К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №4 - 2007
Автор: Новицкая Ю.В.
As we entered
the twenty first century, the major forces of a larger societal environment are
reshaping the nature of postsecondary education. Competition, which is
primarily an element of business world, has become one of the major issues to
consider while governing institutions of higher education. The major forces
that shape the competition within postsecondary education industry are similar
to those that influence competition in a business world and as follows: the
threat of entry into industry by new organizations, the bargaining power of
suppliers (students clientele), the bargaining power of customers (employers,
funding sources), and the threat of substitute services (Peterson & Dill,
1997). A very important role in competing with other universities in terms of
attracting best faculty and quality applicants is assigned to university image.
is organizational image? Organizational
image or reputation is a reflection of an organization over time as seen through
the eyes of its stakeholders such as customers, investors, employees and the
media, among others, who consider such factors as: product quality, management,
financial performance, social responsibility and market leadership. It is similar
to organizational identity, which can be described as “shared understanding of
what the organization is all about and how it should operate” (Berg, 1985. p.
positions image somewhere between a belief and attitude. He says: “Image is
power. Few would deny having a positive image in the marketplace is an asset.
Of course image, by itself is useless unless backed up with reality of quality
products and service.” Bob Topor in his “Institutional Image: How to Define,
Improve, Market It” says that an institutional image “consists of many
individual sets of perceptions in the minds of its constituents. Your
constituents, of course, are many – the alumni, faculty, students, donors,
legislators, staff members, and the general public, etc. Each of these constituents
– past, present, future –has formed, or will form, an image based on many
Why is it so
important to know what your school’s image is? There are many possible
answers to this question. The immediate response to this question may be to help
in recruitment and retention. Understanding how your university is perceived by
the key audiences such as potential students, parents, counselors and alumni
and internally by admission advisors, faculty, staff and key administrators can
supply you with the powerful information to assist in recruitment program. This
information can help to make more effective matches between provider (the
school) and user (student). That means the expectations are better met,
contributing to satisfaction of the user (student). Image research can reveal
new strategies in addressing internal and external audiences; it can be used to
position the university amongst the others that compete with that institution.
analysis can confirm the strengths and weaknesses of an institution. Strengths
can then be projected to build even stronger image directed to the key
constituencies. Weaknesses can be improved to become strengths.
analysis information can be used to develop curricular to guide the
institutions to best educational opportunities, and to identify activities that
are not productive to users and providers.
analysis information can be applied to develop public relations plan suggesting
strategies to advance the institution on many fronts: potential students, faculty
attitudes, public perceptions, potential employers, current employers or
graduates, alumni, local, national and international media representatives,
internal staff and Board members.
institution has a strong interest in how its publics perceive the school and
its programs and services, since we know people often respond to an
institution's image, not necessarily its reality. A public holding negative
image of a school will avoid or criticize it, even if the institution is of
high quality and those holding a positive image will be drawn to it. Images can
change as a result of circumstances, events and developments (Topor, 1998)
happens that a school is considered responsive by some groups and unresponsive
by others. It is very important to know why it occurs and if anything can be
done about it. People tend to form images of institutions based on often
limited information, sometimes even inaccurate information. And these images
can affect the success of the school. This may include attendance, donations,
and media perceptions, joining faculty and staff and other tangible and
important to understand what image your institution has in the marketplace to
make sure that this image reflects accurately and favorably your realities.
institution's actual quality is often less important than its prestige, or
reputation for quality, because it is the university's perceived excellence,
which, in fact, guides the decisions of prospective students and scholars considering
offers of employment, and federal agencies awarding grants. (Topor, 1998)
What is the way to manage you university
image? One of the tools to deal
with it is to perform the reputation audit. The reputation audit determines the
gap between your organization's desired reputation and the actual reputation.
Desired reputation is determined through a strategic process involving
institutional senior management. The actual reputation is determined through an
intensive review with stakeholders (the alumni, faculty,
students, staff members, and the general public) which may involve one-on-one
interviews, quantified research, studies of communication materials and media
content analysis. The reputation audit sets out four components for your
- What is your desired
state of reputation?
- What is
your actual reputation?
