Thinking Strategically About Department Life

Academic departments are complex organizations with a number of unique conditions that foster this complexity, including (but not limited to):

  • decentralized authority and microenvironments
  • the norms of collegiality and autonomy
  • the perpetuity of faculty membership
  • norms of eccentricity and an iconoclastic culture
  • theoretical/disciplinary divisions
  • the power and importance of tenure
  • interdisciplinary tensions (joint appointments, resource competition, etc.)
  • the role of mentorship and apprenticeship models in the career development process (of students, postdocs, and faculty)
  • the role, status, and culture differences between faculty and staff
  • the faculty star system
  • academic marriages (with both spouses on the faculty)

Learning to think strategically about these organizational dynamics can reap significant rewards in the success of the department and the satisfaction of faculty, students, and staff.

Consultations, training, and coaching for department chairs, deans, and other academic leaders provide the support and foresight to avoid problems and foster academic excellence.

Seminars, retreats, and other faculty conversations help raise awareness of the realities of the academic context and promote a more productive shared engagement in the success of the organization.

For further information see: