Major College And University Planetariums: A Study Of Organizational Marginality
"Major planetariums on college and university campuses occupy a precarious position. They have distinct organizational ties to their academic institutions, but they function programmatically like independent major planetariums. This dual role can put functional stress on the planetarium and limit goal accomplishment.
The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the administrative relationship between major college planetariums and their parent institutions. The concept of organizational marginality, first proposed in 1956 by Burton Clark, was used as the framework in which to examine the administrative environment of the major college planetarium and to seek strategies for alleviating negative effects induced by marginality. Ten marginality factors were derived from the literature and arranged in three broad themes:
administrative structure and goals, personnel reward system, and resource-allocation system. Data on these factors were gathered by means of self-administered questionnaires and follow-up telephone interviews. Four groups were included in the study: the directors of the major college and university planetariums, their immediate supervisors, the directors of units on each campus similar to the planetariums in structure and function (as designated by the planetarium directors), and the immediate supervisors of these similar-unit directors.
The view of the planetariums that emerged from the data was one of administrative isolation. Planetariums and their staffs were not part of the primary personnel reward system or resource-allocation system.
A strong, apparently unique, relationship existed between the planetariums and the local schools.
Similarities between the planetariums and small businesses were noted, particularly in regard to the skills a planetarium director needed to be successful.
Potential strategies to reduce the effect of marginality derived from the study included improvement of communication with various campus groups, recruitment of college classes to use the planetarium, solicitation of faculty research projects involving the planetarium, and commitment of at least a half-time staff position devoted to marketing, development, and public relations."