Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Roger G. Baldwin


The purpose of this study was to clarify the structure of information systems employed by trustees in higher education and to evaluate the relationships of these systems to decision-making. Communication and organizational theories characterizing the role of informal and formal information used by policy makers and top management in organizational decision-making provided the framework for this study. Studies of top-level corporate executives (Adams 1975; Quinn 1980; Jones and McLeod 1986) revealed executives' strong preferences for and substantial use of information from informal channels for planning and decision-making. These theories were integrated with the research of Ingram (1980) and Schmidtlein (1977) concerning information source use by trustees in higher education governance.;Trustees from a small public college and a small private college comprised the sample for this study. The 25 trustees who participated in the research had served at least one academic year on their respective college boards. A biographical questionnaire requesting certain demographic data was given to the study participants. Individual interviews asking the trustees to specify the sources of information they use when making decisions for their institution were conducted.;Frequencies and percentages were calculated to identify distinctive patterns of informal and formal information source use by trustees. Results illustrate similar preferences and use of informal information in decision-making by the trustees and senior executives. The study's findings verify that informal information plays an important role in the decision processes of trustees in higher education. Notable differences in information source use were identified among trustees from the public college and the private college.;Further systematic study and development of a theory describing the role of informal information in decision processes of trustees is needed in order to fully explain all aspects of trusteeship and governance of colleges and universities.



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