- Organizing Higher Education for Collaboration: A Guide for Campus Leaders
Given the current economic status of our nation and the increasing demands for interdisciplinary collaboration in higher education, Organizing Higher Education for Collaboration: A Guide for Campus Leaders by Adrianna J. Kezar and Jaime Lester is important and timely. As noted by the authors, three main purposes exist for the book: “to (1) describe the benefits, necessity, and barriers of collaborative work in higher education, (2) provide a vision for what a collaborative postsecondary institution looks like, and (3) guide educational leaders in efforts to redesign their campuses for collaborative work by presenting the results of a research study of campuses that have been successful in recreating their environments to support collaboration” (pp. xii–xiii). The authors rely on their combined experience and understanding of the importance of collaboration in higher education, a review of the literature, and findings from four case studies to recommend a comprehensive strategy for educational leaders seeking to enhance institutional efficiency and effectiveness.
The book is divided into three parts to assist readers in gaining a deeper understanding of collaboration, strategies involved in collaborative efforts, and methods for reorganization and implementation of a collaboration strategy. Part 1, entitled “Setting the Context for Moving Toward Collaboration: Understanding the Logic, Barriers, and Need to Reorganize,” includes three chapters. Chapter 1 is particularly helpful in defining what the authors mean by collaboration and to identify why collaboration is important to improve different aspects of organizational functioning. Chapter 2 identifies some of the challenges associated with collaboration and introduces Mohrman, Cohen, and Mohrman’s (1995) model “as a point of departure for studying collaboration in higher education, specifically by examining whether campuses that had high levels of collaboration had reorganized in some way and documented the key elements that allowed collaboration to flourish” (Kezar & Lester, p. 37). Chapter 3 offers a case example of a university that successfully reorganized to include greater collaboration. The case example provides readers with concrete ideas about how to move from theory to practice and addresses all aspects of the campus so readers can readily identify steps necessary to create collaborative campus cultures.
Part 2, entitled “Strategies for Reorganizing Campuses,” offers detailed descriptions of seven key aspects of a college or university that must be examined and altered or reorganized to enable collaboration. A chapter is devoted to each aspect, including: mission, vision, and educational philosophy; values; social networks; integrating structures; rewards; external pressures; and learning. Each chapter concludes with key issues or ideas that may be of use to readers considering reorganization. The key issues sections can aid in prompting discussions about collaboration. Part 2 of the book is particularly helpful in outlining the aspects that need to be addressed to create collaborative structures and provides [End Page 565] accompanying examples to illustrate the specifics of change.
Part 3, entitled, “Conclusion: Bringing the Strategies Together for Collective Action,” summarizes the main tenets of the book and demonstrates how each of the seven key features is incorporated in reorganizing for collaboration. The authors offer a “Stage Model of Collaboration in Higher Education” (p. 216) to strengthen implementation, noting that each stage takes a great deal of time to actuate and bring to fruition. The stages include building commitment, which involves listening to external pressure, learning how to collaborate, establishing and maintaining values, and building networks; commitment, which includes examining the mission, vision, and philosophy, facilitating emergence of leadership in a network, and establishing rewards; and, sustaining commitment, which describes how integrating structures and offering rewards and incentives is critical in supporting collaboration. The three stages offer a “model for how the various elements of organizational context unfold over time to create an environment for collaboration” (p. 213). Given the complex nature of reorganization and collaboration, the stages offer readers a clear vision of how the change process occurs.
While reorganizing an entire college or university for any purpose seems difficult and potentially unrealistic, the book provides a foundation and guide for educational...