Case Study: Oh God Kindly Do Something: A University Experience


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.

Prof. Kiran has been working as Faculty in Human Resource Management, in one of the prestigious Business Management institutes in Pune.  Though he employed at Pune, he has been registered for PhD in one the universities, near by to his native place, in Kerala. He has finished his Doctoral thesis in Organisational Behaviour, in the month of April 2005 and decided to submit the thesis for adjudication and evaluation in the month of May 2005. The institute has extended 10 days leave to Kiran for the submission of PhD thesis, even in the midst of responsibilities on admission of new batch of students, conduction of entrance test, interviews and selection during May/June months.

On 1st May, the Labour Day, he reached at Kerala. As per the intimation from his friends he had prepared all the documents for submission of PhD thesis. On May 2nd he reached at the University for the thesis submission objective. Though the guide has given some idea to Kiran, regarding the submission procedures, he decided to clarify the same with the information counter. Since the campus spread over with so many blocks and buildings and he didn't know the department from where he would get information about the submission procedures, Kiran waited in front of the information counter to collect the details. He waited there till 10.45am to see some staff in the information counter and clarify with appropriate information. Meanwhile he had better interaction with the peons of the centre and he came to know the procedural delays and regular lazy routine of the university employees towards their duties and responsibilities. 

The university bus came only at 10.45am. He saw many staff members running towards their concerned departments. The staff of information counter found present in their seat only at 11.00am. The peons of the centre have been waiting there to get their signature and send the attendance register to the administrative block. The information counter was already filled up with huge crowed. The telephone of the information counter was ringing from early morning. But no staff, including the peons, showed their interest to attend the phone calls. As soon as the staff seated on their chairs they ordered 'Tea' to the peon. The peons went on to get the Tea for the 'officers'.  The staff started talking with each other ignoring the huge crowed in front of the centre. Loosing the patience some of the parents started asking information from the staff. When one parent argued with the officer, the staff replied with arrogance that 'go and lodge a complaint against us to the Vice Chancellor.' The officers gave better message to the information seekers that 'this is the routine of the university procedures and they all have to wait for the officer's mercy'.

The work started at 11.30am, only after getting 'Tea' to the officers. After 10-12 information seekers Kiran got the opportunity to ask clarification on PhD submission. The information officer without looking on Kiran's face replied that 'go to AC-X department and get all clarifications from there'. Understanding the nature of the officer, Kiran, once again humbly asked, 'Sir, which building?' The officer replied without having a helping tone that 'go left and turn right'. He started to attend the person next to Kiran. Since the campus is filled up with so many building Kiran has to face difficulty in the identification of AC-X building. By searching for 15-20 minutes here and there in the campus, and asking many people, he found AC-X department, which was located in the Controller of Examination Building.

 The lady staff of the AC-X department detailed all information related to submission of PhD to Kiran. She asked him to submit the adjudication form with 11 synopses and the forwarding letter from the Director of the school of studies. Understanding the multifarious task associated with the submission procedure, he came out of the department searching from where to get the adjudication form. One of the staff directed him to the general store of the university from where all forms were available.  When he reached there, the staff asked him to show the cash bill. Since he didn't know the procedure, the staff simply replied that 'go to cash counter and get the slip from there. After a long search here and there in the campus premises, on the second floor of the 7th building where the State Bank of India's office situated, he saw a small cash center with a huge crowed in front.  Having a centralized counter, payment to all forms and other purposes to be made there. He waited there in the queue till his turn came. Collecting the slip from the cash counter he rushed to the general store. When he reached there the store closed for noon session. One of the staff advised him to come at 2.00pm to collect the form. Kiran, without even having the lunch, waited near by the store till the opening time. The office resumed its functions, but only at 2.30pm, after the lunch session. Majority of the staff found in a sleepy mood. He collected the form and without wasting time, rushed to School of Studies to meet his guide for further proceedings.

The School of Studies has only limited staff. The department consists of four faculties and three administrative staff including one peon. It is known to every one that to get things done from the department the wards have to depends on 'peons' than the 'Director.' With lump sum amount of money everything can be done within minutes and seconds. But Kiran couldn't meet his gyide, since he has taken three days leave for attending one workshop. Kiran become frustrated and worried, since he had only ten-days leave for the thesis submission purpose.

