Applying a Fit Perspective to College Presidential Turnover and Selection

Jon L. McNaughtan
Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education  •  Volume 2  •  2017  •  pp. 077-093
Aim/Purpose : The role of college presidents has become increasingly critical, yet their tenure as institutional leaders have decreased over the last half century, leading to institutional instability and an expensive search process for new presidents. Scholars have sought to understand this phenomenon by focusing on either presidential characteristics, or institutional characteristics, with few approaches that examine both.

Contribution: This article posits that our understanding of presidential departure and selection is in need of a more holistic and theoretically sound approach. This paper presents a structured literature review college presidential turnover that illustrates the limited approaches taken to understand this challenge.

Recommendations for Practitioners : The conceptual framework presented here provides practitioners with specific areas to focus on when seeking to measure fit with their current/ future presidents. This is beneficial as it leads to intentional defining of goals, values, skills, and experiences desired in a new president and clarifies expectations for the incoming leader. In addition, this article argues that such models could enhance presidential evaluations.

Recommendation for Researchers: This model can help illuminate underlying causes of presidential turnover, and offers a theoretically robust model for building on past research in a cohesive way. Further, researchers should seek to apply this model in to many professions in higher education as a way to both understand challenges created by employee is fit, and the benefits of strong fit on efficiency and effectiveness.
college presidents, turnover, presidential tenure, person-organization fit
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