Career lines, roles, and organizational influences of institutional researchers in two-year institutions of the Southeast and Southwest
Casparis, Cynthia Ann
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The impending retirement of administrators in higher education institutions fuels the need for focused studies on the career lines of administrators. Career lines of various administrative positions have been studied; however, the literature has been deficient with regard to the study of careers of institutional researchers. In order to provide a better understanding of the careers of institutional researchers, the roles of the researcher and the organizational structure and location of the office were studied. There is a gap in the literature as to the organizational structure and location of the office and the influences this has upon the roles the researcher is assigned. The purpose of this study was threefold. The first purpose was to examine the careers of institutional researchers for determination as to what positions encompass the careers of researchers and whether or not career lines exist. The second purpose was to further define the roles assigned to the researcher and to determine the amount of responsibility for those roles. The third purpose was to ascertain the influences the structure and location of the office has on the roles assigned. The subjects for this study included persons holding institutional researcher positions at 359 regionally accredited, public, two-year, associate degree-granting institutions from the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. In examining the career lines and career goals of the researcher, the findings indicated that while researchers hold many positions, there are a few emerging career lines that exist. However, these emerging lines are in the form of boundaries such as administrative ser\ ices and academic affairs instead of specific positions. Those researchers with future career goals will most often be seeking new positions in a new administrative area in two-year institutions within the next one to five years. Upon examination of the amount of responsibility for the various roles of the institutional researcher, it was determined that over 65% of the roles were the responsibility of the institutional researcher only. Additionally, 31%) of the roles were deemed as decentralized or shared functions with other offices on college and university campuses. Slight differences exist in the amount of responsibility the respondents have for the roles assigned. However, to whom a researcher reports, the location of the office within the organization, and the size of the staff of the research office do not significantly influence the amount of responsibility the researcher has for the various identified roles.