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ERIC Number: ED547301
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 184
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2674-3479-1
Power Experienced by Women as Described by Chief Academic Officers at Women's Colleges and Universities in the United States
Dustrud, Stephanine A. Martin
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
Power is embedded within all aspects of human experience and has been a fundamental constituent in social systems since the beginning of recorded history. Power exists in every organization and evolves as the culture of the organization exerts its influence. Organizational structures and systems dictate the elements of power, its use, and its operators. According to Vail (2004), "power defines every aspect of our experience of reality" (p. 3) and French and Raven (1959) stated, "the processes of power are pervasive, complex, and often disguised in our society" (p. 150). Invisible and intangible power dynamics imbue relationships within organizations. For some individuals, power is perplexing with countless layers of meaning. Given the ubiquitous nature of power, this descriptive phenomenological study sought to understand the meaning of power through the question: What is the experience of power for women who are chief academic officers at women's colleges and universities? Six women who are chief academic officers in a women's college or university in the United States described the experience of power through a phenomenological interview that was audio-taped and transcribed. Narrative writing and participant observation methods were also used. The face-to-face interview and in-person observation was held on the campus of each participant. Data analysis followed a descriptive phenomenological approach guided by Karin Dahlberg, Nancy Drew, and Maria Nystrom (2001). The findings illustrate the general structure of the experience of power to be dynamic, fraught with nuances and intricate details. It includes the comprehensive nature of the role and responsibilities of the chief academic officer position, organizational culture and traditions, as well as relationships inside and outside of the organization. The experience is bound by the formal leadership sphere, which includes context, situation, relationship, and the woman in the position doing the right thing. This makes the experience of power complex, difficult to express with distinct demarcations, and interesting to consider. The general structure of an experience of power is holistically comprehended as elucidated through five constituents: who I am; authorizing environment; mantle of the office; all about relationships; and leadership. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A