The temporary faculty : A case study of Houston Community College



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The academic faculty at Houston Community College is the focus of this study because of its "tempor" nature-ninety-five percent of the academic faculty are employed on a part-time basis. This preponderance of part-time faculty presents an important area of investigation in sociological analysis of organizations. A proposed organizational form of the future is temporary or ad hoc work groups that are formed to solve specific problems. Two of the leading exponents of "temporary" work groups are Warren Bennis and Philip Slater. In The Temporary Society (1968) Bennis and Slater propose the temporary work group as a prescription for problems they believe inherent in bureaucratic organizations- resistance to change and strict hierarchical authority arrangements. The authors contend the above characteristics of bureaucratic organizations are impediments to organizational efficiency in the current environment of change and democratic attitudes to authority which they contend is increasingly the trend in society. Both participant observation and survey research have been utilized as methods of study. Two-hundred twenty-six HCC instructors responded to a questionnaire especially designed for the HCC faculty. The questionnaire sought not only information concerning demographic characteristics and teaching and grading methods of respondents but also information concerning respondent's goal, perception and evaluation, attitudes toward the organization, and professional affiliations. Frequency distributions, chi square techniques, and participant observation are the principle methods of analysis. The above methods are incorporated in a theoretical framework that concentrates on the following organizational variables concerning the respondents: (1) socialization into the organization, (2) knowledge of the organization, (3) perception and evaluation of organizational goals, and (it) commitment to the organization and the respondent's profession. Utilizing the above indices, preliminary investigation contends the organization exhibits both strengths and weaknesses. Its strong characteristics include economy of operation and rapid response to the external demands of enrollment. Weaknesses seem to include lack of formal socialization for faculty, low organizational knowledge, diffuse and highly general goals and goal perceptions, and lacking commitment producing mechanisms. The study raises questions concerning utilization of temporary work groups in educational organizations and has demonstrated Carnegie Commission figures that show a trend in the direction of usage of more part-time instructors in higher education. Avenues of further research are also suggested in the final chapter.



Houston Community College System