Title

An analysis of the relationship of role conflict and ambiguity to selected antecedent and consequent variables as perceived by higher education administrators

Date of Completion

January 1988

Keywords

Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The purposes of the study were: (1) To identify the extent of role stress and explore its antecedents and (2) To determine the impact of role stress on the university. A causal model was developed and tested to address the following question: What are the relationships of role conflict and ambiguity to selected antecedent and consequent variables as perceived by higher education administrators?^ Variables included individual characteristics of administrators (age, sex, job tenure, years in higher education administration and role orientations), organizational characteristics of the academic institutions (organizational level and formalization), role stress (role conflict and ambiguity) and organizational commitment.^ Five hundred and fourteen (514) academic and non-academic administrators from the six publicly-supported, doctorate-granting New England universities were sent a questionnaire containing measures of all variables in a single booklet. A 70% response rate was obtained yielding a total sample of 362.^ Data analysis began with three separate path analyses performed on three pseudo-random splits of the total data set for cross-validation purposes. Results of these analyses were used to develop a single, trimmed, preferred model which was compared with the fully saturated model for the total data set. Subsequent analyses determined the direct, indirect, spurious, and unanalyzed effects.^ The substantive analysis of the trimmed, preferred model demonstrated support for contentions of both role theory and the psychology of organizational commitment. That is, that the university organization can create stress, which in turn, influences commitment to it. Five variables were found to exert direct effects on organizational commitment and explained 36% of the systematic variance in this criterion. These included: age, sex, organizational role orientation, role conflict and role ambiguity. Three variables were highly predictive of role conflict, but explained only 13% of the systematic variance in this criterion. The three variables exerting direct effects were: formalization, professional role orientation, and organizational level. Three variables were also found to be highly predictive of role ambiguity. Formalization, years in higher education administration and age exerted direct effects and explained 29% of the systematic variance in this criterion. ^