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  • RESEARCH IN HIGHER EDUCATION, Vol. 2 1974 APS Publications, Inc.


    William E. Alexander and Joseph P. Farrell

    Department of Educational Planning, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Ontario

    The first part of this paper introduces a method for identifying the major patterns or trends of an institution. This method rests upon the identification of concrete deci- sions which are perceived as highly significant by individuals representing various segments of an institution. In the second part of the paper the method is applied to a recently established graduate school and research and development center. Five major institutional patterns which have characterized the development of this institution are identified and discussed: 1) democratization, 2) centralization of decision-making over research and development funds, 3) legitimation of development and implemen- tation activities, 4)growth, and 5) entrenchment.

    Finally, the relevance of the findings is discussed in reference to all institutions of higher education; institutions which are faced with demands for broader participation on the one hand and increasing accountability on the other.

    This paper deals w i th the prob lem of ident i fy ing the major trends or patterns

    of a total system. In the first part of the paper a methodo logy upon which the ident i f icat ion of total system patterns may rest is int roduced. The remainder

    deals with the appl icat ion of this sort of pat tern analysis to a novel academic

    inst i tut ion, a recently establ ished graduate school and research and deve lopment center.

    *The study upon which this paper is based was funded by the Research and Development Review Board, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Thanks are also due to Professors John Holland and Michael Skolnik for many valuable suggestions.


  • 342 Alexander and Farrell


    In our normal discourse we have frequent recourse to phrases such as, "The essense of this institution is . . . . " or "The main patterns of activity in this area are . . . . " In more academic communications we also use such phrases, as witness Alvin Gouldner's claim that " . . . the dominant drift of American Sociology to- day is compulsively bent upon transforming itself into a 'profession' " (Gouldner, 1965, p. 207; emphasis added).

    The use of such phrases signals an underlying understanding that there is order in the affairs of men, that behavior in social institutions is not wholly random, that such behavior is systematic or patterned. However, the use of such phrases also typically leaves one (especially if one has an empirical bent) with a sense of incompleteness and frustration. How does Gouldner know what is the "dominant drift" in a very large academic discipline? How would one verify (or try to falsi- fy) such a claim? While we generally agree that human behavior is patterned, it has proven quite difficult to develop means of identifying what the patterns are. Indeed, it is not altogether clear what one should be looking for when searching for patterns. Does one mean by patterns a set of complex (or even simple) var- iables which fit into axioms which will explain variations in specific system out- puts? Are major patterns simply those aspects of a system which have occupied the greatest amount of energy of the members of that system? Or are major patterns those which are somehow directing the fate of the system? Simply put, although "pattern" is a useful word, it is not clear as to what kinds of empirical referents it maps.

    Nonetheless, we have chosen to use the word pattern in this paper. By it we mean to indicate that we do believe that institutional behavior in any given per- iod of time tends to be focused on a limited set of concerns and that the practices and policies of an institution will go in certain directions and not in others. And we further believe that these patterns (or foci, or directions, if one prefers) can be identified. The actual analysis to be reported is further predicated on the assumption that in a given institution's life cycle, there are key decisions made which influence its direction, which set its patterns. It is through the identifica- tion and analysis of such key decisions that we identify the major patterns.

    This paper provides a simple and relatively straightforward approach to a pattern analysis of a social institution - an educational institution which func- tions both as a graduate school and a research and development center. The procedure used here for identifying organizational patterns begins, like all other procedures, with a selection mechanism for choosing the facts of the analysis. However, unlike most other selection mechanisms, the one used here is relatively well-defined. For here, the basic "facts" are the (thirteen) decisions perceived as most significant by formal authorities and association executives within an or- ganization. And, while it is possible to provide more than one interpretation of

  • Development Patterns in an A cademic Institute 343

    these "facts," the selection procedure, for better or worse, puts severe constraints

    on the analyst. Thus, the facts from which the patterns are induced are, relatively

    speaking, explicit and well-defined. There is thus an operational definition of the concept, patterns.


    The organization which has been analyzed is The Ontario Institute for Studies

    in Education (OISE). The 1973/74 Bultetin of the Institute gives this description

    (O1SE, 1973/74, p. 1): e

    The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education is a relative newcomer to the education- al scene. It was established in July 1965, by an Act of the Ontario Legislature, and is under an independent Board of Governors. Through statutory Agreement of Affilia- tion with the University of Toronto, it combines Graduate Education in Educational Theory, in the form of the Department of Educational Theory in the University's School of Graduate Studies, with functions as a research and development institute devoted to the scientific'study of the theory and practice of education. Students are University of Toronto graduate students proceeding to University of Toronto degrees.

