Dissertation Abstract

Radiation Therapy Program Directors: A Frames Analysis of Leadership in Higher Education

Publication Number:  AAT3045492
Author:  Turley, Catherine
School:  The George Washington University
Date:  2002
Pages:  260
Subject:  Radiation Therapy, Management

Radiation therapy program directors hold ultimate responsibility for all aspects of the educational programs that prepare practitioners in the field of radiation therapy. Although their impact is greatest at the levels of the programs they direct and within the institutions in which their programs reside, the influence of their leadership extends to the radiation therapy profession as a whole.

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which program directors exhibit multiframe leadership as defined by Bolman and Deal. The Bolman and Deal model synthesizes theories of leadership into four perspectives or frames (structural, human resource, political and symbolic), and defines multiframe leadership as the consistent use of three or more frames. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were combined in a mail survey of the population of directors of the 69 radiation therapy educational programs accredited by the joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. One section of the survey employed a modified version of Bolman and Deal's Leadership Orientations, while a second section elicited key demographic and professional data. The final part of the survey used the critical incident technique, asking respondents to describe a personal leadership experience.

Fifty-nine surveys were returned for a response rate of 85%. Number and choice of leadership frames consistently used were examined in relation to gender, years of experience as a program director, years of clinical experience, and program sponsorship. The human resource and structural frames showed the greatest frequency of use on both the quantitative and qualitative measures. Significant relationships were found between gender and consistent use of the human resource, political, and symbolic frames, and between institutional setting and consistent use of the structural frame. Forty-four percent of respondents espoused multiframe leadership on the quantitative instrument, whereas 60% were rated multiframe leaders on critical incidents. A further analysis of the critical incidents identified six common leadership issues and challenges faced by radiation therapy program directors. Since leadership effectiveness is most associated with use of the political and symbolic frames, this study points to a need for radiation therapy program directors to develop greater strengths in these frames.

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