- Where are
- How do you
bridge those gaps?
reputation audit enables managers to establish
management consensus about the desired state of reputation, understand stakeholders' perceptions about your organization,
develop a results-oriented plan to move your organization
towards its desired state of reputation and communicate
key messages across stakeholder groups effectively and consistently.
It sometimes happens that, as a result of
reputation audit, university managers find out that the institution has a bad
image, which can be both deserved and not deserved. Repairing organizational
reputation then becomes one of the greatest challenges. Image is built by years
of hard work, and it can be damaged or destroyed in the blink of an eye. Thus,
efforts should be taken not only to build an image but also to maintain it.
first examine the reasons why an organization's reputation may be tarnished.
There are typically four variables in the equation: attitude, alienation, lack
of communication, and poor service.
first reason is attitude. Attitudes are evaluative statements-either favorable
or unfavorable-concerning objects, people, or events. They reflect how one feels
about something (Schuler, 2000). Reputation-damaging attitude problems
generally include perceived arrogance, lack of respect for others, judgmentalism,
next reason is alienation. By alienation I mean living outside the culture of
the institutional community, knowing very little about organizational culture
or perhaps being indifferent to it, and taking little part in the activities of
the institution. How many of your students know who the Provost is or what she
does? How many of your faculty are on any kind of institutional committee or
are active in an organization? Do you know any of your constituents as people,
or are they all just “students”, “faculty” or “staff”?
third reason for acquiring a bad reputation is poor communication.
Communication is one of the most difficult of human activities. It takes time
to communicate; it takes work to develop the skills; it takes empathy to
translate “TQM” or “benchmarking” to a language people understand; and there is
the perennial problem of how to reach people where they will read what you
write or listen to what you say. How did you notify the campus about your last
intranet upgrades? How do you tell the campus about your accomplishments and
plans? If you don't reach them by the method you choose, how can they find
these things out?
there is poor service. The focal service the university renders is sharing
knowledge and training the students’ skills, and serving the society through
making research on vital contemporary issues. There may be complaints from
multiple institutional stakeholders. These may be real problems or they may be
problems of perception, but complaints generally revolve around failure to
communicate the criteria for the students to be met, failure to organize the
learning process effectively, ambiguity in the way the organization works and
slow response to changing environment. What do you do if someone makes a
request for a service that you cannot or will not provide? How do you make sure
a request gets routed to a person who is qualified to respond?
What should a manger do about all these?
first step is to take stock of attitudes - yours and that of your
organization. Clearly, organizations don't have attitudes; people do. But every
person in the organization represents the organization, and an individual's
attitude becomes the organizational attitude as far as that person's contacts
are concerned. As a result, if you have staff members with inappropriate
attitudes who are meeting your public, they need to adjust their attitudes.
attitudes you need to bring to the table are not consistent with ego hunger or
insecurity. You need to feel needed and appreciated, and so does your staff.
One of the jobs of a manager is to affirm the staff and address their concerns
appropriately, so they are working in a safe and comfortable culture.
a suggested set of factors that will combine to form an attitude supportive of
Be service oriented. There is obviously nothing new about this statement, but
it's primary. You need to walk in others' shoes; to see the world from their
perspective as nearly as you can; then serve them at least as well as you would
expect to be served. At the same time, this does not mean catering to their
every whim; you need to act in the best interests of the institution as a
Be steady. The manager needs to learn how to compromise where that makes sense,
but be firm in adherence to overarching principles. The manager needs to treat
the organization constituents fairly and consistently, applying the same
standards to all. Playing favorites may win temporary approval, but is pretty
sure to gain the disrespect of many and may cause operational problems as well.
Be respectful. The manager needs to value others' background and experience,
even though it may not be directly related to your own. It is necessary to
respect their opinions by listening and not disparaging, respect their time by
being on time to meetings and appointments, and by being concise and to the
point in conversations and written communications, respect their intelligence
by admitting when you're wrong and by being willing to take corrective action.
The manager should learn to respect their feelings by praising in public and
criticizing in private.