    There are approximately 6,000 graduate students at the University of Toronto, 1,863 of whom are at the Institute. Of the latter, 448 are registered as fu][1-time students, 228 of these being Ph.D. candidates. During the 1972 summer session at OISE, there were 1,254 registered students The growth of the Institute has been rapid during the six years since its inception; the staff now numbers 653, including some 140 members of academic staff. With the fast-growing and developing educational system in Ontario, there has been ample opportunity to study and implement new ideas and to refine old ones. The overall goal of the Institute is to make a positive contribution to improve- ment in education. In the long run, one of the most effective ways in which this goal can be achieved is through OISE graduates implementing their knowledge and exper- ience within existing educational systems.

    To the above can be added two points. First, OISE consists of ten academic

    departments: Adult Education, Applied Psychology, Computer Applications,

    Curriculum, Educational Administration, Educational Planning, History and

    Philosophy, Measurement and Evaluation, Sociology in Education, and Special Education.

    Second, the OISE emphasis on research and development has been unusually

    strong for a North American educational institution. The expected teaching load has been one or two courses per year. Perhaps, to the academic, the .best indica- tor of OISE's relative emphasis on research and development activities is reflected by the number of research assistants and secretaries. There are, at the current time, l 11t research assistants. This means that, on the average, each academic

    gets almost 80% of the time of a research assistant. Each academic, on the aver- age, also receives about 60% of the time of a secretary, a junior secretary, or a

    1 These data were obtained in the fall of 1973.

  • 344 Alexander and Farrell

    stenographer. Another indicator of the heavy research and development empha- sis is the fact that the amount of money (exclusive of academic salaries) made available in 1973/74 for research and development activities averages out to more than $12,000 per full-time academic.


    As noted in the first section of this paper, the pattern analysis used here rests upon the identification and analysis of a set of key decisions. In order to obtain a list of important decisions, 50 informants within the Institute were contacted during 1969 and 1970. These informants included all formal authorities (depart- ment chairmen, senior administrators, unit heads, etc.), all association heads (chairmen of the Association of Research Officers, Academic Council, etc.), and a handful of others (faculty, students, etc.) who were reputed to be influential and/or knowledgeable about OISE.

    As part of an informal interview, each respondent was asked, among other things, to provide us with a list of decisions which he viewed as the most signif- icant in the history of OISE.2 These lists provided us with a set of 184 unique decisions. In order to reduce the population to a manageable number, a series of screening rules were applied.

    While scholars have suggested various screening rules (Freeman, 1968; Bloom- berg and Sunshine, 1963; Blankenship, 1947, Dahl, 1961; Wiley, 1967), Freeman's rules appear to be the most detailed, and though they pertain to decisions taken in a community, they are, with modifications, most appropriate to the organiza- tion under study. Seven of Freeman's rules refer to the selection of individual de- cisions. 3 They are (Freeman, 1968, pp. 17-18).

    1. Each issue must have been at least temporarily resolved by a decision. 2. The decisions must be perceived as important by informants representing

    diverse segments of the community. 3. The decision must pertain to the development, distribution, and utilization

    of resources and facilities which have an impact on a large segment of the metropolitan population.

    4. The decision must involve alternative lines of action. The decisions must entail a certain degree of choice on the part of participants; the outcome must not be predetermined.

    5. The decision must be administered rather than "market type." For this study, an administered decision was defined as one made by individuals

    2 The respondent was permitted to name any decision, by any party, agency, or organization. No constraints were placed on the respondent.

    ~Freeman also presents criteria which an entire set of selected decisions should meet. It was not necessary to invoke these in the present study, and they are therefore not discussed.

  • Deve lopment Patterns in an Academic Inst i tute 245

    holding top positions in organizational structures which empowered them to make decisions affecting many people. (Later, we take account of those who influence the decisions of these administrators.)

    6. The decision must involve individuals and groups resident in the Syracuse metropolitan area. Decisions (such as governmental decisions) made out- side the metropolitan area but affecting the metropolitan area were excluded.

    7. The decision must fall within the time period 1955-1960.

    Clearly, some modifications are required in order to make the rules consistent with OISE's situation. For example, the sixth must be changed to read: "The decisions must involve individuals and groups within OISE."

    The seventh must be changed to read: "The decisions must fall within the time period 1965 - January 1970." This time period begins with the formal establish- ment of OISE and ends with the beginning of this research project.

