Organizational Fit of Non-Academic Administrators of Color at Small Liberal Arts Institutions
Yokley, Delight Bena
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Diversity has become a central organizational goal especially as the U.S. population is experiencing racial demographic shifts (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Employees of color makeup one-third of the workforce, yet higher education institutions have been slow to adjust to the shifting demographics (Birnbaum, 1988; Brown, 2004; Yancey, 2010). Higher education leaders are seeking ways to recruit and retain growing numbers of administrators of color working at their institutions. Available research focuses on organizational fit and faculty of color (Bozeman and Gaughan, 2011; Jackson, 2003b; Jayakumar et al., 2009; Ortega-Liston and Rodriguez Soto, 2014; Victorino et al., 2013) or examines organizational fit at research universities (Barrett and Smith, 2008; Gasman et al., 2011; Ryan et al., 2012; Turner et al., 2011). A review of the literature shows there is scarcity of scholarly knowledge on the experiences of administrators from historically minoritized groups with organizational fit at small liberal arts institutions. The purpose of this study was to understand and describe how administrators of color at small liberal arts institutions experience organizational fit. The conceptual framework for this study was Jackson's (2004a) Engagement, Retention, and Advancement (ERA) Model. The participants in the sample included Black/African American, Asian American, Native Hawaii/Pacific Islander, and Latina/o non-academic administrators from institutions with less than 2,500 students. Using a phenomenological design, I interviewed selected administrators twice using a modified version of Seidman's (2013) life history structure. Data analysis revealed six themes including the pathways into higher education, attraction to small liberal arts institutions, institutional culture, position empowerment, multiple hats/roles, and professional success. The findings suggest these administrators of color experience similar ERA processes as other administrators. These similarities include desiring to fit in, an on-going process of building trust, and enjoying the small family business environment of a small liberal arts institution. Unique findings included how participants valued their quality of life despite limited salaries at small liberal arts institutions. They also assimilated, code switched, and served as cultural guides, adding responsibilities to an already hard working group. Implications for higher education leaders concerning the importance of supporting administrators of color can be gleaned from these findings.
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