Corporate Relationship in the Structure of University Faculty Corporate Culture

Kira Gnyezdilova

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Corporate Relationship in the Structure of University Faculty Corporate Culture

Kira Gnyezdilova

Bohdan Khmelnitsky National University at Cherkasy, Cherkasy, Ukraine


Corporate relations among university faculty are an important part of their corporate culture. The faculty should know how to build business and interpersonal relationships with colleagues, administration, and students. The findings of a survey conducted at different universities characterize corporate relationships with the following key indicators: the instructor’s part in realizing the university policy, interpersonal relationship, rendering assistance to colleagues, and the nature of interaction among university faculty.

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Cite this article:

  • Gnyezdilova, Kira. "Corporate Relationship in the Structure of University Faculty Corporate Culture." American Journal of Educational Research 2.12B (2014): 16-21.
  • Gnyezdilova, K. (2014). Corporate Relationship in the Structure of University Faculty Corporate Culture. American Journal of Educational Research, 2(12B), 16-21.
  • Gnyezdilova, Kira. "Corporate Relationship in the Structure of University Faculty Corporate Culture." American Journal of Educational Research 2, no. 12B (2014): 16-21.

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1. Introduction

Today, the Ukrainian universities are facing some challenges caused by the necessity to revise and develop university strategic policy to ensure its development in new conditions of the university autonomy. Thus, one of the factors that directly affect the university operation is its corporate culture. The carriers of this culture are the representatives of the university community. We should note that the connection between the university corporate culture and its faculty is obvious as the researchers interpret the corporate culture of an educational institution being a set of shared values, norms, traditions that regulate employees’ behavior and interaction.

Faculty’s corporate culture should contain components describing instructors’ awareness of the values and their acceptance; ability to build corporate relationships at different levels of the organizational structure at the educational institution (relationships among employees, between employees and administration); ability to model the behavior in accordance with corporate standards and behaviors; personal awareness of an individual importance for success of the team and organization, the degree of involvement in community and communications systems.

Being one of the components that make up faculty corporate culture, corporate relationships attract our research interest. The study of their characteristics makes it possible to adjust the master training programs for future teachers.

2. Subject

The relationship is an essential element of life and human activity being formed in communication and work. Our research interest is in the relationship among corporate university professors, which we consider to be part of their corporate culture.

The problem of relationship in the team, its influence on human activities attracted the attention of researchers in pedagogy, sociology, psychology, and educational management. There are numerous works by Ukrainian and foreign researchers who studied various aspects of corporate relationships: the relationship of instructors’ corporate culture and socio-psychological climate at the department; the ways of establishing a favorable socio-psychological climate in the team based on business and interpersonal relationships.

However, the issue concerning the nature of corporate relationships in the context of faculty corporate culture requires further research and clarification.

2.1. Faculty Business and Interpersonal Relationships

In social psychology relationships are classified into business and personal relations. The business relation [1, 2] is based primarily on the business interaction that requires personal responsibility for the work; obligations that people undertake when cooperate in projects. Interpersonal relationships are a complementary business structure enriching the business relationship.

Usually, the pairs of opposite relationships are under the consideration: personal and business, emotional and rational, formal and informal, coordinated and subordinated. The nature of the business relationship is formed by business, educational, social activities and people’s social roles; it is governed by legal and moral norms. Personal relationships based on sympathy /antipathy arising during the interaction, are regulated purely by moral norms. Emotional relationships are built on emotions that a person experiences, whereas rational relations are based on analysis of interactions, situations, calculations, usefulness and practicality. Formal relations reflect the interaction between the social status and job rank. Informal relations are those that are not covered by regulations. People with different social status build subordinated relationships. If organizational members are of equal status, the coordination between them forms relationships that allow coordinate and cooperate in activities.

When at work faculty both form the corporate relationship and are affected by the great variety of formal relations. Formal relations develop various patterns including: faculty faculty of the same unit, faculty faculty from the different unit, faculty librarians, faculty staff, faculty – administration/researchers.

Formal relations require the use of certain models of corporate behavior with prescribed interactions between social roles and social rank, equal and different social status. Formal relations among employees of equal rank are based on mutual respect, tolerance and recognition of colleagues of equal opportunities. Being equal colleagues consider orders, guidance, and directions unacceptable. They replace them for request, advice, and help. The results of a faculty survey suggest that sometimes even "soft" forms of interaction can cause resistance in colleagues, because: they can feel some arrogance and disrespect in the nature of advice; request intonation is taken as an order; assistance is provided in exchange for a concession; assistance is offered unexpectedly when it is not needed or wanted.