    Of the original 184 decisions, 46 were eliminated by the application of three of the aforementioned rules. Twenty-one were made prior to l:he establishment of OISE (rule 7), 19 could not be identified with any specific individual, associa- tion, agency, or organization (they were "market type" decisions - rule 5), and 6 were clearly decisions made outside of OISE (rule 6). The most important re- duction occurred with the application of rule 2: "The decisions must be perceived as important by informants representing diverse segments of the community." This rule was operationalized by referring to the opinions of representatives of the following 4 groups:

    1) 11 knowledgeable faculty members, including 5 who had served as chair- men of the Academic Council, an organization which was OISE's version of a university senate; 4

    2) 5 active students including 2 former chairmen of the Graduate Students' Association;

    3) 10 department chairmen (one, however, had also served as Chairman of the Academic Council, and his views were categorized under "knowledgeable faculty");

    4) 5 senior administrators.

    To be included in the study, a decision had to be viewed as significant by at least 1 member of 3 or more of these categories. Of the 138 decisions left in the pool after the application of rules 5, 6, and 7, only 13 met this rule. s This was rather surprising since each respondent was permitted to name as many decisions as he

    4Under a new internal governing structure the Academic Council has been replaced by a widely representative Institute Assembly.

    SThese 13 also met the other three decision rules.

  • 346 Alexander and Farrell

    wished, with most naming between 5 and 8. Table I identifies these decisions and

    indicates the number from each respondent category who nominated the decision

    as significant. As can be seen, the most "popular" decision was nominated by 21

    of 30 respondents while the least frequently ment ioned decision received only 6

    nominat ions.


    The 13 decisions which were designated as highly significant according to the

    perceptions of selected Institute members are listed below in chronological order:

    1. Appointment and Promotion - The decision by Academic Council to recommend "that the sole criterion for appoint- ment and promotion to and within academic ranks be scholarly achievement" and "that ordinarily such achieve- ment will be evidenced by suitable publication."

    2. Department Chairman Tenure - The decision by Academic Council to recommend that a Department Chairman's tenure of office be limited to four years, renewable.

    3. Sociology in Education - The decision by Academic Council to approve and recommend the establishment of a Depart- ment of Sociology in Education.

    4. Research Review Board - The decision by Academic Council to recommend the establishment of a Research Review Board.

    5. Program Budget - The decision by Academic Council to broaden participation in internal budgeting procedures through the use of a program budget format.

    6. New Building - The decision by the Board of Governors to build a new OISE building.

    7. Development Review Board - The decision by Academic Council to recommend the establishment of a Develop- ment Review Board.

    8. Task Force - The decision to establish the Task Force.

    9. Assistant Director - The decision by the Director to recommend the appointment of a department chairman to the post of Assistant Director.

    10. Field Centers - The decision by the Academic Council to approve in principle and recommend the establishment of Field Centers throughout the Province.

    11. Department of Special Education - The decision by Academic Council to approve and recommend the estab- lishment of a Department of Special Education.

    12. Merger of Research and Development Coordinatorships - The decision by the Academic Council to approve and recommend the merging of the offices of the Coordina-

    (Fall 1968)

    (Nov. 9, 1966)

    (Jan. 11, 1967)

    (Feb. 22,1967)

    (Mar. 8,1967)

    (Oct. 11, 1967)

    (Oct. 12, 1967)

    (Feb. 14,1968)

    (FN1 1968)

    (Sept. 26, 1968)

    (Nov. 27, 1968)

    (Jan. 15,1969)

  • Development Patterns in an Academic Institute 347

    tor of Research and the Coordinator of Development into a single office of Research and Development.

    13. Departmental Guidelines - The decision by the Academic Council to approve and recommend acceptance of the Guidelines for Departmental Decision-Making.

    (Apr. 9,1969)

    (Nov. 12,1969)

    The 13 decisions, together with the respondents' succinct statements indicat- ing the significance of each decision, constitute the "basic facts" of this pattern analysis. In addition, considerable information was gathered in order to fill in the details of these decisions The minutes of appropriate meetings were read as well as many speci~tl reports, memos, and other relevant documents. E. H. Carr has said, "The history we read, though based on facts, is strictly speaking, not factual at all, but a series of accepted judgments" (1967, p. 14). Here, too, the themes to be presented are not solely factual, but include a series of judgments.

