COMPARING PRIORITIES IN AN AMERICAN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT AND A RUSSIAN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart Umpleby

Department of Management Science

The George Washington University

Washington, DC  20052 USA

Email:  umpleby@gwu.edu

 

 

Irina Naoumova

Department of Management

Kazan State University

Kazan, Russia

Email:  nvi2000@mail.ru

 

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

Prepared for the proceedings of the annual meeting of the

Alliance of Universities for Democracy

Vilnius, Lithuania, October 2003

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMPARING PRIORITIES IN AN AMERICAN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT AND A RUSSIAN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT

 

 Stuart Umpleby

Department of Management Science

The George Washington University

Washington, DC  20052 USA

Email:  umpleby@gwu.edu

 

Irina Naoumova

Department of Management

Kazan State University

Kazan, Russia

Email:  nvi2000@mail.ru

 

 

This paper discusses two surveys using a Quality Improvement Priority Matrix (QIPM). A QIPM is a method for identifying those features of an organization or a product or service that are rated high on importance but low on performance.  The first survey collected responses from faculty members in the Department of Management Science at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, in May 2001.  The second survey collected responses from faculty members in the Department of Management at Kazan State University in Kazan, Russia, in 2002.  The study reveals and compares the challenges being faced by faculty members in the two countries.

 

Russians rated higher on both importance and performance the features concerned with incorporating department members in university and college life, social and recreational activities and a supportive department climate.  More than American professors they believe it is important to cooperate with other professors in the department, and with professors in other departments in the university.  Russians suggested adding to the list of characteristics (for the next survey) such categories as creativeness and initiative as the most important for quality improvement.

 

The individualistic approach in America universities helps them to pay more attention to the needs of each student, for example by offering a wide range of elective courses and respecting the interests of individual professors and researchers.  American professors are supported with grants, research funds, travel money, etc.  A high level of research activity, publications and conference presentations contributes to the quality of instruction.  But American professors indicated that they would like for their system to be more cooperative.  Russians chose the opposite direction – more individualism in their system. Russians say they need to give more respect to each individual’s interests and needs.

 

 

Background on the Research Method

 

A Quality Improvement Priority Matrix (QIPM) is a useful method for achieving data-driven decision-making.  Regular information from employees and customers about the features of the organization that most need improvement allows managers to focus attention and resources where they can best contribute to improving employee and customer satisfaction. (Umpleby and Melnychenko, 2002)  The QIPM was developed as a means for arriving at priorities for action rather than for doing comparative research. (Naoumova and Umpleby, 2002)  However, we thought it would be informative to look at QIPM data from two academic departments in two quite different countries, the United States and Russia.  The comparison reveals the challenges being faced by faculty members at two universities, The George Washington University (GWU) and Kazan State University (KSU).  Faculty members at both universities are seeking to improve their departments, but their priorities are somewhat different due to the conditions at their universities.

 

At both GWU and KSU faculty members in the Department of Management were given a list of features of the department.  They were asked to evaluate the importance and performance of each feature on a scale from 0 to 10.  On the importance scale 0 means no importance at all and 10 means very high importance.  On the performance scale 0 means that the Department’s performance was very poor whereas 10 means that the Department’s performance was very good.  Eighteen faculty members filled out the questionnaire at GWU.  About the same number of faculty members filled out the questionnaire at KSU.  The scores for each feature were averaged.  For all the features the mean score on importance at GWU is 7.85.  At KSU the mean score for importance is 7.34.  These high numbers suggest that the features listed are considered important in both departments.  For all the features the mean score on performance at GWU is 5.21.  At KSU the mean score for performance is 4.35.  The lower performance score at KSU than at GWU might mean that overall satisfaction at KSU is slightly lower than at GWU.

