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Insights into Leadership: An Exploration of Information Technology and Institutional Research and Their Contributions to Data Governance

Angelina M Medeiros, Johnson & Wales University


It is critical for institutions of higher education to establish comprehensive data governance systems to effectively utilize and manage their valuable data assets (Jim & Chang, 2018; Khatri & Brown, 2010). Practical data governance strategies provide the structure that institutions need to address common challenges (Elouazizi, 2014). Being aware of the factors that influence data governance allows institutions to leverage their analytical capability for tactical decision-making and planning (Gudfinnsson et al., 2015). For these reasons, leaders must employ key leadership skills to support and guide successful data strategies (Cantwell & Richter, 2018; Harris, 2011; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2017). Although several data governance frameworks and models currently exist, there is minimal research about implementing and monitoring data governance (Alhassan et al., 2019; Al-Ruithe et al., 2018). Cantwell and Richter (2018) discussed essential leadership skills to support disparate groups within institutions, but limited studies specifically address leadership strategies between Information Technology (IT) and Institutional Research (IR) (Jones & Burrell, 2020). Further, there appears to be a gap in studies assessing data governance strategies that foster its advancement in higher education (Jim & Chang, 2018). If colleges and universities consider data and information essential assets (Hubbard et al., 2021; Jim & Chang, 2018; Khatri & Brown, 2010), they must effectively support IT and IR leadership to establish mature data governance systems (Cantwell & Richter, 2018; Harris, 2011; NCES, 2017). The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of IT and IR professionals regarding their leadership in relation to data governance. The following research question guided this research: How do IT and IR professionals perceive their leadership in relation to data governance strategies? Employing an interpretive qualitative design, data were collected through semi-structured interviews with experts (N=2), IT and IR leaders (N=12), and document/artifact analysis (N=31). Thematic data analysis (Rubin & Rubin, 2012) was applied to interview data and content analysis (Elo & Kyngäs, 2007) was used to analyze extant documentation. Four major themes emerged from an analysis of the data, revealing that IT and IR leaders have similar needs, but approach those needs from different perspectives that align with their institutional roles. Participants’ experiences highlighted deficiencies in institutional support and recognition of their work. The diverse nature of data governance operations across institutions infers the strong influence that senior leadership and culture have on fostering data governance. An additional contributing factor is the limited and diffuse literature that exists currently regarding data governance leadership. The synthesis of these themes offers significant insight into IT and IR leadership in higher education. It provides a substantive foundation to understand how data governance can be established and maintained. The results may inform higher education leaders about effective approaches to support and value IT and IR leadership.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational leadership|Information Technology

Recommended Citation

Medeiros, Angelina M, "Insights into Leadership: An Exploration of Information Technology and Institutional Research and Their Contributions to Data Governance" (2022). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI29255343.