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Marketing survey gives insight to better management practices

A new study on marketing department heads may lead to better managers in corporate, academic worlds

By Mark Berry



K-State marketing professors surveyed 247 full-time marketing faculty members and 43 department heads at 167 universities in the United States and Canada.

The faculty members were asked to rate the most important characteristics and abilities of a department head, and the qualities of a good department. The surveys were sent out in May 2001.

Though only marketing professors were surveyed, the results apply to other academic leaders and middle managers in the corporate world, said co-author Dave Andrus, head of the marketing department.

"A lot of research shows that happy employees treat customers better, get better results and are more productive. A good administrator facilitates that process and our study gives good indicators of how to do that," Andrus said.

The survey showed that the top three abilities marketing faculty members wanted in their department head were the abilities to: 1) evaluate faculty fairly; 2) treat faculty with respect; 3) effectively represent the department to central administration when asking for funding and other needs. The ability to say 'No' was fourth on the list.

The top three personality characteristics desired by faculty were: 1) integrity; 2) honesty; 3) fairness. Characteristics like humor, charisma and compassion were at the bottom of the list.

The top three measures of a successful department were: 1) a positive climate for research; 2) a positive climate for teaching; 3) strategic direction. The measures of success list had 25 items. Student job placement rated 22 and student graduation rate was 23 in the facultys' ratings.

"Things didn't come out too well with respect to the students. That's a little surprising, because what are we here for?" Trocchia said. "We did learn something about faculty. Their concerns are largely job-focused -- that they are taken care of, treated fairly and in a department where they are able to get their research and teaching done with a minimum of hassles."

Faculty dealings with the non-academic community, such as businesses and the media, were even lower, listed at 24 and 25 in importance of measures of a successful department.

The study is under review with the Journal of Marketing Education. Trocchia presented the results at the Marketing Educator's Association Conference in mid-April, 2002.

"It has a lot of implications. Faculty want a conducive atmosphere for research and teaching, so resources need to be directed at that," Andrus said. "Students are the reason the universities exist, but faculty are its heart and soul."

Andrus said the results should be used to make a checklist of attributes and skills needed for high- and mid-level managers, which would help in the evaluation of managerial candidates.

"Across the country, most research shows people don't have much of a clue about what expectations are going to be, in university settings in particular. This helps clarify that," Andrus said.

Andrus said organizations should focus on the top few qualities that employees want in their manager.

"It's really easy in these jobs to get bogged down in 20,000 things when there are a few that are really vital," Andrus said. "If we can focus on four or five measures that make departments successful, that strategic focus is going to help performance quite a bit. If we try to be all things to all people and don't focus, our educational quality suffers."

Summer 2002