    The 13 decisions were interpreted as pointing to 5 dominant themes or pat- terns, most of which are easily translatable into variables or continua. The dis- cussion around each theme will, when possible, develop three aspects of the pattern: 1. Describe the " fac ts" . . . the decision(s) in the context of the theme. 2. Present information which can be construed as evidence that the Institute is moving in the direction indicated by the pattern analysis. 3. Present decisions which are relevant to the theme but were not viewed as "highly significant."

    The 13 decisions are grouped into the following 5 patterns (the number of decisions on which each theme is based are in parentheses): 1. democratization (4); 2. centralization of decision-making over research and development funds (3); 3. legitimation of development and implementation (3); 4. growth (2); and 5. entrenchment (1).


    Four of the 13 decisions reflect a pattern toward democratization. First, in January 1967, the Academic Council passed a resolution which recommended that a department chairman's tenure of office be limited to four years and be renewable for one additional term. Prior to 1967 the policy was to permit chairmen to serve as long as they desired. A Grandfather clause was built into the 1967 decision but, after a time, all chairmen agreed to abide by the new pot- icy. At this writing, only one of the chairmen who were in office in January 1967 still holds a chairmanship. Most of those who nominated the tenure deci- sion as significant described it as a major step toward a new form of government, primariliy in terms of democratization and increased accountability. A chairman wishing to serve a second term must undergo an evaluation conducted by mem- bers of his department.

    The second significant decision in the democratization pattern was the Octo-

  • 348 Alexander and Farrell








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    ber 1967 decision by the Academic Council to broaden participation in internal budgeting through the use of a program budget format. While faculty throughout North America are beginning to realize that in order effectively to exercise power it is necessary to gain substantial control over the allocation of funds, OISE fac- ulty were among the first to try a complete implementation of this principle. The then new program budget format, which was intended to make policy decisions explicit in dollars and cents terms, was seen by OISE staff as an ideal instrument for providing large groups access to financial and, therefore, policy decision-mak- ing. Few of those who nominated the decision feel that the experiment effectively enhanced democratization but it is clear that broader participation was attempted. Further, although there have been numerous modifications in budgeting format and procedure since 1967, the basic notion that budgeting will be done program- matically has become thoroughly entrenched in the institution.

    The decision made in the fall of 1968, to establish a task' force with the func- tion of proposing a new organizational structure, is the third significant decision in the democratization pattern. The task force itself consisted of several constit- uencies. The composition was defined as follows: two members of the Academic Council, one member of the Administrative Council, the Assistant Director, two members of the Graduate Students' Association, one member of the Association of Research Officers, one other member of the professional staff, and one mem- ber of the Board of Governors.

    The final report from the task force made a number of recommendations, the most dramatic one being the change in the composition of the major policy rec- ommending body. The Academic Council, which then claimed the distinction of initiating most major policy statements, consisted only of faculty. In its plan, a new body, to be called a Senate, was proposed. The proposed membership was as follows: 45 members in total, of whom 14 (less than one-third) would be aca- demics, 8 would be students, with the remainder to be divided among other internal and external constituencies (research assistants, professional staff, secre- taries, members of the Board of Governors, etc.).

    The "Report of the Task Force" (1969)was followed by a "Report of the Special Committee of the Board of Governors" (1969) which was followed by the "Report of the Joint Committee on Institute Structure" (1971). The Joint Committee Report recommended that the Board of Governors and the Academic Council be merged into a single governing body called the Institute Council. The Council would comprise 70 elected members, 17 (24%) of whom would be from academic staff while 14 (20%) would be Institute students. As a result of these deliberations, the Academic Council voted itself out of existence in 1971, and was replaced by an Institute Assembly whose membership includes faculty mem- bers, students, professional staff, general support staff (secretaries, clerks, etc.), academic support staff (research officers), plus external members. Faculty mem- bers comprise less than one-quarter of this Assembly. This body, plus a wide array

  • Deve lopment Patterns in an A cademic Inst i tute 351

    of broadly representative standing committees, govern the Institute in conjunc- tion with the Board of Governors. A thorough review of the operation of this system was carried out in 1973. Although a number of changes will likely be made, the basic principle of a widely representative governing body, on which faculty members constitute a distinct minority, has not been powerfully criticized and will almost certainly continue to be reflected in the central governance of OISE.

    The fourth decision under the democratization theme is Academic Council's (November 1969) approval of the "Policy Guidelines for Decision-Making in Academic Departments," a decision which was approved by the Board of Gov- ernors and implemented in all departments. This policy decrees that individuals affected by decisions have the n~t to full participation in those decisions. This includes students and staff (research assistants, secretaries, etc.) as well as faculty. Departments were required to reorganize their governing structure in order to accommodate all staff and students within the department, and this reorganiza- tion had to be legitimized by "the majority of those voting in a separate, inde- pendent ballot of each category of members of the department."

