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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Structure and perceived adequacy of performance in British Columbia community colleges Williams, David Rees


The study examined relationships between structural characteristics of organizations and their sub-units, and the way in which those sub-units were perceived to be performing, by observers within the organization. Data were collected in Colleges and some of their Departments in British Columbia. The study attempted to extend an existing conceptual framework in two ways. One was by an extension to College Departments. The other was the indorporation of variables of Perceived Adequacy of Performance and Congruence on structural variables into the framework. The basic conceptual framework was derived from organization theory, in particular a line of inquiry first developed by the Aston researchers, and later used by others, whose modifications permitted its use in educational organizations. The study used an expanded version of the variable which had been termed "technology" by the Aston group. This conceptualization viewed Colleges and their Departments as "people-processing" organizations, serving a community, and working with raw materials (students) who become the output to markets of employers and other institutions of education. This view of Colleges as organizations was held to imply that they possess structural elements in a way which is similar to that of other organizations. The model which was constructed included four kinds of variable element. These were termed contextual, structural, performance and congruence variables. The structural variables were measured in both the Colleges and the Departments., Performance variables were measured in the Departments only, and the variables of Congruence were constructed by comparing Departmental scores on structural variables with the scores of the parent College on those structural variables. The development of this model of organization constraints and characteristics formed the first part of the study. Succeeding stages were concerned with the adaptation of instruments to measure the variables, and with methods of constructing a measure for Congruence, with the use of these instruments in the Colleges and Departments of the sample, and with the analysis of the resulting data. The purpose of this analysis was to refine the instruments as a means to assess their external validity, and then to utilise scores on the refined instruments to make comparisons between members of the sample. The adapted instruments were tested in a pilot study, which was carried out in a College of the Province, which did not form part of the sample, but which was similar to the Colleges of the sample. The instruments were then used in ten Colleges and a total of forty Departments (four in each College), in B.C. The data from these Colleges and Departments were used in the refinement of the instruments by tests of internal consistency. These included item analysis, a form of split-half analysis, and factor analysis .in the case of the Perceived Adequacy of Performance instrument. The tests which were carried out on the instruments measuring structural variables led to the modification of the instruments, so that each included only items which approximated a scale, and which could be considered to form homogeneous sets. The process reduced the number of items in each instrument. In the case of the Diversification of Workflow instrument, different sets of items were isolated for the different sub-samples. An analysis of the data, using only the items retained in the refined instruments, showed that the instruments discriminated between the members of the sample, and also, in some respects, between the sub-samples of the whole sample. As a consequence, the focus of subsequent consideration was placed upon differences between; the types of sub-sample, rather than between the individual members of the sample themselves. The results of the analysis permitted tentative identification of structural characteristics which appear to be important correlates of adequacy of performance in the assessments of different observers. There were indications that in some cases, it is the comparative rather than the actual degree of certain structural characteristics which seemed to be related to these assessments.

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