2018 AIR National Survey of IR Offices: Topic Briefs

IR Office Teamwork and Efficiency

This brief is one of a series of reports. Learn more at airweb.org/nationalsurvey.

While it is important to consider analytical and technical skills when hiring new institutional research (IR) staff members, leaders should also consider their offices’ needs and how well candidates fit within the types of work produced, the priorities of stakeholders served, and overall work culture of the office and institution. In the 2018 AIR National Survey of IR Offices, we asked IR leaders to evaluate their staffs’ work quality, efficiency, and effectiveness as well as their abilities to develop interpersonal relationships, communicate effectively, and contribute to teams.

Evaluation of Staff Work Styles by IR Office Leaders

Factor analysis revealed two staff-related factors: (1) staff efficiency and effectiveness and (2) staff teamwork and collaboration.

Within the “efficiency and effectiveness” factor, staff members

  • produce quality work,
  • adhere to standards for ethical use of data,
  • work efficiently, and
  • work effectively.

Within the “teamwork and collaboration” factor, staff members

  • employ good interpersonal relationship skills,
  • effectively communicate results of their work,
  • work together as a team,
  • build relationships across the institution,
  • collaborate with colleagues across the institution in support of student success, and
  • continually seek to improve their knowledge and skills.

Teamwork and Collaboration vs. Efficiency and Effectiveness

While these two factors have high mean values in the aggregate across IR offices, individual IR offices vary greatly in these areas. In Chart 1, we plot individual IR office values for these two factors: staff efficiency and effectiveness on the x-axis, and staff teamwork and collaboration on the y-axis, both with a range from 1 to 5. A 45-degree line crosses where the values of both factors are equal.

Chart 1. IR Staff Teamwork and Collaboration vs. Efficiency and Effectiveness

Leaders of IR offices above the line rated their staffs as having better teamwork and collaboration compared to their ratings of efficiency and effectiveness, while leaders of IR offices below the lined rated their staffs as being more efficient and effective in comparison with their abilities to work as team members and collaborators. Some leaders rated these areas as equal (responses on the line).

These findings highlight the value for IR office leaders to assess the teamwork, collaboration, effectiveness, and efficiency of their staffs to identify opportunities to leverage strengths, areas for improvement, and ways to ensure colleagues possess the ranges of knowledge and skills needed to best serve their institutions.


The 2018 AIR National Survey of IR Offices attempted to survey IR office leaders at more than 3,000 postsecondary degree-granting institutions. Institutions of all sectors, types of control, and sizes were included in the sample. In total, responses represented 1,167 institutions, and 566 of those institutions completed the survey in full. To ensure comparable results, incomplete responses are excluded from this report. In addition, responses from for-profit institutions, administrative units, international institutions, private not-for-profit 2-year institutions, and institutions in U.S. territories are excluded due to low response rates.

This Report

The findings presented in this report are based on 543 responses that represent U.S. postsecondary, degree-granting institutions at public 4-year, public 2-year, or private not-for-profit 4-year institutions.