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Exploring University Presidents’ Decision-Making Processes Throughout Their Tenure in Office Open Access

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Exploring University Presidents’ Decision-Making Processes Throughout Their Tenure in Office This qualitative inquiry examined the research question: How do university presidents’ decision-making processes change during the “seasons” of their tenure in office (Hambrick and Fukutomi, 1991)? The study was guided by Hambrick and Fukutomi’s (1991) theory of the seasons of the CEO’s tenure and how these dynamic periods impacted the decision-making processes of university presidents. The research attempted to further the understanding of how a president’s tenure affects the decision-making processes through task interest, power, knowledge, information diversity, and commitment to a paradigm. The research utilized leadership, decision-making, succession and transition, life cycle, CEO/presidency, and university literature as its foundation and the results informed theory and practice regarding tenure, decision-making, and university presidents. The study offered five conclusions. (1) There appears to be a time when a presidency has outlived its effectiveness but the length is different for each president and it is difficult to identify during the presidency. (2) There appear to be signs of when a president has moved into a state of dysfunction. (3) There are no clear standards for success in the academic presidency and success can be perceived as a lack of failure. (4) Most change in a president’s paradigm and decision-making approach appears to occur early in their tenure and early success leads to confidence and potential entrenchment late in a tenure. (5) Decisions are rarely made with perfect information and consultation is essential for decision-making processes within complex organizations. The study offered recommendations related to theory, practice, and future research.

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