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Pros and cons related to consensus-based versus top-down decision making processes.


Decision making is usually consensus based where the people involved hold a significant amount of power and their power is roughly equal. Considering the higher education environment, professors hold a significant amount of power. They enjoy tenure and can rarely be fired regardless of their views or productivity. Sometimes colleges have high-profile professors who draw students to the university thereby bringing in more money. This gives them additional power.

The pros to consensus based decision making is that it reduces the possibility of extremely bad decisions being made. Since you have many people involved with roughly equal power there is the tendency to problem the ideas, motives and rationality of proposals put forth by other members. Another pro of consensus based decision making is that the status quo is very hard to change. Therefore if you have a good program in place one or two mavericks won't be able to come in and change the organization in a short amount of time. Typically in a consensus based decision making environment, members feel like they have some ownership of the process and invest time and energy into the school and/or program as a result of this feeling of ownership.

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