Official Narratives of Status and Strategy in World Class Institutions: Beyond Isomorphism
AuthorPotter, Russel Leon
AdvisorRhoades, Gary D.
Committee ChairRhoades, Gary D.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractLeaders of world-class research universities present a public discourse about status that is captured in annual addresses, letters to the community, reports, strategic plans, and other official presentations. This project attempts to identify the narratives of status as represented in the official discourse of university presidents, vice-chancellors, and chancellors. It relies on Slaughter's (1993) approach to identifying narratives in official speech of institutional leaders, and on Salmi's (2009) categorization of the common features of world-class institutions. Challenging the concept that institutional isomorphism should lead to homogeny in institutional narratives, this study reveals that great differentiation in the field of research-intensive, world-class higher education institutions leads to distinct approaches to the narrative of status. The analyses confirm Reisman (1958) and reintroduces the concept that institutional activity is not as tightly isomorphic as would be expected based on more current dominant notions of institutional isomorphism (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). This project proposes that analysis of higher education, indeed any analysis based on institutional theory, needs to recognize that behavior is not intentionally linked from one sector of a field to the next, with the model institutions laying the path and the rest of the field summarily following along. Instead, the following institutions may chart their own course based on incomplete information and an inability to detect the direction and activities, the motivation and results, taking place at the head of the field. Expanding on Reisman (1958), I propose a distinct field revision to traditional institutional theory, which allows for variations and freedom from homogeny within the greater field of higher education, as an explanation for variation in institutional behavior.
Degree ProgramGraduate College