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This article focuses on the “problematic aspects” of the P-P model and the underlying factors to those problems. Key here is the recognition that most studies of the P-P model show their high dependence upon RELATIONSHIP!

Bennis (1999) is identified early on as seeing the P-P model as based on the CEO-COO business model. Bennis points out the problem:

“Ironically … even when the the CEO and COO function happily together, they can run into big trouble, as mutual admiration is not necessarily relevant, much less productive.” (p. 78)

Bennis contends that the CEO-COO model is “unworkable” because the two roles are “inextricably interwoven” (p. 79) and James notes that “the potential for envy, interference, isolation, competition, and conflict, are too great.” He asks “Is this assessment also true of the president-principal model?” (p. 401)

James’ Table 2 comparing the results of JSEA (1991), Pasi (1995), and Dygert (1998) is very interesting. The table essentially shows the change in perception over time of presidents and principals of the primary “problems” of the P-P model. James highlights the “dichotomous division of principal as “inside person” and president as “outside person” first suggested in the JSEA (1991) survey. In particular, this division alienates the president from the very population he or she is missioned to serve.

The central question James seeks to answer: Can “the chief administrative position” be effectively “split into the roles of president-principal, and if it can, are there lessons from the problematic areas of the model that might provide insight into its high performance functioning?” (p. 405) The answer to this question is derived form the use of 3 different lenses: organizational theory, paradigms and paradigm change theory, and research on effective teamwork. The result of this is a list of 10 modest conclusions, the first of which is most illuminating: “tensions between the president and principal roles are an inherent element of structural design that cannot be eliminated, only managed.”

Clearly RELATIONSHIP is central to the P-P model. In some ways the remaining 9 of the conclusions explicate the word “managed.” What does it look like to effectively “manage” the tensions between the president and principal? Is such management even desirable – does it indicate a fundamental flaw in the organizational structure? Or do all relationships have tensions that need managing?

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