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Cases of interpersonal loyalty between chief student affairs officers and their superordinate and subordinates
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Little is known about interpersonal loyalty in student affairs higher education settings, yet practitioners agree that its existence is important in the relationship between superordinate and subordinate. The purpose of this study was to discover the nature of loyalty between chief student affairs officers and their subordinates and superordinates. Using the naturalist paradigm and its assumptions as a framework, four institutions of higher education west of the Mississippi River were selected as the context for this research. A type of purposive sampling was used to identify persons who would be most likely to uncover loyalty's salient points. Fifty-four participants were interviewed, including the chief executive officer, the chief student affairs officer, and the directors and department heads in each student affairs sub-specialty area at each case site. The inquirer was the instrument used in this inquiry. No interview guide was developed, but the inquirer asked unassuming, probing questions to reveal participants' tacit and propositional knowledge about loyalty and its manifestations. Other data sources included observation of participants and collection of institutional documents. Appropriate methods were implemented to insure trustworthiness of the inquiry. Several themes central to loyalty and derived from a student affairs context emerged: the nature of loyalty in interpersonal relationships between superordinate and subordinate, personal and organizational dynamics which affect superordinate and subordinate relationships, and convergence of personal and organizational dynamics. Patterns related to the nature of loyalty are focus on an object, process of exchange, consequence of shared experience, and situational quality. Other patterns expressed as dichotomies were its propensity to be: emotional or rational, given automatically or earned, given willingly or unwillingly, reciprocal or demanded, and strength of sentiment. Professional competence, position held in organization, and personal characteristics and virtues of players also were found to be related to the nature of loyalty. Patterns related to personal dynamics included: self-concept, personality, frequency of subordinate/superordinate interaction, and mutual support. Patterns related to organizational dynamics included: organizational structure, shared belief in institutional mission and goals, unwritten professional expectation, subordinate voice in organizational decision making, and power of institutional leaders. Interpersonal loyalty appears to emerge at the convergence of personal and organizational dynamics. Implications of the study are discussed for researchers and practitioners.
SubjectMajor educational administration
1990 Dissertation D544
Counseling in higher education
Line and staff organization
Dibrito, Florence Guido (1990). Cases of interpersonal loyalty between chief student affairs officers and their superordinate and subordinates. Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Libraries. Available electronically from
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