Collegial cooperation turns toxic: Its depth and breadth: What are the implications for higher education institutions (HEIs)?
Nkata L., James
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Collegiality has been glorified as the strongest governance pillar for higher education institutions, especially in promoting independence of thought, impartial decisions on leadership, mutual respect, and providing peer support. However, the recent corporate culture recently adopted by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and a system that rewards individual accomplishments, together with decreased state funding had steadily weakened the collegial philosophy, while toxicity takes the center stage - thereby threatening unity, harmony and institutional visibility. As a result, institutions have turned toxic. Unfortunately, although easily identifiable, toxicity is a difficult phenomenon to deal with, especially in dynamic academia environment, performance-based pay and personal traits notwithstanding. The paper concludes that the lack of conclusive empirical research to establish the depth and breadth of toxicity has made it difficult for personnel to make defensible decisions. The paper recommends that institutions should prioritize institutional inquiry in order to address work related behavior – among others to negate unacceptable behavior that have persistently harmed individuals as well as the institutions. Finally, institutions should make collegiality part of all “Personnel decisions” that clearly stipulate flawless indicators and measures of toxic behavior, in order to enhance collegial, civil and harmonious work environment that promotes staff engagement, productivity and institutional stability.