LET THE DEANS SPEAK: DECANAL PERCEPTIONS OF INSTITUTIONAL RECRUITMENT PRACTICES
Usunier, Marc R
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In spite of the critical role academic deans play in universities (Del Favero, 2006; Dunning, Durham, Aksu, & Lange, 2007; Jackson, 2004), most of what we know about the Canadian deanship we know from an institutional perspective, including our understanding of the recruitment and selection process (Lavigne, 2018). This study explores how successful decanal candidates experience their recruitment processes, how these experiences inform their decision making within that process, and how the process can be improved to support the success of a new dean. Multiperspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to gather data about the recruitment process from a variety of directly related groups. Provosts, deans, and search firm representatives participated in this study. Each study participant had been involved in a recent decanal recruitment and selection process in one form or another. Eight of the 13 participants were sitting deans. Participants all agreed that the search firm is central to the experience of candidates in a decanal search. Provosts, search firm representatives, and candidates alike confirmed that one of the firm’s most important roles, in addition to their support of the search committee in the first stages of position profile and job description development, is initial outreach to candidates. Provosts also highlighted the important role of the search committee, although deans and search firm representatives did not always agree. Search politics, and their influence on the conduct and experience of a search were highlighted in various forms by all participants. The pivotal role of the provost was also noted. By expanding upon Harvey et al.’s (2013) Reference Point Theory it became possible to further our understanding of how search firm representatives and other actors influence a decanal candidate’s decision making within a search. The resultant findings have several important implications for policy, practice, and theory. Given the importance candidates place on search firm representatives and the influence they have on the decisions candidates make within the search process, it is important for institutions to consider alignment between the philosophy of a firm and that of the hiring college, faculty, or wider institution. Institutions and provosts in particular also need to be sure that search firms have access to all of the details, pleasant or otherwise, about both the hiring college or faculty and the decanal position itself. A well-informed search firm representative can more accurately explain the position to candidates as they move through the search. A well-informed candidate can make better-informed decisions as part of that search. In future, including the perspectives of individuals beyond Western Canadian institutions would provide further insights into the decanal recruitment process on a national scale.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeCottrell, Michael; Prytula, Michelle; Burgess, David; London, Chad
Copyright DateJune 2021