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date: 26 September 2022

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education: Historical Overview, Organizational Considerations, and Implicationslocked

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education: Historical Overview, Organizational Considerations, and Implicationslocked

  • Ralph A. GigliottiRalph A. GigliottiCenter for Organizational Leadership, Rutgers University

Summary

Colleges and universities are values-based organizations. These values help anchor an institution around a set of shared principles that, when enacted, provide guidance and stability in the pursuit of one’s mission. The realization of the tripartite mission of teaching, research, and service—and in some cases, community engagement and/or clinical excellence—hinges on the articulation, identification, and manifestation of some set of shared values. During times of stability and normalcy, the embodiment and enactment of core values may come quite naturally to the members of an organization, often with little reflection or deliberation. But amid the perilous conditions often present during periods of crisis, these values have the potential to recede from view as those with formal crisis responsibilities respond to the urgent demands of the moment. Crises, by their very nature, cause disruption, and they have the potential to threaten an organization’s core mission, purpose, or reason for existence. Within the context of higher education, the work of crisis leadership is made especially complex in light of the decentralized and loosely coupled organizational structure of colleges and universities, along with the traditions, decision making patterns, and limited opportunities for training and development that constrain institutions in responding to the complexity, urgency, and interdependent pressures characteristic of contemporary crises. Furthermore, the moral purpose of higher education, the diversity of stakeholders, and the wide range of potential crisis situations make the subject of crisis leadership in this context one of increased relevance and importance for scholars and practitioners alike.

Subjects

  • Policy, Administration, and Bureaucracy

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