After 3 days on May 5th, he got signature and further assistance from the guide and he directed Kiran to get the approval from the Director. The conflict between the Director and Kiran's guide has been widely known to department, after having their struggle to get into the position of Directorship. After taking the adjudication form, the Director asked him to clear all the dues from various departments and submit the same today itself. She asked Kiran to produce all the due certificates, from general library, department library and other departments at the earliest. Kiran neither used department library nor the university library, for his research purpose. Still the Director asked him to produce certificate from there. In search of library Kiran started another trip.  Finally he found the university library. When he reached there the librarian was on leave for three days. The librarian had taken the leave without giving charge to any one. Kiran felt, things become more troublesome. Empty hand he returned to the department. While on the way he met the departmental peon Mr. Joseph. Kiran described the entire problem to Joseph. Kiran asked his help by offering better 'return.'  Joseph took up the assignment. Taking all the details Joseph went on to get the dues certificate. Two hours later he came back with the all dues certificates. Kiran got so surprised to see it.  Having all the dues certificates when he reached the Director's cabin he was informed that the Director has already left the campus. Joseph informed him that the Director would be on leave  for the next day also.

On 7th May, Kiran produced all the dues certificates with other documents to the Director. She signed all the documents and returned back with 'best of luck.' With the adjudication form, 11 synopses, the panel list of the evaluators and the forwarding letters once again he reached AC X department with Joseph. While looking upon the document the lady staff informed him that he has not paid the adjudication fee. An amount of Rs.2500/- required to be paid as adjudication fee. Once again Kiran reached the cash counter and has collected the Chelan slip of 2500/Rs. Kiran requested the help of Joseph in the further proceedings, since he has been facing many hurdles from the departments. Joseph agreed to help him. Joseph took the entire documents and submitted the same to the lady staff. Since, Joseph has better relationship with the departmental staff, he succeeded in submission of synopsis within few minutes. On May 7 th submission of PhD synopsis got over with a weeklong hurdle.

Joseph informed him that he has to wait for another three months for the submission of the thesis as per the university norms. Now the synopsis-forwarding step has completed only. Joseph told him that the submission of the thesis depends on 'how you make the follow up' with various departments in the coming days…. if you make effective follow up, you can submit your thesis within one moth. The clearance file required to be verified by many officials at various hierarchical levels. The clearance file has to move from AC X department to PhD section, from there to Assistant Registrar, from Assistant Registrar to Deputy Registrar, from Deputy Registrar to Joint Registrar, from Registrar the same file should return in the same manner to the PhD section and from there to the AC X department. By hearing all these university hierarchical hurdles, for the PhD submission, Kiran became so tensed and frustrated. He thought the only way to reduce the days in these hierarchical hurdles is to pay a lump sum amount to Joseph and get it done at the earliest. Kiran offered better 'return' to the peon and requested his help by explaining his problem related to job. The peon agreed to do it. He asked Kiran to come after three days since the Registrar and other officials were engaged in personal interviews on permanent posts at various levels in the university. Without having any option he returned home with tension and anxiety.

It's almost one week over. Mean while many calls from the institute came for his requirement in the recruitment and selection process of the new batch. He sent a letter to the Director seeking one week more leave from the institute. The institute rejected the request and asked him to come back within 2-3 days.  The Director had given the option either to leave the job or come back within 2-3 days. Kiran's tension and frustration became so high by hearing the reply from the institute Director. If he continued here with university procedures it would end up with lose of job. But he thought, without PhD Degree he has only limited career options.  Any way, once he has to go through all these university dealings for the submission of thesis, either today or tomorrow. He decided to continue his effort for the submission of PhD and sent another letter, requesting one week leave from the institute.

On 10th May as per the direction of the peon he reached the university department. Joseph has got the clearance from the Deputy Registrar of the AC X department and forwarded the file to the Controller of Examination for his close scrutiny. While, Joseph came to know that the Controller of Examination of examination was on official trip to some of the regional centres of the university for monitoring and evaluation. Joseph informed Kiran that the Controller of Examination would be coming only May 13 th. On May 13th as usual Kiran and Joseph approached the Controller of Examination office. The file is not signed. The peon picked up the file and sought help from one of the attenders of the Examination Department to place the file on the top of all files. After one hour Joseph got the signed file and started their journey to PhD section.