    Centralization of Decision-Making Over Research and Development

    During the first years of the Institute's operation, departments had maximal autonomy. They had control over all research and development funds, which amounted to more than 50% of the budget. Further, departmental budgets were not available to other departments, and chairmen were not accountable to their departmental members. In fact, the allocation of funds was a private matter be- tween senior administrators and department chairmen. Only in the third year of OISE's operation did the allocation to one department become known to other chairmen.

    Departmental autonomy over research and development activities was first challenged in March of 1967 when the Academic Council passed a resolution call- ing for the establishment of a centralized Research Review Board consisting of five faculty. This Board was to have no flmding power of its own but was intend- ed to have a veto power over projects. Proposals not approved by the Board were, theoretically, not permitted to be funded by the departments. In actual practice, however, the Board operated in an advisory capacity to many departments rather than as decision-maker. About a year later the Academic Council passed a motion which called for the establishment of a Development Review Board with much the same function and modeled along lines similar to the Research Review Board.

    A decision which is not included in the list of 13 but which is often discussed (and confused) as part of the two "former" decisions was the March 1968 deci- sion to provide the Review Boards with a limited amount of money. The money came from the departments, on a voluntary basis, in the form of a small but fixed

  • 352 Alexander and Farrell

    percentage of their budgets. Only departments that contributed to the pools were eligible to compete for the money.

    Many of those persons who perceived the establishment of the Research and Development Boards as significant decisions argued that OISE had a stake in ap- proving a staff member's activities. The Boards, they said, provided review, eval- uation, and quality control. One academic claimed that the Boards reduced his freedom to define his own research and made him accountable to a group of his peers.

    In September 1968, a decision was made to appoint an assistant director. The inclusion of this decision is based on the remarks of formal authorities who claimed that the significant consequences of the decision were to "strengthen the leadership at the top levels," establish formal lines of authority, and "increase centralization of power and, along with it, increase efficiency." The assistant director was perceived as a strong proponent of centralized control over research and development and his appointment to the Office of Assistant Director was viewed as support for this position.

    In the years since 1970, centralized research and development review boards have become institutionalized. These bodies (which are themselves broadly rep- resentative) now have complete control over the allocation of all internal Insti- tute funds for research and development activities, and also must approve all externally funded projects before money can be accepted and work begun. Thus, the pendulum has swung about as far as it can go in the direction of centraliza- tion. The departments have given up most of their authority over research and development and virtually 100% of their research and development budget to central authorities.

    Legitimation of Development and Implementation

    As previously stated, OISE in its early years provided chairmen with total authority,for the approval and funding of projects within their departments. So strong was department authority that interdepartmental projects were extremely difficult to mount, and interdisciplinary programs with no departmental affilia- tion were nearly impossible to launch.

    For a number of reasons, research and development interests clashed from the beginning. Research and development activities were more often viewed as com- peting rather than complementary, and faculty and project directors were often categorized as belonging to one or another camp.

    In those first years the research orientation was clearly dominant. The battle lines, however, were drawn early. In November 1966, Academic Council recom- mended to the Board of Governors that an appointments and promotion policy be adopted. The recommendation suggested " . . . that the sole criterion for

  • Development Patterns in an Academic Institute 353

    appointment and promotion to and within academic ranks be scholarly achieve- ment . .. [and] . . . that ordinarily such achievement will be evidenced by suitable publication." The document went on to provide criteria for promotion through developmental activities as well, but its emphasis on research activities created considerable feelings of distress among many academics, particularly those concerned with development and teaching. One department chairman (interviewed as part of our general study) angrily labeled the document as "reactionary" and claimed that the recommendation, if implemented, would completely prevent the Institute from meeting its development objectives. The force and conviction of this chairman's views seem all the stronger when one considers that the Appointment and Promotion Committee recommendation was not accepted by the Board of Governors and, further, that the interview with him took place four years after the Academic CounciI's recommendations.

    A second decision in the priority domain is the decision to establish Field Cen- ters throughout the province. Like the appointment and promotion document this decision focuses on the relative emphasis on research or development rather than on the location of decisions. The establishment of the field center principle was described by a large number of students, department chairmen, Academic Council chairmen, and senior administrators as an increased and concrete com- mitment to the field and, according to several of these respondents, represented a significant commitment to expand tile development activities within OISE. There now exist eight field centers spread throughout the province.

