22 SES 07 B JS, Policy, Management and Governance in Higher Education
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 22 and NW 26
In the last few years, there have been many changes in all the European Union nations, that, as well as the protocols of the Bologna Declaration, impact both on the University as an organizational system, and all the organizational and management processes in the higher education sector (Linas-Audet, Girotto, and Solé, 2011). This process of change involves a great concern for improving the quality of service provision across the university such as teaching, assessment, research, management systems (Llinàs-Audet et al., 2011). The main idea of the new education policy is to adapt the higher education sector to meet the demands and needs of the emerging global knowledge economy and the increasingly international market for higher education.
In relation to this issue, some authors consider that one of the weaknesses in the functioning of academic departments relates to their inability to address problems with the quality of educations offered by them at University (Zabalza, 2000) and draw attention to the lack of leadership, experience, resources and a shared aims within subject departments.
In order to understand how the higher education sector operates, this research utilises the concept of organization developed by Weinert (1985). Hence, the higher education system is characterised by a group of people operating within institutional boundaries, and limits imposed by a hierarchical authoritarian system, that is based on an unchanging environmental context and with common aims. To analyse the University as a dynamic system it is necessary to use the organisational theories of Weick (1996), Ball (1989), and Mintzberg (2005), which enables the identification of particular institutional attributes that must be considered when studying the University as an educational system: weakly articulated structure, professional bureaucracy and power and micropolitic, (political arena (Lopez and Rando, 2002).
Hence, when considering academic leadership, we must consider the importance of these system attributes within the University, while the organization is characterized by having a loosely coupled structure, without high levels of moral commitment and without certainty concerning the importance of what is done (Schein, 1994). The analysis is developed further by utilizing the concept of the effective leader, as laid down by Hogg and Vaughan (2010), who refer to an effective leader as one who has succeeded in setting new goals and influenced others to achieve, and this is the primary goal to which any department at the University should aspire. Some authors establish that those leaders with "democratic attitudes, charismatic, informal and persuasive have been identified as the most suitable for the development group, both as a human production" (Infante, 2008:101). Moreover, there are some recent international research studies that examine the analogy between leadership, departmental effectiveness and educational innovation in higher education (Breakwell and Tytherleigh’s, 2010; Kezar and Lesler, 2009; Stephenson, 2011). Such managers could play an important role as pedagogical leaders and become relevant for change by driving the departmental aims in accordance with the new and changing demands of the knowledge economy.
This research comprises a study of middle managers in higher education through the analysis of the role of heads of departments. The main question is, what is the perception of the middle-lined managers in Universities about their position, the tasks they develop, their feelings and needs?
The objectives are as follows:
- Analyze the aspects that characterize intermediate management positions at the University in order to identify profiles.
- Inquire about actual performance of heads of department and identify potential management styles associated with motivational profiles.
- Examine the perceptions and opinions about their post.
- Investigate their perception of the need for training for the post taking into account their difficulties in their everyday practice.
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