As I sit here starring at my laptop screen, I know I have entered a long and challenging journey into the world of research. While I am no blogger, I hope to share my Unbridled Project experience with you, conducting research on student organizations at SMU. I will be studying the adverse affects of annual leadership change found in student organizations and will then try to create a training program that can address these factors.
As a Business Management and Psychology double major this project is right up my allie. Additionally, student involvement has also been a large part of my college experience and therefore, combining all three aspects has resulted in my current Unbridled Project. In fact, from my experience as a student leader, I have noticed three main adverse effects of annual leadership change that I would like to primarily address in this study. First, I believe that student organizations do not do a good job of clarifying expectations and position descriptions to their new members. When students accept a leadership position in a student organization, they are expected to become accustomed to the group culture and understand their responsibilities with little direction. Even when team members are very supportive, it can take a student leader anywhere from two to four months to reach his or her full potential. Second, annual leadership turnover also requires essential information turnover. Moving forward from year to year, many student organizations lack continuity in vision and annual feedback, leaving the new management to learn from their own mistakes and create a new vision rather than refining and developing the previous one. Lastly, organizations sometimes carry over unhealthy habits that create unsuccessful organizational cultures. In most cases, much of the new leadership in student organizations is comprised of existing members who have chosen to pursue a new role in that group. Therefore, students tend to carry over unhealthy habits such as picking up slack for other members in an organization where students are told to take accountability for their actions, or interfering too much in another member’s work in an organizational culture that tries to encourage autonomy. These habits then transfer down from year to year as part of the organizational culture, rather than being addressed as they occur.
Currently, I have been working on finishing up my literature review, completing my survey, and starting work on my final report by doing sections such as the introduction, literature review, conceptual framework, and methods.
I am really excited to know that my research may have a great impact on SMU student organizations, and possibly be a starting ground for other annual leadership change institutions as well!
Moreover, as I continue to work through this project, I hope to keep this blog updated with my exciting, new experiences.
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