Be positive. Look for the good in any situation - something can be gained out
of even the worst events. Compliment others often. Regard mistakes as
inevitable consequences of taking action, and use them as learning experiences.
Focus on solving problems, not assigning blame.
thing to do is to diminish the alienation of the campus
community. You, as a manager, are the “them” in the “us against them” game. To
change that, it is essential to become a part of the community; and to succeed
in that, you need to be invited in. Here’s what can be done about this
- Be loyal.
Loyalty of a manager to the faculty, staff and co-workers means that he stands
by them, even when they err. Loyalty to the institution means that the manager
gives his best to his work, looks for ways to help build the institutional
reputation, and represents his institution in a positive light to those outside
it. Being loyal to the institution also means not disparaging the predecessors
or anyone else: in the long run, it was your institution that hired them, too.
Loyalty leads toward inclusion in any community; disloyalty breeds alienation.
involved. Know who's who in your institution. Attend athletic events, student
performances and committee meetings. Act as an advisor to a student
organization. Eat lunch in the cafeteria. You don't need to step far outside
your comfort range, but stretch yourself a bit and feel a part of the culture
of the place. In return, you'll be seen as a part of it.
step to be taken is to improve communication. Billions of
dollars are spent on communication annually, and millions of people dedicate
their careers to it. Yet it remains one of the most difficult of human
activities. You first need to get a person's attention; then you need to hold
it. Your competition is intense.
does not presume to be a course in communication, but nevertheless these are a
few pointers that have proven effective.
- Listen. How
often, in meetings and conversations, are we so preoccupied with what we're
going to say next that we miss what someone else is saying? It's part of the
human condition. But unless you hear what others are saying, you cannot know
what to say to them. You need to give others a chance to have their say; you need
to hear what they say; you need to understand what they say; and you need to
let them know you understand.
One of the
most difficult communication situations is when someone is criticizing you. You
need to start out with the assumption the criticism is legitimate, and you need
to avoid being, or even seeming, defensive. Find out what solutions the critic
has in mind. You may or may not agree with your critic, but you need to hear
what is being said. "You may be right" is one of the most powerful
antidotes for rage, by the way.
- Let people
know what is going on, and do it often. Nobody likes to feel
left out. Communication does sometimes take a lot of time, but the time isn't
wasted. It just seems like it sometimes. One-on-one, face-to-face communication
is best. Meetings can be productive means of communication, even if less
satisfactory than individual (and in some cases, the side conversations are the
most important part of the meeting - as is often the case with the
conferences). Personal contacts by phone or e-mail are still effective. Less
effective, though still legitimate in some circumstances, are general methods
such as broadcast e-mail or phone mail, or newsletters.
problems. If there are problems of any kind, the campus knows it. If you try to
minimize the problems or, worse, ignore them, you'll alienate yourself from the
campus community. Your constituents need to know that you're aware of the
problems and that you understand how the problems affect their work and their
life. They also need to know what you are doing and plan to do to correct the
problems or work around them.
- Let people
know where you stand. Your constituents (and your co-workers) need to have a
clear understanding of your positions and expectations; otherwise, how can they
know whether to agree or disagree? Even in cases when there are reasons to
believe your position may be unpopular, the university community will respect
the fact that you've made it clear and opened the door for discussion. Just
stating your position isn't enough, though; particularly those who disagree
deserve to know your reasoning. If you can't state that clearly, you need to
rethink your position. Policies and procedures are best written down and placed
in an appropriately accessible location (such as, perhaps, an institutional
image or repairing a damaged reputation takes more than good works, but it does
take good works. All the good attitude, community spirit, and superb
communication in the world won't rebuild your reputation if there's no
substance to your work. Here’s what a manager should do to ensure high
- Strive for
Excellence – personal and organizational. What image does the word
"excellent" conjure up for you? For your constituents? A few words
and phrases that come to mind are responsive, effective (doing the right
things), quality-conscious, proactive. Regardless of what may be said anywhere
else, your institutional culture is the final authority in your case. However
excellence may be defined in your context, it needs the yardstick against which
you and your co-workers need to measure your efforts. If you clearly and
consistently exceed institutional expectations, and if you are providing
responsible technology leadership, you have achieved excellence - at least, in
any institution worth working for.
strategically. Make sure you understand institutional objectives (ideally, as
reflected in your institution's strategic plan), then craft departmental
strategic plans that support them. Know - or learn - what resources are at
hand, and project what you need (in a generic sense). Plan for the ideal.
