Presentation on theme: "ASSIGNED LEADERS IN UNIONIZED ENVIRONMENTS: COPING WITH THE ECONOMIC RECESSION AND ITS AFTERMATH IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES 1 Adriene Lim, Ph.D. Dean of Libraries,"— Presentation transcript:
ASSIGNED LEADERS IN UNIONIZED ENVIRONMENTS: COPING WITH THE ECONOMIC RECESSION AND ITS AFTERMATH IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES 1 Adriene Lim, Ph.D. Dean of Libraries, Oakland University June 30, 2013 LRRT Research Forum, ALA Annual 2013
Problem Statement 2 Economic recession and aftermath having a major impact on many academic institutions, even as libraries faced accelerating changes in technology and scholarly communication, and heightened external competition. Unclear if and how unionization has helped or hindered library administrators as they try to transform libraries. Gaps in the literature about changes occurring in unionized libraries and in assigned leaders’ abilities to transform their organizations. Purpose of study was to provide insights about changes occurring in unionized libraries; and to explore if (and how) assigned leaders try to ensure that strategic changes still occur.
Primary Research Objectives 3 Institutional and Library Context To identify changes occurring in unionized academic libraries as a result of the economic crisis To identify perceptions that university administrators have about these changes and effects of unionization on their attempts to address the crisis Union Context To identify benefits and constraints that administrators encounter as a result of working within unionized contexts during economic recessions Leadership Context To identify assigned leaders’ strategies for handling changes in unionized, financially stressed environments
Methodology 4 Multi-case study of four, large, public academic libraries with the same Carnegie classification rank and similar economic indicators. Online survey conducted to determine libraries’ unionization status and other characteristics. Cases selected through purposive/criteria sampling. Eight libraries in subject population, but only four agreed to participate. Data gathered through qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 21 university and library administrators (provosts, vice provosts, library directors, associate / assistant directors), three focus group interviews with unionized librarians and staff, and content analysis of various documents.
Findings: Changes Occurring 5 Chronic/extreme fiscal stress, pessimistic budget outlook Retrenchment and cutback management; severity depended upon stimulus finding, size of institution, region Loss of acquisitions buying power and librarian/staff positions Broad adjustments to organizational structures, functions, and to individual positions No substantial focus on external fundraising or entrepreneurship No perceived change in libraries’ performance levels (but this was not based on real data in most cases) No perceived differences in interactions between library administrators and unionized librarians/staff members Threat or actuality of organizational decline apparent
Findings: Upper-Admin Views 7 Aware of staffing and budgeting challenges, but none seemed optimistic re: increasing libraries’ allocations Aware of heavier workload on remaining employees, challenges in keeping morale/commitment levels high Agreed that libraries’ performance levels remained high (but again seemingly not based on data) Believed unions brought negative and positive effects Lamented less managerial flexibility, more bureaucracy Perceived negative effects were amplified in times of economic crisis Said that shared governance was both improved and damaged - adversarial relations at two sites and not others
Findings: Union Benefits/Constraints 8 Agreements largely negotiated, administrated by others Administrative decision-making about budgets perceived to be mostly intact Delays in planning/implementing of changes Less flexibility in regard to HR issues, more bureaucracy Did not think fiscal adversity would damage relationships with unionized personnel or affect libraries’ performance Unions not contesting technological changes Use of shared, participatory leadership approaches Organizational values shifted - tended more toward internal focus, stability, and control, than toward adaptability and flexibility
Competing Values Framework 9 Output Quality Human Relations ModelOpen Systems Model Internal Process ModelRational Goal Model Flexibility Control Internal (People)External (Organization) Means: Cohesion; morale Ends: Human resource development Means: Flexibility; readiness Ends: Growth; resource acquisitions Means: Information management; communication Ends: Stability; control Means: Planning; goal setting Ends: Productivity; efficiency
Findings: Change Strategies Used 10 Strategic visioning/planning used; some leaders adjusting vision and plans due to economic troubles Communication and transparency emphasized Innovative thinking and resourcefulness seen as key to thriving in lean times – restructuring, redesigning work and implementing new services Leaders used shared, participatory, and team leadership approaches at each site to different degrees Institutional accountability/assessment weakly presented at two sites, a bit stronger at other two sites Protecting existing positions was a high priority at all sites
Findings: Other Themes 11 Content of collective bargaining agreements did not seem to predict shared governance levels, assertion of management rights, etc. Organizational cultures, relationships, and identities were affected by unionization. Argument made that unionized environments needed even more effective managerial leadership functions than non-unionized. Assigned leaders focused more on people and personal values at two of the sites, whereas stronger stewardship and strategic thinking were evident at the other two sites. Attributes of honesty, fairness, courage, and credibility were named by unionized employees as crucial for good leadership.
Implications of the Study 12 Seemingly inconsistent responses? Explanations proposed: Unionization as controversial, sensitive topic Perceived levels of control and instrumentality Unionized environments as inherited legacies Lack of research on unionization in libraries Need for comparative, longitudinal, & single-case studies Need to study leadership attributes and strategies Need to study effectiveness of leadership strategies More study on intersection of leadership, unionization, and economic stress Education of academic library leaders Examination of position classifications
More Implications 13 Organizational cultures, identities, values, and effectiveness Organizational decline and cutback management tactics External fundraising and entrepreneurship Politically intelligent leadership, application of model Administrative strength, accountability, & evaluation/assessment Union-management cooperation – best practices? Organizational dysfunctions and employee morale Resiliency in leadership, application of model More research needed using theories/models in literatures of organizational sciences, management, & public administration