An integer goal programming approach to establishing faculty teaching schedules in colleges and universities

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1973

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This thesis initially aligns with the generally accepted posture that decision making within organizations is the selection among alternative courses of action in such a way as to optimize attainment of the organization's goals. Certain aspects of the decision making process are then studied in detail, particularly with respect to institutions of higher education as one type of organization. A general rationale of organizational goals is synthesized from constructs appearing in current literature on the subject. This generalized conceptual framework is shown to be applicable to institutions of higher education. In addition, a mathematical model of a decision process commonly occurring in higher education administration is developed. The model was constructed in such a way as to emphasize the attainment of institutional goals. Based on test data, a computer solution of the model was derived. The details of this solution are presented, as is an analysis of the solution. According to the generalized conceptual framework, the real goals of an organization become confused with vague public statements as to its objectives made by the organization's officials as well as with popular stereotypes of its objectives. Thus, the real goals may be difficult to distinguish, although some ad hoc means have been devised for doing so. The origins of an organization's real goals are generally agreed to be the personal value sets of its decision makers. Goal-setting is an iterative procedure whereby decision makers bargain among themselves for a tentative set of organizational goals. They then test this set against exogeneous constraints, such as those imposed by target groups, by technology, and by personnel and technological resources. If the tentative goal set violates any of these constraints, the procedure is reiterated until a feasible goal set is found. These general theoretical developments readily apply to higher education institutions, as well as to other organizations. When an organization's specific goals have been decided, its decision makers have the job of selecting a course of action from various alternatives in such a way as to optimize attainment of the goals. The establishment of faculty teaching schedules each term is an example of this type of situation. A very large number of configurations of faculty deployment to meet a given student demand for courses is possible. Yet some configurations more optimally approach the decision makers' goals than do others. Decision makers must select the optimal configuration. The goals of the faculty assignment model of this study are those characterized as 'ideal' by a random group of faculty members at the University of Houston College of Business Administration. Some of the goals conflict with others. This type of conflict often characterizes real life decisions. The decision model recognizes the conflict in that it does not seek to attain all goals absolutely but seeks to minimize deviations from the goals. Furthermore, the minimization process gives cognizance to the decision makers' preference hierarchy with respect to the attainment of the goals. Technically, the model is a goal programming model of the mixed-integer variety.

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