Formal relations among faculty member do not tend to intervene in the professional competence of another instructor, because it usually leads to business conflicts. Formal relations among university faculty are much more complex than among teachers in a public school, where they are more sincere and open. This is explained by a more complex structure of the formal university hierarchy (position, academic degrees), dependence of workload and salary on faculty social rank. Seniority and age have an impact on formal relations. Rules for building formal relations among employees of the same rank at the university have been known for a long time. As they proved to be of great importance we would like to explain them to future teachers.

Subordinated relationships are formed on the basis of order / subordination and can be found in the following interaction systems: faculty head of a particular department, faculty – an administrator, faculty student. The relation nature and ways they are reflected always emphasize the difference in social status. Orders and instructions are appropriate in subordinated relationship. The leader is always active in the subordinated relationship. How active is an employee is determined by their status in the organization, the nature of their authority, and the nature of the relationship with the leader. Subordinated relationships are emphasized by the rules of business communication (an office as a private secluded environment, a ritual of entering the leader’s office, ritual of greetings, waiting in the line, time of an appointment, time constraints of communication, etc.). We observe fewer open conflicts in subordinated relationship among employees of the same social rank. However, one should not think that there is no confrontation in this type of relationship. Sometimes an employee’s hidden resistance is present, but it is not shown explicitly, and only an experienced manager can detect signs of resistance in the form of responses, intonation, or behavior.

Theoretical principles of corporate relations can be found in human relations school by E. Mayo and M. Follett, in G. Becker’s idea of human capital as an organization resource and A. Maslow’s motivation theory. The fundamental works of these scientists emphasized the importance of human resources in the organizations as opposed to material resources.

The impact that corporate relations between administration and employees, and among employees in the organization have on the labor productivity can be expressed by the pattern: administration care for subordinates – the degree of employee’s satisfaction with working conditions – growth in productivity.

According to E. Mayo’s [3] research findings the rigid hierarchy and formalization of the management are incompatible with human nature and that business and informal relationships at work satisfy person’s social needs.

A. Maslow [4] identified a set of human needs including fundamental levels of needs at the bottom and top hierarchy needs. The most fundamental and basic needs include physiological needs (breathing, food, water, sex etc); need for safety (security of body, of employment, confidence, freedom from fear and failure); need for belonging and love (friendship, love); need for self-esteem (confidence, self-esteem, approval, achievement, respect of others and by others); educational needs (to know, to be able, to explore); aesthetic needs (harmony, order, beauty). The top level of the hierarchy needs include the need for self-actualization (the realization of their goals, abilities, and self development). However, researchers often use the simplified five-level hierarchy of categories including physiological needs (hunger, thirst, sex); safety needs (comfort, sustainable living conditions); social needs (social relationships, communication, commitment, concern for others and respect for oneself, joint activities); needs of esteem (self-respect, respect from others, recognition, success and high scores, professional growth); self-actualization (morality, creativity, self-expression, self-identification).

In examining faculty – student interactions we found that they can have negative impacts that can develop with carrying out professional responsibilities. These may include:

• faculty’s liberal attitude to students’ academic performance, which results in lowering student academic achievements. Students fail to meet achievement standards established at the university, thus lowering the quality of knowledge. Instructor’s liberal attitude can be expressed in shifting exams to a date later than determined by the syllabus, giving a permission to re-write "a failed" work after the exam; lowering evaluation criteria for students’ learning outcomes; grading student works or reports after the deadline, passing works that do not meet established requirements or submitted with considerable delay; showing conscious disregard for plagiarism in essays, term papers and diploma works;

• lowering the assessment and evaluation standards (an instructor being irresponsible missing consultation, avoiding office hours, passing low quality student independent work reports, showing a formal approach to the test development to measure students' academic performance, decreasing learning outcomes assessment criteria).

We refer to violations of faculty – administration corporate relations as all violations of corporate discipline, missing the requirements for professional activities. When faculty abdicates their responsibilities as teachers they:

• fail to fulfill the teaching load in assigned courses or their equivalents over the academic year;

• fail to observe academic regulations concerning the holding of classes, examinations, grades;

• are little involved in scholarly research, use old publications, plagiarize, which gradually reduces the quality of their professional activities and makes supervision of student research less effective;

• do not prepare for classes thus losing professionalism;

• ignore university rules for dress code and looks;

• do not align with the priorities of the university being reluctant to carry out tasks assigned by the university administration / department (delay in terms of performance, looking for excuses that could explain the delay, blaming colleagues for not supporting etc.);

• when department administration does not supervise faculty.

