment too, but in a lesser way.
5. IBC administrators’ commitment was found to be influenced by six personal characteristics and four organizational variables.
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
International branch campuses, higher education administrators, organizational commitment, perceived environmental uncertainty, perceived organizational support.
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