 

The correlation between the importance and performance scores at GWU was 0.353.  The correlation between the importance and performance scores at KSU was 0.387. The correlation between the importance scores at GWU and KSU was 0.464.  The correlation between the performance scores at GWU and KSU was 0.124.  A correlation of 1.0 would mean that the two variables are perfectly correlated, for example, a feature rated high on importance is also rated high on performance and a feature rated low on importance is also rated low on performance.  A correlation of –1.0 would mean that the variables are inversely related.  That is, a feature rated high on importance is rated low on performance and a feature rated low on importance is rated high on performance.  The positive correlations between importance and performance at both GWU and KSU indicate that importance is associated with performance.  This result implies that faculty members on both campuses feel they are able to accomplish their goals.  The fact that the importance variables for the two departments have a higher correlation (0.464) than the performance variables (0.124) means that there is fairly high agreement on what is important but large differences in what each department does well.  Indeed, there is almost no correlation between the performance ratings in the two departments.  This result suggests that the two departments can learn from each other.

 

 

Rating Features of the Two Universities

 

Figures 1 to 3 present charts showing performance scores for the two departments.  The features are grouped into three categories – support, office equipment, and activities.  The features are rank ordered by difference (GWU – KSU).  Hence, features where the difference is greatest (GWU has a higher score than KSU) are at the top.  Features with negative differences (KSU has a higher score than GWU) are at the bottom.

 

Figure 1 reveals that faculty members at GWU feel their university performs well in providing travel support, assistance with learning information technology (IT), and funds for research.  Faculty members at KSU say their university does well in providing a working papers series, opportunities to meet local managers, and the library collection.

 

Figures 2 shows that GWU faculty members feel their university does well in providing classroom projection equipment, websites, fax machines and copiers.   Faculty members at KSU feel their university does well in providing conference rooms and computer labs.

 

Figures 3 shows that GWU is thought to do well with faculty annual reports and course evaluations.  KSU is thought to do well on coordination with other departments, opportunities for academic work with other faculty members, and the department’s strategic plan.  The three figures show that GWU is thought to do well with office equipment and support while KSU does well in activities.

 

 

Conclusion

 

In addition to comparing data from two organizations, comparisons can also be made between two time periods in one organization. (Umpleby and Karapetyan, 2002)  That is, two surveys done a year apart reveal where progress was made in the intervening year and where further attention needs to be focused. 

 

Both universities are constrained by financial resources.  However, some needs are only procedural, for example, more strategic planning and more meetings with local businessmen.  Although resources will always be less than desired, a quality improvement priority matrix can help organizations allocate resources, including time and attention, to the issues where improvement will contribute most to the satisfaction of employees and customers.  Faculty members at both universities have found the QIPM to be a useful tool for identifying where attention can most usefully be directed.

 

 

Acknowledgement

 

Saadia Khilji and Naveen Hariprasad helped in processing data and preparing several complicated figures in an earlier, longer report.

 

 

References

 

Naoumova, Irina and Stuart Umpleby, “Two Methods Useful for Starting a Quality Improvement Program,” in Russell J. Meyer and David Keplinger (eds.), Perspectives in Higher Education Reform, Volume 11, Alliance of Universities for Democracy, Texas Review Press, 2002, pp. 185-193.

 

Umpleby, Stuart and Oleksandr Melnychenko, “Quality Improvement Matrix:  A Tool to Improve Customer Service in Academia,”  in J.A. Edosomwan (ed.) Customer Satisfaction Management Frontiers – VI:  Serving the 21st Century Customer, Fairfax, VA:  Quality University Press, 2002, pp. 6.1-6.12.

 

Umpleby, Stuart and Aram Karapetyan, “How a Quality Improvement Priority Matrix Reveals Change in a University Department,” in Russell J. Meyer and David Keplinger (eds.), Perspectives in Higher Education Reform, Volume 12, Alliance of Universities for Democracy, Texas Review Press, 2003, pp. 315-322.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                    Figure 1 Graph of Performance:  Support

 

 

 

 

 

                                            Figure 2 Graph of Performance:  Office Equipment

 

 

 

 

                                                                Figure 3 Graph of Performance:  Activities

 

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