Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara Mallory

Committee Member 1

Barbara Price

Committee Member 2

Susan Williams

Abstract

This study was conducted to examine perceptions about information technology management of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in higher education who have previously worked outside that environment. Participants from the University System of Georgia and from universities in the Southern Regional Education Board were interviewed. They had a variety of backgrounds outside higher education, including corporate, military, not-for-profit, and small business. Participants in the study identified challenges related to diversity of students and faculty; the demand by students for leading-edge technology; academic culture; accountability; funding levels and methods; information security; the lack of a bottom line; the decision-making process; and human resources management. Most of these challenges were perceived to be unique to the higher education environment. They affected the IT management practices of participants by making the environment more complex, and increasing requirements for communication and collaboration. However, participants were satisfied with their choice to move into higher education. The researcher concluded that CIOs are subjected to many pressures in the complex and diverse higher education environment. These include diverse needs for technology among faculty and students, an atmosphere that lacks accountability for decisions, and restrictions on funding levels and methods. The environment also lacks a strong goal-setting mechanism that would help CIOs to deal with these pressures, so decision making in higher education is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. The combination of conflicting factors is unique to the higher education environment, but similar across four-year institutions. To be effective, CIOs establish strong partnerships and communicate with key stakeholders frequently. Despite the pressures, CIOs perceive value in the mission and outcomes of their institutions and are generally satisfied with their work. A CIO considering a move into the higher education environment should consider environmental challenges carefully to determine if the CIO can accept those challenges. This results of this study have implications for IT practitioners in higher education, CIOs who are considering moving into the higher education environment, and senior administrators who manage or interact with a CIO in higher education.

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