We found that the corporate relations system "faculty – faculty" is characterized by:

• conflicts including conflicts of ambition, conflicts of contempt, conflicts of neglect, recognition and other conflicts;

• pressure on the faculty member who is in the opposition to the university administration;

• corporate concessions when the faculty agree to change the grade when requested by administration or another faculty member.

3. Materials and Methods

During the experimental work we examined the faculty corporate culture and the corporate relations which play an important role in the wider area of organizational culture.

For practical reasons to avoid confusion and misunderstanding in further discussion of the experiment findings we need to define concepts referring to formation the corporate (organizational) culture in the university and its social and psychological climate. According to M. Armstrong [5], "measurement" of the climate is referred to as an attempt to evaluate the organization indicators that convey or describe faculty perceptions of corporate relations. The difference between existing national and international methods of diagnosing corporate relationship is found in terms or categories in which they are measured. Thus, the George H. Litwin, Robert A. Stringer Jr. [6] questionnaire contains the following categories: structure (awareness of restrictions and freedoms of action and the degree of formality and informality in the environment it operates), responsibility, risk, warmth, support, standards (awareness of the importance of internal and external goals and standards for efficient operation), conflicts, and identification.

Ukrainian and Russian scholars are exploring corporate relations with the following parameters: the desire to preserve the integrity of the team unity, contact, openness, organization, awareness, and responsibility. When examining the corporate culture of the organization the general indicators that give a general idea of its condition are used, for example, work, communication, management, motivation, ethics, and the role of a leader. Foreign methods of studying corporate (organizational) culture are focused on determining the type of the organization culture using the typology (Denison D. [7], Cameron Kim. S., Quinn Robert E. [8]; Handy Ch. [9] et al.).

The study of corporate relations is an important step in the study of faculty corporate culture, because it allows developing a system of training for future teachers by including necessary elements in their master program.

We examined faculty corporate relations with the questionnaire designed by the author. It contained statements that describe the features of the faculty interaction when cooperating in joint activities. The questionnaire has statements with four extensions to complete each statement. The respondents could choose only one of the four options offered.

The areas in the survey were: the role of the faculty achievements in the university efficiency, relationship, availability of the support from colleagues, and communication.

The research was conducted at the three universities in Ukraine and covered 376 respondents that are instructors with different teaching experience and experience working at the university. For the entire sample of respondents the average period of work at the university is 17 years. Instructors participated in the survey entirely voluntarily.

The survey results showed the correlation between the relationship among colleagues and rendering support. The paper will discuss the areas of corporate relations.

4. Results

First we wanted to understand how the respondents assessed the role of their academic achievements in the success of the team. The respondents completed the questionnaire statement: "I believe that the success of the university where I work…". The survey results are given in Table 1.

Table 1. The Role of the Faculty in the Efficiency of the University Policy

As it is seen, 69.1% of the faculty reported that they regard the success of the university policy to be the result of coordination between the team and team leader, while 27.7% believe that the success of the university policy is due to their personal academic achievements without taking into account the leader’s role. And only 3.2% of the faculty members consider that the university efficient policy is due to the leader’s good management. There are no replies that reveal overestimation of a personal role. This means that faculty members understand the importance of coordinated work and do not overestimate their contribution to the university success.

To continue with the indicators, we need to note that the researchers use collectivism / individualism among the indicators that describe the type of corporate culture. The study results by Ukrainian scientists prove that there is a correlation between an organization and individual, corporate culture and individual’s culture. A group of researchers [10], explaining the positive and negative impacts that a group / team has on the individual refer to the theory of groups (social psychology). They point out that people inevitably tend to get into small groups. The researchers point out that the team is a highly organized group characterized by psychological similarities, good business and interpersonal relationships, two-way communication, recognized leaders, efficiency, personal morale and is based on the mutual trust, respect, openness, and honesty. Such groups must meet certain requirements, for example, be responsible when performing their tasks, share values, establish good humane relations, create for each member the opportunity for personal advancement, and motivate each other to be productive. The effectiveness of such a group is higher than the sum of the performances of each of its members. Such group is characterized by high corporate culture.

When studying how the university corporate culture is formed, researchers consider that the term “team” referred to as “an ideal” group should not prioritize collective over individual, should not make individual subordinate to the collective. While forming a team one should encourage the employees to take personal responsibility for the organization’s success.

