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College presidents and administrative team members: An investigation of a team leadership approach to financial decision -making in liberal arts colleges

Kathleen J Mangano, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this multi-case study was to examine how presidential leadership teams function in three all-women's liberal arts colleges dealing with a financial crisis situation. Higher education faces numerous challenges and there is pressure to have strong administrators with skills and strategies and administrative practices to battle these complex realities. Strong presidential leadership is critical to help solve the economic problems facing many colleges and universities, and a team leadership approach is a particular style of leadership that can be used to counteract these problems. A multiple case study design, which included cross analysis of information gathered through open-ended interviews, observations, and written documents, was conducted. Microscopic analysis, open and axial coding, and a coding scheme were used to help identify and clarify themes. The findings are consistent with the research literature on team leadership in higher education. As "real" teams, each College President utilized all three functions (i.e., utilitarian, expressive, cognitive) concurrently, which influenced the effectiveness of the teams and their ability to make valid and rationale decisions during their financial crisis situation. The level of effectiveness, however, varied along a continuum ranging from effective to ineffective within each functional area. Other factors that contributed to the effectiveness of the team leadership style were the team member's and president's perspectives of their roles individually and collectively. In addition, the women's college context, the institutional size and non-hierarchical environment, and the President's relationship with the faculty all were considered influential in the effectiveness of the team's functions. These findings emphasize the benefits of implementing a team leadership approach. This leadership style facilitates sharing information and working collaboratively; a supportive community; viewing problems from multiple perspectives; and, encourages strong faculty involvement in the decision-making process. Decisions made by a team can be more effective than a decision made by one person.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Mangano, Kathleen J, "College presidents and administrative team members: An investigation of a team leadership approach to financial decision -making in liberal arts colleges" (2007). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3275738.