A comparison of institutional climates in higher education in the United States and South Africa

Juanyce Deanna Taylor


Increasing opportunities and access of historically underrepresented populations to higher education in both the United States and South Africa have proved challenging due to institutional climates that are perceived as unwelcoming and unsupportive. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors relating to institutional climates to uncover social constructs that positively and negatively impact the institutional environment. Transformational leadership serves as the theoretical framework for this study. Data results from institutional climate studies administered higher education institutions in the United States and South Africa were analyzed and compared. Collegiality and collaboration; communication; diversity and equity; governance and strategy; harassment and discrimination; and organizational environment were the primary social constructs measured and evaluated at each institution. Results demonstrate differences in the perceptions of faculty and academic staff based on institution, race, gender, and academic rank. Findings provide academic leaders with cross-national strategies for creating inclusive academic environments and replicating excellence.