The Management Information Needs of Academic Heads of Department in Universities


Forty-four academic Heads of Department, 19 senior administrative and academic support staff, 15 Chief Librarians and one Deputy Librarian in 16 English universities were interviewed about the management information needs of Heads of Department and the role that university librarians and senior administrative and academic support staff play or might play in satisfying those needs. The Critical Success Factors approach adopted was found to be an effective means of identifying and correlating departmental goals, the factors vital to their achievement, and related information needs.

Goals, Critical Success Factors and management information needs were found to vary according to the age and culture of the universities, and the research and teaching activities and academic disciplines of departments. Heads of Departments were largely dependent on informal networks of contacts for their information, did not expect to receive any management information support from their libraries, and believed that financial and other management information provided by university administrators was often provided too late and was frequently inadequate, inaccurate, difficult to access, and too intricate or cumbersome to use.

Administrative staff found it difficult to identify and focus on the information needs of academic Heads of Department because their own primary concern was to meet the information needs of their university's senior management team and outside bodies and they had neither the time nor the resources to devote to what were considered to be essentially second-order information needs. Senior library staff generally felt that they had neither the expertise nor the resources to support academic Heads of Department in their management role; where support was provided by the library it was invariably on an ancillary or ad hoc basis.

The report makes a number of recommendations for improving the organisation of management information provision to academic Heads of Department and the development of management skills education and training for Heads of Department.

Front PageContents

The Management Information Needs of Academic Heads of Department in Universities: a Critical Success Factors Approach, by Francis Greene, Brendan Loughridge and Tom Wilson
British Library Research and Development Department Report 6252 1996
Grant no: RDD/G/254