Faculty engagement at the British Columbia Institute of Technology: A case study in institutional decision-making

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Faculty engagement
Higher education
Shared governance

Decision-making models and governance structures in Canadian higher education institutions have remained relatively unchanged over the past four decades, despite significant changes in the social, economic, and political environments, in conjunction with significant increases in size and complexity of the institutions themselves. Together these issues create tensions in the institutions to meet the contemporary demands for greater responsiveness and accountability, while satisfying the traditional academic desires for collegial or collaborative decision-making and governance. Issues surrounding faculty engagement in institutional decision-making and governance are highly contextual. It is necessary to explore and understand the perceptions and underlying frames of reference of the participants. For this reason, a mixed methods research design was selected to leverage the qualitative and quantitative instruments that were appropriate and available at a specific institution. This study is situated at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, during a specific window of time (2008 and winter of 2009). The study relies primarily on a qualitative design, utilizing document searches, key informant interviews, and focus group interviews across three employee constituencies. This study also references four British Columbia Institute of Technology Employee Opinion Surveys, which serve to augment the qualitative data and serve as a source for triangulation. The literature review demonstrated a paucity of research on the subject of faculty engagement in higher education governance and decision-making generally and within Canada in particular. It is hoped this study will add to the literature while illuminating the practice of decision-making at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, with the goal of identifying opportunities to enhance the practice of decision-making at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, particularly as it relates to engaging the Institute’s faculty. Keywords: Faculty engagement; higher education; governance; decision-making; collegial; shared governance


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Milton McClaren
Faculty of Education - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ed.D.)