How to Avoid Having Dysfunctional Departments

We have visited many campuses as external evaluators or consultants and have often noted that one or more of the academic units on campus are dysfunctional. Of course "dysfunctional" can mean many things. The dysfunctional units that seem to give administrators the most trouble are departments in which one or more faculty members are perceived by others as working at cross-purposes with collective agreements or programmatic activities. Frequently one or two people are very easily provoked, or one or two people are very provocative in their modes of interaction. (Those easily provoked and the provocative may be different individuals or one and the same person.) In any case, attention is periodically averted away from mission-critical activities to a roller-coaster crisis of the month.

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