1. What sources of power do the key players have? What types of power do they have? What influencing tactics are used?
As department chair, John Carl has position power. The case indicates that he has not been department chair for long. If he was promoted from among the faculty, he may have personal power as well. If he was hired from outside the college (and we are told that he has been there a shorter time than most of his faculty), he probably has little personal power among the faculty. In the instance of bringing the department together to establish a policy, he is using legitimate power. During the departmental meeting, Carl is using the consultation-influencing tactic – he feels strongly that there should be a policy, but he hasn’t already decided what the policy should be and seeking input from his faculty.
As a tenured faculty member without an administrative title, Latoya Washington does not have position power – she relies on personal power. Initially, she is probably hoping to use referent power, and win her fellow faculty over to her side based on her relationships with them. Thus, her first influencing tactic is personal appeal. When this isn’t successful, she tries another angle by using rational persuasion, providing facts (although unsubstantiated at least for the moment) and logical arguments to convince her fellow faculty that graduate assistants should be allowed to grade objective exams, or barring that, to convince the department chair that there should be no policy at all.
2. What would you do if you were John Carl?
According to the case, “Carl likes to have policies in place, so that faculty members have guides for their behavior.” After consulting with his superiors, he has determined that there should be a departmental policy on the use of graduate assistants.
Graduate assistantships serve two purposes. First, they provide graduate students with meaningful work experience in higher education. The work is generally not high profile or glorious, but is related to the career they are pursuing. Second, they provide faculty with something akin to paraprofessional support in fulfilling their duties. Thus, GA duties are typically ted directly to faculty activities, such as research.
Graduate assistants are in a particularly vulnerable position. The faculty who give them work assignments are the same faculty who assign their course grades, and even determine whether they complete their programs. In some cases, GAs are prohibited from holding outside employment, and are dependent on their GA positions for their income. While the hopes is that faculty will make appropriate use of their Gas, there is always a risk that a GA will be asked to pick up dry cleaning, wash a car, or mow a lawn. In order to protect Gas from this type of imposition, establishing a common sense policy on the appropriate use of Gas is a good idea. Asking the faculty to develop the content of the policy as a group signals the faculty that Carl generally trusts their judgment, and is establishing the policy only as a precaution; it is an effective use of the consultation-influencing tactic. Therefore, up to this point Carl has made no serious errors.
The fact that Carl was not prepared for the debate over the use of Gas to grade exams suggests that he has missed some political undercurrents among the faculty who have been in the department longer than he has. Using Gas to grade objective exams seems rather innocuous to receive this much faculty opposition. If I were Carl, I would make discreet inquiries regarding Washington’s relationships with her colleagues to find out if some other conflict is at work. My suspicion would be that Washington’s colleagues perceive her as lazy. In the meantime, I would invite my dean to lunch at a restaurant frequented by my faculty, and over lunch I would casually mention that my announcement regarding the GA policy was not universally popular, and he might...
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