Many lecturers at the Technical Studies Institute would often sit together in their free time complaining about management, a management who has organised one of the easiest working days of an educational establishment, but also one of the highest paid jobs too. It is also curious that a noticeable group of these lecturers have been there for at least ten years. There was a need to find out the nature of complaints by so many lecturers, whether they were venting or did they have genuine reason for their complaints.
This study was to focus on the organisational culture of management at TSI, from the lecturers’ perspective. Hopefully to create a fuller understanding of the prevalent culture, then presenting findings to management indicating change is required, and/or highlight to staff that they are complaining unjustly. The Technical Studies Institute itself is a military college in the United Arab Emirates, governed by rules laid down from the armed forces General Head Quarters. TSI has the following mission statement :
‘The mission of the Technical Studies Institute is to train and produce academically and practically competent generations of national technicians in accordance with the most developed scientific techniques to operate and maintain the various equipment of the armed forces. ‘ This has been translated in practice into an institution that prepares students in achieving both internally set and external city and guilds qualifications in the fields of electrical and mechanical engineering.
Then successful students are passed on to a specialist training department to develop their practical skills on military equipment. All lectures are conducted in English, except their requirements of Islamic and Arabic classes. Some students go on to do a B. eng. programme from universities overseas such as UK, USA, Australia and some in the UAE itself (which even though have mainly lecturers from the previously mentioned countries are not considered as prestigious). The TSI is one of the units situated in a purpose built military city in the desert, approximately 80 km from the nearest city (Abu Dhabi).
There are about 1500 students ranging in age from 16 to 28 who are expected to stay on the military base during the week, and are allowed to visit their families on the weekends (Thursdays and Fridays). The older students are allowed to visit Abu Dhabi as a privilege during the evenings for a few hours. The staff at TSI comprise of an interesting mix of nationalities. Only UAE nationals (‘locals’) hold military officer status. They often hold administration and management jobs with a wide range of responsibilities from the mundane to the intricacies of running an institution.
United Kingdom citizens often hold academic advisory posts, section supervisor posts (with restricted powers contributing to the function of management) and mostly lecturing posts. Sudanese, Jordanian, Syrian, Palestinian citizens (and a few from other Arabic speaking countries) are well represented, they hold lecturing posts and technician posts in the main. Pakistani and Indian citizens generally hold technician posts and some curriculum design posts. Staff have living quarters in Abu Dhabi (80km away) or Dubai (150km away), and travel each day to and from work.
LITERATURE REVIEW. From the Business world, management is often defined as The attainment of organisational goals in an effective and efficient manner through planning, organising, leading and controlling organisational resources, (Daft 2000, p. 7) Where the four management functions are summarised as Planning: Setting goals for future performance and deciding ways in which to attain them; What tasks, What resources. Organising: Organising the tasks, grouping them into departments and allocation of resources to the departments.
Leading: Using influence to achieve the organisational goals, creating a shared culture and value system, communicating goals to the staff, motivate staff to perform at a high level. Controlling: Controlling staff activities, checking whether the organisation is on target with its goals, making corrections where necessary. This definition seems to be taken on-board when Everard and Morris, (1990) identify their five stages of educational management a. Setting direction, aims and objectives. b. Planning how progress will be made or a goal achieved.
Organising available resources (people, time, materials) so that the goal can be achieved in the planned way. d. Controlling the process (i. e. measuring achievement against the plan and taking corrective action where appropriate). e. Setting and improving organisational standards. It is interesting to notice a dichotomy here in that according to Everard and Morris, (1990), leadership is not encompassed within management, but is considered a distinct entity. Leadership is said to be related to vision and values and management to processes and structures.
A leader would have qualities such as being a visionary, passionate, creative, flexible, inspiring, innovative, courageous, imaginative, experimental, initiates change, have personal power. A manager would have qualities such as being rational, persistent, consulting, problem solving, tough-minded, analytical, structured, deliberate, authoritative, stabilising, have position power, (Capowski 1994). According to Schon, (1984), one can be a leader without being a manager, and a manager can manage without being a leader, but more often than not managers are expected to lead, and becomes acceptable to treat management and leadership as one.