Managing Data Means Managing Mayhem: The Cultural Revolution Required for Data Administration


The culture of an organization is the set of behavior patterns which are transmitted by its leaders and members to set behavior standards or guidelines for actions. Behaviors which the organization wishes to support are reinforced through policies and reward structures while unwanted behaviors are discouraged via a variety of taboos or punishments. In the competitive and resource scarce environment in which today's universities operate, the rapid exchange and analysis of information within the organization is considered by many to be urgent for success. The "cultures" of many organizations, however, do not permit such "free" interchange. In fact, many universities have policies specifically against the exchange of information even between closely related departments.This paper will argue that one of a university's most urgent goals is to foster the exchange of high quality information within the organization in order to help achieve quality and competitiveness. If this is true, then we must first foster a revolution aimed at transforming the old culture so that the free exchange of information becomes a supported behavior rather than a taboo. To this end, we will discuss the steps being taken at Arizona State University to exchange our old culture for one which is more accepting of information interchange. We will present the policy structure developed and being developed by ASU's Data Administration Office in order that 'more people be given access to more data more easily.' We will discuss our standards and policies covering access, the use of a dictionary, and data security as well as the strides we have made in designing a unified information architecture and establishing a Client/Server model of a data warehouse. We will show how all these aspects work together to help provide a much improved environment for the strategic use of information.

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