    The last significant decision having implications for the research or develop- ment priority pattern is the April 1969 decision to combine two independent financial units into a single one: the merging of the office of the Coordinator of Development and the office of the Coordinator of Research into one Coordinator- ship, the office of the Coordinator of Research and Development. Concomitant with this decision was a decision to establish a separate office of Coordinator of Field Development, with responsibility for the field centers and other activities which involve implementation of research results in schools. According to several senior administrators who nominated this decision, the major justification was a desire for a closer relationship between research and development, on the one hand, and a desire to permit field development (i.e., implementation) to become a separate activity which, as one administrator put it, "could proceed unshack- led."

    These two coordinators' offices have been in existence for several years now as entities with separate financial and administrative identifies. Development and implementation activities have now achieved a solid place high on the Institute's list of priorities. Research and development are now generally treated as comple- mentary rather than competitive (especially in the process of central budget allocation). However, there is still a question of the relative priority of research and development versus field development cum implementation activities. Thus

  • 354 Alexander and Farrell

    although the question of priorities has been settled on one front, it remains on the other. 6


    Two decisions were interpreted as evidence that rapid growth was a major pattern. First, in February 1967, the Academic Council recommended the establishment of a Department of Sociology. In January 1969, the Council recommended the establishment of a Department of Special Education. Both recommendations were approved by the Board of Governors.

    It must be admitted that placing these two decisions under "growth" was somewhat arbitrary. Clearly, a good case could be made for categorizing these under a theme called, "Response to Education Manpower and Research Needs" or one called "Specialization" or even "Decentralization." However, it was de-

    cided to place these decisions under growth because of the view taken by most respondents, i.e., the decisions were generally viewed in terms of increased re- sources.


    Only one decision is listed in this category - the October 1967 decision by the Board of Governors to build a new building in whichto house OISE. The existence of an expensive building required a long term commitment by the government. Therefore, in the words of one administrator, "O.I.S.E. became institutionalized."

    The new OISE building is an office style structure, twelve floors high. It is located in downtown Toronto on an extraordinarily expensive piece of real es- tate. Several reasons are given for the location, but the major ones are its proximity to the University of Toronto and, in particular, to the University's new Graduate Research Library - four blocks from OISE. Without making aes- thetic judgments, one can say that its architectural style is sufficiently unique to permit one to distinguish it from the conventional style office buildings that line Toronto's Bloor Street. Now that the taxpayers' age o f innocence has passed no longer is education viewed as a sacred cow - the location and unique structure

    6 Another relevant phenomenon in this area is a change in the way in which research-devel- opment-dissemination funds are provided to the Institute. In its early days OISE received an annual "block grant" from the provincial Ministry (then Department) of Education. These funds were then allocated internally. Over the past few years, starting in 1971, the size of this "block grant" has been steadily reduced, with an increasing share of the research funds coming in the form of specific contracts or grants to projects approved directly by the Min- istry. This can be seen as an attempt by The Ministry (largely successful!) to gain greater con- trol over the research and development priorities of the Institute, and focus more of the Institute's efforts on policy problems seen as relevant by the Ministry.

  • Development Patterns in an Academic Institute 355

    of the OISE building increases its visibility. A few years ago such visibility might have made the average Ontario taxpayer proud. He would have turned to his visitor, just in from the U.S. or U.K., and proudly said, "See that magnificent edifice; it is dedicated solely to educational research and graduate studies. Bet you don't have anything like that back home." Today, however, all that has changed. "The news- paper that cares" (that's what the Toronto Telegram called itself) referred to the OISE building as % $60,000,000 soulless monster" (October 20, 1970). 7 The University of Toronto student paper, The Varsity, called the building " . . . a palatial $60 million building on Bloor Street+ ''s Whether or not this very large, very expensive, and very visible institution can survive the current purge of the public sector, and the educational sector in particular, remains to be seen. However, it is worth noting that the Institute budget, the number of staff, and the number of students have all grown annually since its inception, although rates of increase have decreased over the past few years, and the best available forecasts suggest that i t will reach an essentially "steady state" condition within the next half-decade.


    Ten of the thirteen decisions listed as the most significant in the history of OISE can be seen as contributing to these major organizational patterns, patterns which have developed simultaneously: democratization, cen'tralization, and the legitimation of development and implementation. First, like universities through- out North America and, indeed, most of the world, OISE has moved toward democratization. It has, however, moved much more rapidly, more boldly, and further in the direction of democratization, at least as reflected in its formal structures, than most comparable institutions (Dykes, 1968; Keeton, 197l; Morison, 1970) (although it does not always seem so to those trying to work within the sturcture). At the same time, there has been a dual pattern developing with respect to the Institute's most expensive activities, research and develop- ment. Decision-making over these activities has become more and more central- ized white, at the same time, there has been a substantially stronger emphasis on development and on practical, relevant, Ontario-oriented research. 9

    7 in fact, the building was erected for $17 million, but payment of interest and principal over 40 years will amount to about $60 million. ++ Indeed, in the rest of the university it is referred to jokingly as the "Taj Ma O1SE."

    9This move was so obvious to some that one highly respected academic actually tried to get a portion of research and development funds set aside for "pure research." Only a few years ago academics would have had a struggle to get money for development or applied research. Some departmgnts are trying to shape the direction of the research and aevelopment activities of departmental members by requiring that research and development proposals be approved by the department before they can be submitted to the centralized review boards.

  • 356 Alexander and Farrell

    Developments which have taken place since the construction of the decision list suggest that the pendulum has swung almost as completely toward the central- ized control of research and development as is possible. A small group of elected individuals sit in the research and development review boards and decide on prior- ities as well as whether or not projects are methodologically sound. Thus, with the exception of academic salaries, all of the personnel and financial support for research and development activities have been removed from the departments and placed into the hands of centralized bodies

    It seems clear that the single democratization decision which promised to ex- pose the greatest number of people to the art of decision-making was the adoption of the Policy Guidelines for Decision-Making in Academic Departments. Ironically, implementation of this policy came at a time when the last vestige of departmental authority over research and development activities was being handed over to more centralized units. Thus, while departmental members - students, research assistants, secretaries, and faculty - had finally gained access to their department chairmen and were in a strong position to exert influence, these chairmen no longer had the formal power to shape the direction of their own de- partments. The assumption underlying the Guidelines that (1969, p. 1):

    all categories of staff and students [have] the right to participate and to exercise leadership in the decision-making processes affecting the objectives, policies, staff and programs of their department . . . .

    can only sound like hollow phrases to those who truly expected to shape their departments from within. This is not to say that departmental democratization is an illusion. All it means is that for the time being, at least, meaningful participa- tion in decisions which will give final approval to department research and devel- opment activities will have to take place through representatives at a central level.

    The dramatic move toward centralization coupled with the legitimation of development and dissemination activities is the core of the Institute's response to external demands for relevance. The Institute has been under attack by a variety of groups since its inception, but the crescendo has been building at an exponen- tial rate late in the 1960's. In December of 1969, Barry Lowes, the Metro Toronto School Board Chairman, charged " . . . he has yet to hear anyone say a good thing about the Institute . . . . other trustees agreed" (Toronto Daily Star, December 3, 1969). A Toronto Globe andMail article, December 5, 1969, stated:

    .. OISE succeeds in conveying the general impression that it is gravely out of balance; that it has become a haven for those whose interest does not reach beyond satisfying their own academic hunger. When urgent problems clamor for attention in the heart of the city can we afford $10-miUion a year to enable academics to pur- sue their own thing?

  • Development Patterns in an A cademie Institute 35 7


    The founding and rapid growth of OISE coincided with the epoch period of contemporary education in Ontario, the great educational expansion of the 1960's. These were years when journalists and scholars alike were in general agreement that rising educational expenditures were contributing to increased productivity, lower unemployment rates, and more tolerable distributions of wealth and income. OISE was only one among the new educational institutions that were the products of that period, a period which also witnessed the estab- lishment of twenty Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and four new universities in the Province of Ontario.

    The creation of these new institutions and the expansion of old ones may be described as "institutionalizing" the behavior associated with the optimistic (or at least permissive) mood of the Ontario public during the 1960's. More specific- ally, the establishment of those institutions as physical entities may be said to have institutionalized (i.e., regulated the behavior of) educational expenditure and educational participation rates in Ontario by attempting to fix the rates achieved during the period of great expansion as the minimum rates for the future.

    The 13 decisions examined here can be described as unique to OISE. The decision-organizational patterns which emerge, however, are common not only to other post-secondary educational institutions, but also to many other organiza- tions in the public sector and many not-for-profit institutions. In the particular case of OISE, institutionalization may be viewed as a strategy dictated by the foresight of the proponents of high levels of support in Ontario for graduate stud- ies and research and development in education. Like most other public educa- tional enterprises in North America, OISE has been for several years facing increasing demands for accountability and responsiveness. With countless other universities, research institutions, and whole educational systems, it is learning that the institutionalization of large scale activities comes at some cost. Meeting the increased demands for accountability and responsiveness is a major part of that cost.

