Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration


Despite the enormous role that Chief Business Officers (CBOs) play in administering the business and financial affairs of American public universities, little research has been conducted on their leadership preparedness. The primary objectives of this study were to assess the self-perceived preparedness of U.S. public university CBOs at the time they assumed their first position in the role, and to determine if specific factors could be associated with their overall preparedness.

With support from the National Association of College and University Business Officers, a survey was developed and mailed to the entire population of CBOs at four-year public universities in the U.S. A 45% return rate was generated from the population of 575. Sixty-five independent variables were tested against the dependent variable of self-perceived overall preparedness. Categories included employment history, educational attainment, acquisition of professional certifications, type of institution the subjects were first employed at, participation in professional development programs, and demographic variables. The survey featured three indices that measured and tested 41 variables in the categories of CBO management functions and competencies, relationship management abilities, and the subjects' familiarity with their institutions. The survey also solicited information from the subjects regarding advice they would have like to have received when first starting their positions.

Seventeen variables were determined to significantly correlate with CBOs' overall perceived preparedness. These included knowledge of financial planning, ability to delegate tasks, ability to manage crises, overall management capabilities, and knowledge of contemporary issues in higher education. Knowledge of institutional policies, facility maintenance processes, budgeting processes, board governance procedures, and the institution's role in the state's overall higher education system were also considerably associated with overall perceived preparedness. A significant relationship existed between overall perceived preparedness and the earning of baccalaureate and master's degrees in business related fields and doctorate degrees in higher education administration. A content analysis of the advice shared by the subjects generated 10 leadership qualities and five management competencies integral to success in the CBO role. A model of CBO leadership preparedness, illustrating four evolving dimensions of the role, was created based upon the research.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access