Effects of involvement, expectations, attitudes, and selected demographics on policy-making intentions among presidents and advancement officers of selected institutions

Paul Thomas Rhinehart

Abstract

Policy making in higher educational institutions is a notoriously complex process. Several factors inherent in the educational enterprise contribute to this complexity, including shared governance and multiple goals. The complexity of the policy-making process may lead to incoherent and destructive policy patterns. Thus, the purpose of this study was to improve the conceptualization of the processes which comprise higher education policy making. Specifically, this study examined higher education policy making by applying Ajzen and Fishbein's theory of planned behavior, expectancy-value theory, Grunig's situational communication theory, and other cognitive motivation and decision-making research. Other purposes of this study were to furnish information for improving communication and public relations, developing policy innovations, and assisting in persuasion and policy implementation. Based on cognitive motivation theory, it was proposed that (a) policy makers' intentions would be influenced by their attitudes and expectations (i.e., beliefs); (b) the relationships among the latter variables would be stronger for policy makers who were highly involved with the policy; (c) policy makers' expectations would be related to their involvement; and (d) involvement and expectations would be related to policy makers' demographics. The following expectations were examined: (a) expected external outcomes, (b) expected affective outcomes, (c) expected subjective norms, and (d) expected ability (i.e., self-efficacy). The population for the study were policy makers at public colleges and universities in selected Carnegie classifications in 15 southeastern states, who were members of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Officials were selected from the following occupational categories: state government relations, foundation/development, alumni affairs, president, and communications/public relations. Officials were mailed a survey asking their views for a specific state relations policy having to do with accountability and the use of performance measures in state funding proposals. Analyses were conducted using structural equation modeling (LISREL), ANOVAs, and Pearson correlations. Findings included the following: (a) policy makers' intentions were significantly influenced by their attitudes and expectations; (b) relationships among the latter variables did not differ significantly across subroups of varying involvement; (c) expectations were significantly related to involvement; (d) involvement was significantly related to various demographics.