Assessing the relationship between higher education leadership behaviors and professional social media use
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The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between professional social media use and leadership frames among higher education leaders. To do so, data on specific leadership frames and social media use were collected and analyzed. The study employed Bolman and Deal’s (1997) Four-Frame Model (FFM), an analysis technique that consolidates major schools of thought about leadership into four perspectives: human resource, structural, political, and symbolic. The non-probability sample consisted of 122 administrators and faculty members employed at a federally-designated Hispanic-serving institution of higher education in South Texas. The study was correlational and retrospective in nature. An online survey instrument was used to collect the data. Participants in this study were most likely to align with the human resource frame and least likely to align with the political frame. The human resource frame was a statistically significant predictor of social media use in support of professional and/or institutional goals among faculty and administrators combined, as well as among faculty members alone. Among administrators alone, however, none of the frames was a statistically significant predictor of social media use. Among the eight social media services studied, Facebook was most commonly used on a daily basis in support of professional and/or institutional goals, followed by YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Participants’ most frequent purpose of using social media was to consume content created by others. The next most frequent purpose was to share content created by others. The least frequent purpose was to post original content created by the participant. Results indicated that at the study’s site, the majority of higher education leaders’ professional use of social media is passive, meaning that they consume information but are less likely to engage in active use such as posting original content. Increasing social media activity by higher education leaders in support of professional and/or institutional goals can have the positive effects of personalizing higher education and improving the industry’s reputation to members of the public.