Strangely, most well-conceived plans seem to become reality in 3-5 years, even
if you have no idea where the funding can come from. Set goals that are
specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and trackable (SMART).
planning into accomplishment. You'll lose credibility if all you ever do is
plan, and nobody sees any results from the planning. You need to show progress.
One method of focusing is to create a tactical plan each year, based on the
strategic plan. The tactical plan will not only contain steps for achieving
strategic objectives, but also provide for resolving problems that have cropped
need to establish priorities. Documenting procedures helps, too. And you need
effective means of handling the endless stream of day-to-day requests that can
easily choke progress if allowed to consume all the resources they could. We
all operate in reactive mode much of the time, but we need to set aside time
for proactive effort.
Review/evaluate progress. Finally, you need to take stock of your results.
Feedback from constituents is critically important: are their needs being met?
Are their expectations being met or, better, exceeded? Are they excited about
your plans for the future?
thing is that your efforts have a purpose that is understood and supported by
students, faculty, staff, and administration of the institution.
significant part of the institutional image is its web site. World Wide Web
becomes a very important source of information and contributes a lot to
building a school image.
Wide Web is viewed as a desirable medium for public relations in many
organizations. The most often mentioned reasons for developing an
organizational web site are to provide information, for advertising and
marketing, and for customer communication and feedback (two way symmetrical
communications). In addition to all these web sites project the image the
institution wants to portray.
There are several principles to be considered to create an
effective web site. The first among them is creating a dialogical loop that
allows publics to query organizations and what is more important allows
organizations to respond to questions, concerns and problems. The next
principle is the usefulness of the information. Sites should make an effort to
include the information of general value to all publics, even if a site
contains primary industry or user specific information. Sites should also
contain features that make it attractive for repeat visits such as updated
information, changing issues, special forums, new commentaries, on-line
question and answer sessions and so on. Sites that contain limited and
unchanging information are no longer useful after one visit and do not
encourage repeat visits. Visitors who come to the web site for informational
purposes and those who come for curiosity should find it easy to understand and
figure out. And finally, the web site should contain useful links, which easily
connect the user to the source of information given or to similar sites, but we
should be very careful about the links that lead visitors astray. There should
be clearly marked paths to return to your site.
In the conclusion I would like to come over the main points
again. Since beginning of 1990s the establishment of a unique institutional
image, the “aura” about the institution and its programs has become a part of
marketing in higher education. This image allows the institution to occupy a
particular niche in the local marketplace. Institutional image may affect the
quality and number of students that an institution can attract; it also affects
the future of the students themselves. Institutional image spreads through
every aspect of the educational institution. Everything from admissions to
athletics can be affected by and affects intuitional image.
the WWW would benefit any higher education institution. Web sites for
institutions and programs give colleges and universities competitive advantage
in a marketplace with no barriers to entry. Web sites allow organizations to
target specific information to specific groups, and to change and update
information easily and inexpensively.
Building an image is not an easy process
– this is something that cannot be done overnight. Reputation audit is a tool
to find out what various university constituents think of it, a tool to find
out institutional internal and external image. Repairing tarnished
organizational reputation may turn to be one of the greatest challenges.
reasons why an organization's reputation may be damaged are attitude,
alienation, lack of communication, and poor service. These four variables need
to be revised on a regular basis.
G., 1993. Images and Strategic Corporate Marketing Planning.
2. Kent, M.
1998. Building dialogic Relationship through the World Wide Web.
3. Leicht, J.
J., Strategic Communications: Working with Technology to Communicate the
D. & Harrison, T., 1994. Conceptualizing and Assessing Organizational
Image: Model Image, Commitment, and Communication.
5. White, C.
& Raman, N., 1999. The World Wide Web as a Public Relation Medium: the
Use of Research, Planning, and Evaluation in Web Site Development.
К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №4 - 2007