The Ph.D Section is very famous for creating obstacle to the research scholars. There is no proper documentation system. Conflict between the research scholars and the department staffs has been quite common. The Administrative Assistant of the PhD section is an egocentric person, showing his power and authority, more than the Section Officer. Being the leader of one of the strong university employees unions, he has given more importance to the to union activities than the day-to-day departmental responsibilities. One couldn't see him more than one hour in his seat in a day. But no one dared to complaint against him, since he has strong hold on employees union and create unnecessary hurdles to the research scholars. His past history detailed many stories of missing files, progress reports and original papers. Though the file reached on 13th May, to the Ph D session, it blocked there till 17th of May because of Administrative Assistant's absence on his seat. On 17th of May Administrative Assistant wrote a note and passed the file to the verification of the Section officer. The Section officer's signed the clearance file as soon as it reached there. Joseph took the file to the next hierarchical level for verification, the Assistant Registrar.

When the file reached up to Assistant Registrar, Joseph couldn't see her. She has been attending a meeting at Deputy Registrar Level since morning. The peon kept the clearance file on the top of all the files. Joseph asked Kiran to wait there till the file gets signed. The file once again got blocked there for one day. On 19th May, the Assistant Registrar passed the clearance file to the Deputy Registrar. When the file reached up to the Deputy Registrar cabin, one union meeting was going on.  The leaders of the union of Deputy Registrars were having hot discussion on an upcoming employee strike. The desk in front of Deputy Registrar was filled up with so many files. Since the peon belongs to the Deputy Registrar's union they allowed him to enter into the cabin. Without looking up to the files Deputy Registrar signed the clearance files. The clearance file moved from Deputy Registrar to the Joined Registrar. The Joined Registrar cabin was found empty as other departments. The departmental peon informed Joseph about an urgent meeting at Registrar level where the Joint Registrars had to attend. He told further that the meeting would continue till evening. Cursing the system of the University Kiran returned home.

He called one of his friends in one Pune and asked about the developments in the institute. But he couldn't give any information on institutional affairs.

On 20th May the Joint Registrar signed the clearance file and passed on the same to Registrar. Kiran got the information that the Registrar is been attending an important meeting at Vice Chancellors room in relation to upcoming Syndicate Meeting.  He is not ready to look any files on the coming two days because of the urgency of syndicate meeting. Now these dialogues became so casual to Kiran and he didn't respond to it. On 22 nd the Registrar signed the paper and has given back the same to the Assistant Registrar. When the files reached up to Assistant Registrar it was around 4.00pm. The Assistant Registrar already left her office and the peon asked them to come on next day. On 23 rd May the Assistant Registrar signed the file and passed the file to the PhD section. The Section officer put the file of the Administrative Assistant and asked Kiran to wait for a while. The Administrative Assistant came only at 3.30pm. The peon personally requested the Administrative Assistant to speed up the file. He took the file and started writing. Till 4.30pm he continued the writing. With a note he passed on the file further to the AC X department. The peon took the file and run towards AC X department. As and when they reached there the staffs were already get into University bus. Since it was weekend, there was less hope for the submission of thesis for next two days. The concerned lady in the department asked him to come on 25 th. 

  On 25th May, the Deputy Registrar of the AC X department allowed the submission of thesis to the Examination Department. Kiran submitted four copies of the Thesis to the university and gave big thanks to the university authorities. A three months target for thesis submission thus finished within a period of 18 days. He understood the 'value of Joseph's (Peons)' help in getting things done in a university. He offered 500/-Rs to the Peon and said 'good bye' to him. Joseph informed him that for further follow-ups also Kiran would have to depend on him. The peon has given his mobile number to him for further contact. Kiran retuned home with a peace of mind at least for one day.

When he reached his home a 'registered letter' was waiting for him. It indicated that 'he was suspended from the service with an immediate effect' from May 20th onwards because of lack of integrity, disobedience, and irresponsible attitude towards the institute and his duties and responsibilities. The letter indicates that an organisation requires 'more integrity than PhD degree.'


1. Discuss how organisational hierarchy affects the functional deliverables?

2. Discuss the organisational structure of universities that affect the satisfaction of stakeholders?

3. How far corruption and nepotism affect university administration?

4. To what extend the departmentation and centralization affect effective university administration?

5. Discuss the motivational factors of university employees?

6. Discuss the role of training and development programmes required for university employees in their performance improvement?

7. How we can incorporate effective performance appraisal system to university administrative system that contributes to employees functional and responsibility orientation?

8. Develop a plan of action that make university administrative system students centric and create credibility to the deliverables?

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.

Source: E-mail May 10, 2006


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