    Increasing demands for accountability and responsiveness are appropriately described as pressures from outside. The centralization of research and develop- ment in OISE (more accurately, the centralization of the allocation of research and development funds) permitted a rapid shift in emphasis toward development and toward the selection of research projects which, hopefully, will have greater relevance for pedagogical tactics and educational policy in the short run.

    In support of the notion that the increased demands for accountability and responsiveness were part of a general shift in the external environment of OISE

  • 358 Alexander and Farrell

    and other educational and non-educational institutions in Canada, it is appro- priate to note two important developments in 1968. In that year program budgeting became a requirement of every department of government in Ontario. Program budgeting is only a particular approach to systems analysis, an approach depend- ent upon the abstraction of a complex organization as a system of resource flows and evaluated outputs, and one which may well be exploited to improve almost any aspect of system management. It was clear in 1968 in Ontario, however, that the promise of program budgeting most to be emphasized was improved central- ized (provincial) control of government services to "limit" rising expenditures and promote "efficiency." In that same year the Economic Council of Canada began its first sustained efforts at promoting the construction of social indicators, the multidimensional measurements of a nation's well-being that are the concep- tual complements to program budgeting in an all-inclusive approach to economy, efficacy, and efficiency in the public sector.

    Reorienting a large, complex institution to accommodate a changing political environment is a challenge to administrative leadership, but not an extraordinary one. However, when those environmental changes are accompanied by equally challenging internal pressures to adapt, reorient, and reorganize, the resultant challenge to leadership has frequently been overwhelming in educational insti- tutions. The tenure of highest ranking administrators at OISE does not suggest that these combined pressures have been perceived as overwhelming in that institution.

    In misleadingly simple terms, the internal pressures at OISE may be described as demands for democratization of both policy-making and certain aspects of administration. It is somewhat more indicative of the problems involved to say that in accommodating the external pressures for reorganization, different per- ceptions of individuals within OISE as to the salient problems facing the educa- tional establishment in the province had to be considered and in some cases accommodated. Moreover, once this type of internal accomodation begins, it soon becomes apparent that not only must the institution involved accommodate a variety of perceptions of what is and what ought to be, but also it is con- strained in its responses by a multitude of ideas on how things got to be the way they are and why things develop as they do. Experiments in policy-making and in administration at OISE that have resulted from efforts to accommodate a rapidly changing environment and pressures for democratization at the same time have been alluded to in this paper. It is probable that they are among the boldest experiments in collective decision-making yet attempted in North American universities or comparable institutions.

    At one time public administration was a very mysterious process that could only be the responsibility of princes and properly sanctioned officials. The mystery has been swept away through a series of revolutionary and evolutionary steps toward democratization. As a result, public officials and politicians can

  • Development Patterns in an Academic Institute 359

    expect neither to be free of criticism for long, not even to be secure in their office. Similarly, until a very few years ago, policy making for institutions of higher learning was an esoteric, mysterious process that even the majority of professors could not hope to fathom, to say nothing of students, support staff, and laymen. For better or for worse, the running of universities and other educa- tional institutions has now been reduced to a set of activities that associate professors, stenographers, and students "understand" very welt. No administrator, no scholar, no governor can expect to achieve such status that his judgments will be accepted in all cases. He may never expect that his administrative abilities or his political instincts will not be subject to criticism. Under these conditions of internal stress and a changing politicial environment, the prospects for the surviv- al of institutions of post-secondary education, particularly the newer ones, as autonomous organizations with dependable revenue sources, remains a matter for conjecture.

    The recapitulation of policy-making in the short history of OISE presented in this paper is an effort to give meaning to past events by analyzing current per- ceptions of people directly involved with, and affected by, the shaping of these events. One of the novel features of the approach used in this paper is the reliance on these current perceptions as a basis for developing the list of patterns which have been presented. It is often said that in order to understand the present it is necessary to understand the past. The methodological assumption of this study, however, is that in order to understand the past it is necessary to understand something of the present. The question is, "How do we decide which events from the past are worthy of our attention?" The position of this study is that our choice is influenced not only by the accumulation of yesterdays but by the ways in which we define and evaluate our world of today. Our historical view is determined not merely through the systematic disclosure of yesterday's events but by those peculiar contemporary forces which focus and shape today's mem- ory and mind. The fact that the patterns identified in 1970, using this approach, have maintained themselves in the development of OISE subsequent to 1970, sug- gests that the approach itself is basically sound.


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