The authors [11] clearly illustrate the "principle of scales" balanced team characteristics describing teamwork and personal attitude. Affiliation which means connection, communication, emotional relationship with other people, characterized by mutual acceptance, commitment, the need for communication, desire for relationship and referenceness (from the Latin term referens) meaning the quality of the team to influence an individual shaping their opinions, judgments, and behavior are on one scale. The individual freedom is on the other.

It is important for our study to analyze the relationship among faculty as an important factor that influences the parameters of the university corporate culture [12], (Table 2).

60.6% of the respondents stated that they are happy about academic achievements and outcomes of each other. It characterizes relatively friendly atmosphere and good communication among colleagues in terms of teaching, research, and corporate interaction at the university. While 17% and 20.2% indicate the existence of significant problems in the relationship among faculty. 2.1% suggest that the relationship among faculty is not established.

Another important indicator of faculty corporate relations at the university community is the support and assistance that colleagues offer each other. Responses to the statement "I can say with confidence that my team ..." are given in Table 3.

Table 3. Faculty Responses about Assistance from Colleagues

A significant number of 59.6% respondents can confidently say that most colleagues in their team help each other in solving professional problems and other matters. This suggests that faculty established friendly relationship (data are taken from various university departments). Many employees rely on help from their colleagues. Although most faculty said that they needn’t help in their professional activities, they identified some areas, where they agreed to receive some assistance, for example, when working on projects, rendering community service, working with student groups, and developing documents.

The results of the corporate relationships study among colleagues that prove our statements are shown in Figure 1. We found that the relationship among colleagues determines how much assistance they render each other when they work together. (r = 0,68, p < 0,001). The better the relationship in the team, the more you can rely on the assistance.

Figure 1. Correlation Galaxy of Interdependencies in Faculty Corporate Relations

According to O. Ivanova [13] interaction among employees in their professional activities is determined by the nature of their social relationships at different levels. The author examines cases where organization parameters match individual ones.

1) coordination / mismatch of social organization goals, social system and individual;

2) similarity / difference in social requirements and individual expectations;

3) match / mismatch of the organization requirements and the individual’s behavior;

4) coordination / divergence of regulatory requirements, social group standards and individual norms;

5) commonality / difference of values of the organization and the individual.

Studying the nature of interaction among faculty revealed (Figure 2) that 18.1% of respondents have only business relationships with colleagues.

Thus 13.8% of faculty reported that their interaction with colleagues is purely formal, and it is the norm in the organization. This is the evidence that the importance of corporate relationship is decreasing, because they are not complemented by interpersonal relationship. The majority of faculty (55.3%) believe that the interaction among faculty is open, full of care, and consideration about others and their problems. 11.7% of respondents said that the interaction with colleagues is based on the emotional support that is in its turn based on the "family" relationship. The disadvantage of such relations is the lack of control, reduced demand for business relationships in the team. Unfortunately, 1.1% did not respond.

The following statement: "When cooperating in social activities, developing projects, drafting legal documents, organizing and conducting conferences, scientific-methodological seminars, etc." is supposed to determine the ways faculty establishes relationship in professional activities. The survey results are presented in Table 4.

Figure 2. The nature of the interaction among university professors (survey results)

Table 4. Faculty willingness to establish relationships with colleagues

The results analysis showed that 60.6% of the university faculty tries to adjust relations with colleagues and achieve the desired result. This suggests that this group of faculty (which is the majority) is not satisfied with the nature of relationships with colleagues. 28.7% of respondents said that they did not have any relationship, and interact only if it does not hamper the business. Among the faculty we found a small percentage of respondents for whom business is more important than relationships with colleagues (4.3%), and those for whom relations with colleagues are more important than business (5.3%).

5. Conclusion

The study of corporate relations as a structural component of the corporate culture at the university enabled us to analyze the business (formal and informal) relationship among the faculty, describe their specific characteristics, establish typical examples of how the faculty break corporate relations norms at the university.

The study found that most of the surveyed faculty considers the success of the university policy to be the result of cooperation between the leader and the team. They believe that the relationship among colleagues are described as friendly, open, and rely on assistance from their colleagues. It is statistically proved that there is a correlation between relationship among faculty and the assistance they render each other. While performing most common projects university faculty try to adjust their relationships with colleagues and achieve the desired result. This statement deserves further study though.

Based on the analysis of the interaction between educational institutions and faculty members we offered ways to describe different types of interactions.

The obtained data show that the university faculty corporate culture is not developed enough. A set of corporate relationships that are deformed and need adjustment were identified.


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