Critical presidential management skills: A comparative study of chief executive officers within the business and academic communities

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Community College|Business Administration, Management|Education, Administration




This doctoral study was designed to determine if there were significant differences in the "critical presidential management skills" needed for success within the academic and business communities or whether management skills were more generic. The main objective of this study was to replicate some of the work done by Neil Sweeney concerning "critical presidential management skills." The research sample was all the CEO's of two-year institutions in a tri-state area. They evaluated the skills found in Sweeney's study both in terms of executive relevance and their own performance of such skills.^ There were two main inquiries. The first was a comparison of skill ratings with the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies. The second thrust involved a comparative analyses of the stratified variables found within the survey and interview populations.^ The theoretical framework examined the work of Neil Sweeney and John Kotter who have explored "sector specific" management characteristics. The statistical format was quantitative with an additional qualitative component to validate the accuracy of the survey data. All respondents to the questionnaires constituted the interview population. Cross tabulations and Chi Square statistical tests, as well as the Mann-Whitney U Statistic compared interrelationships within each respective cell sample.^ The quantitative research found statistical significance in the ratings based on gender, size of institution and excellence. The qualitative research validated the findings of the quantitative portion with one exception, organizational structure (public vs. private). The interviewed presidents maintained that significantly different skills were necessary for public and private institutions. The skills mentioned were additional to the sixteen skills found within the survey instruments. A profile was developed embodying all the skills and characteristics needed for excellence.^ Further research needs to explore elements found based on size of institution since no research has been done in this area. Findings relative to gender, excellence and organizational structure appear to be consistent with previous studies. However, more research is needed to explore the essential qualities needed by CEO's within academia and business so that educational training and collaborative efforts can be more substantive in assisting the professional development of "excellent/outstanding" presidents. ^