Committees. Seemingly endless, boring discussions going nowhere. No university survives without them, and no faculty member can avoid them. Why are there such a plethora of committees in the university? What functions do they serve? And how can you, as a committee member or chair, ensure that the work gets done quickly and effectively with a minimum of conflict, boredom, or wasted time? Author Neil J. Smelser has incorporated decades of experience on a myriad of committees from the local level up to national policy advisory groups into this book. He skillfully demystifies committees and explains how to get on certain committees and avoid others, how to get the committee work done as efficiently as possible, how to ensure that your views are properly represented in the committee's report, how chairing a committee can help shape its mission and direct its outcome, and how to use committees as a positive factor for your academic career. Smelser's advice will be useful to anyone working in the university setting.

Inside the Black Box

Inside the black box

Almost everything I have written up to this point is about the committee in an organizational context: its functions in that context, its types, and the organizational circumstances of its formation. At this point I turn to the committee work itself—or, better, the committee at work. I address this topic from three angles: (a) from the standpoint of committee as small-group process (this chapter), (b) from the standpoint of the serving member (Chapter 4), and (c) from the standpoint of the chair (Chapter 5).

As a social group, the committee invariably falls into that category we call instrumental. It is formed to get some kind of work done; it usually works according to a deadline for finishing that work; ...

locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles