Challenging Times for Complex Organizations: Leadership through an Innovative Matrix Structure

Monday, 18 November 2013: 10:40 AM

Deborah R. Garrison, RN, PhD
Kathleen Williamson, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA

Learning Objective 1: 1. Discuss the concepts of complexity science as they relate to leadership

Learning Objective 2: 2. Describe adaptive leadership strategies for leading higher education organizations at the interface of bureaucracy and shared governance systems.

Higher education today is faced with many challenges, and requires an engaged workforce organized to facilitate innovative approaches to achieve the mission, goals, and expected outcomes of the university and academic units. Complexity science offers new ways to structure organizations to foster greater responsiveness, to increase collaboration among individual members, and to encourage self-organization. A matrix organizational structure offers the opportunity for partnerships across the academic unit to be fostered by boundary-spanning roles focusing on areas such as assessment and accreditation, technology integration, and simulation implementation. This session will offer an example of a school of nursing that is using a matrix leadership approach while existing within a traditional bureaucratic university structure. Interrelationships among vertical, horizontal, and shared governance roles will be explored and related to complexity science concepts. Outcomes achieved through the structure, as well as areas for continuing improvement will be discussed. Data from assessment of the matrix structure, as well as the processes used for assessment, will be presented.