Modeling Manifest and Latent Structures in a University: Understanding Resources and Dissent Dynamics
Using modeling and computer simulation, this research focuses on studying two different views to organizational design and their implications for performance in the context of academic institutions. One view represents the manifest structure that includes resources (students, faculty, administration, facilities, finances, partners, donors, etc.); the other view represents the latent structure that focuses on dissent. The dissertation addresses the following two questions; 1. What are the tangible dynamic interdependencies constituting the manifest structure within academic institutions and their impact on performance? 2. What is the impact of the latent structures composed of intangible organizational processes, especially dissent, on performance? The dissertation proposes generic system dynamics simulation models untangling the complexity of the topic by tackling various slices of the problem in separate papers. The models are based on three different theoretical frameworks addressing resources and their composition, dissent, and stakeholder engagement. It is observed that while both the manifest and the latent parts of the university organization impact its performance, the latent part, being invisible, is often ignored. In the long run, the influence of the latent part of the organization can slowly but seriously compromise intangible performances components like quality, reputation, and attractiveness. When the manifest part of the organization is dysfunctional, its tangible performance rapidly suffers. The damage control policies will often impact the latent organizational performance leading the institution into a vicious cycle. The presence of time delays in this framework may create an oscillatory behavior that might modulate a growth or decline trend. Performance measures addressing intangible performance components must be factored into the organizational design since faculty, students, and other stakeholders are not only driven by financial rewards, but also by the organizational environment. The research, besides addressing the important question of the role of latent elements in organization design and demonstrating this can be done using system dynamics modeling and computer simulation, should also be of value to the design and management of higher education institutions.