Not only did lecturers feel that they were poorly managed and had to use what they saw as unprofessional tactics to get the job done, equally officers were thought of as being managed poorly, as they were not equipped, trained or even competent enough to do their jobs. There was an over-powering feeling that it is all about who you know, not what you know, it was felt by lecturers that this ran from the lowest paid menial worker all the way up to the commander himself.
Many thought that officers were appointed based on family connections, or contacts in higher positions of that society. Many felt that this was true of the whole country, and all institutions and organisations were run a similar manner, especially with the governments focus on ’emiratisation’ which was trying to get a larger population of local Arabs into employment, so that the country was not so reliant on foreign manpower. Many of them needed to be trained by foreigners, but at the same time the local Arabs were given power in management positions over the more talented foreigners.
It was unfortunate that many of these local Arabs entering employment were ignored and business was running as usual around them as they were not trusted to effectively or competently carry out particular jobs, many of them were left sitting around all day drinking coffee. This was similar to the situation at the Technical studies Institute, where very small, simple tasks were given to these officers, they were often given management positions over the far more talented foreign staff, who in turn felt frustrated in not being given the authority to run the institute, which they felt could be run far more efficiently and effectively.
Students had some opportunities for reward (statement 15), unfortunately many of the prize giving ceremonies took place where disappointed lecturers were not invited, or informed even in those cases where lecturers were directly responsible for the subject area for which the students were being awarded. These ceremonies took place on the parade ground, in many cases before lectures, which began at 7:00 a. m. Once a year a graduation parade took place, which was universally attended and full of pomp and circumstance, with often nationally respected military dignitaries present.
It is a well rehearsed extravaganza and a strong example of the behavioural and visual expression of the organisational culture. Staff Development for lecturers was non-existent (statement 19), when I questioned a senior officer why this was so, the response I received was surprising, “we carefully select lecturers from overseas that have already received a wealth of training, if they needed any more development we wouldn’t employ them.
” Many western staff felt that there lack of training, especially in dealing with students quite new to the English language and secondly themselves being new to the Islamic culture often caused them problems which could have been eradicated with some staff development. The area of using technology in the classrooms was noticeably absent, lecturers were not encouraged to use these, even though facilities were available. Lecturers felt that the local Arabs were equally in dire need of training, especially in management and organisation skills, as these seemed to be the roles that they were entering.
Curriculum was another major worry, all lecturers responded to statement 20 as strongly disagreeing to seeing the curriculum being reviewed and updated regularly. After probing questions, I found that lecturers of the same subject area were not even communicating with each other, they would teach to the best of their abilities, modifying the curriculum independently, but this would not be a shared, coordinated effort, which was ironic, as I found that the lecturers wouldn’t even dream about working in this way in their previous jobs.
Many of the lecturers felt that examination results were probably the greatest indicator of what teaching was going on in TSI, and that the officers looked at these more closely than any other indicator of a lecturer’s performance. Lecturers thought that as students were paid a high salary to be at the college, it is easy to continuously fail exams, repeat a year and in a way make a career of failing exams, student’s salaries would not really be affected. Examinations would often test memory rather than skills.
Lecturers mentioned that this was the case as many students had just begun learning the English language. Others argued that exams were purposely made easy to indicate a high pass rate, at the cost of a good standard of education. Often well motivated students were taught by a select few lecturers that held doctorate or masters degrees who were chosen by officers. Lecturers felt that some of their colleagues had become very complacent and lazy, compromising on educational standards, as examination results could be easily passed or explained away.
A key issue was that of innovation, foreign lecturers strongly disagreed with statement 25 that innovation was highly valued. Lecturers claimed that many of the local officers would listen very carefully to fully understand new ideas and then discourage the idea based on ‘it wouldn’t be practical to implement at the TSI’, or say ‘the commander will not go for that here. ‘ Often the officers would then present the ideas as their own, to get recognition for ‘their abilities’ and hope for further power influence and promotion.
The foreign staff could see this going on, and some lecturers would play the game, as they new that if the officer receives more power and influence, they could use his new connections, power and influence for their own purposes. The officer is obviously impressed with the lecturers’ viewpoint, as he ‘stole’ his idea, presenting it as his own, and therefore would listen more keenly for any further ideas. Often ideas would be passed on with the lecturers’ own agenda in mind.
This worked well for some lecturers as there were no promotions, incentives or chances to develop (statements 27,29,50), they would never directly have influence or power over such things as curriculum, examinations, funding of facilities, distribution of workloads, choosing who the heroes of the organisation were, hiring, firing, etc. , except by manipulating influential officers. The ‘clever’ lecturers that were ‘in-with’ the officers seemed to get an easier ride, they even and had power over their colleagues. They often kept their cards very close to their chests and in some cases given the role of a section supervisor.
It was thought that these section supervisors were preventing communication directly from the lecturer to an officer and even the officers would prevent communication between lecturers and senior officers, or the commander, so that their own power and influence would be maintained in the eyes of their respective supervisors (statements 42-56). The most innovative ideas came from the lecturers, which went up this chain of command, but at each stage supervisors would take it and present it as their own ideas, consequently many of the lecturers would implement change, or improvements by themselves and keep it to themselves (statement 8).
Lecturers felt that the only real indication of their abilities would be highlighted in examination results, and then the senior officers would pay attention, and realise where the talent lay. Unfortunately many of the lecturers that had been there for a long time, and the officers they had influence over had arms that spread throughout the institution and often blinded the senior officers into thinking that good management skills were the reason that lecturers were performing so well and that the students were so successful.