22 SES 04 E JS, Leadership in Higher Education
Paper Session Joint Session NW 22 with NW 26
Universities exist in challenging, fastly-moving contexts where policy shifts, mobile students and academics, personalized multimodal learning, intensified international competition for students and funds, industry partnerships, cross institutional alliances, standards and accreditation frameworks (Bologna), increased accountability and reduced funding (Altbach et. al, 2010) all impact how universities position themselves to face the future. A body of cross national literature demonstrates that universities have undergone significant organizational restructuring to prioritize and market themselves as a brand with increased focus on leadership or ‘leaderism’ (Gunter 2013). Indeed, leadership has become understood as critical to what are now increasingly complex multinational corporations with multiple, often contradictory, obligations and aims.
Scott et. al. (2010) argue that higher education literature fails to theorize change and yet fundamental change has been undertaken.Furthermore, change strategies have not been exceedingly helpful in their capacity to guide institutions, and we know even less about how to facilitate major, institution wide, change (Kezar and Eckel 2002). This paper examines how executive leaders in three universities un/consciously mobilise narratives through a process of storying about the necessity, nature and intended outcomes of change. In it we consider the source of the story, the production and articulation of the storyline, and the institutional effects. We attend to storytelling or institutional narratives as a mechanism for mobilizing change in universities.
In our study we employ Bourdieu’s (1996, 1990) concepts with regard to leadership habitus and the logics of practice that pervade the field of higher education. We argue, as does Kezar and Eckel (2002) that much leadership and change theory in the academy has been at a generalized level of corporate strategies. Our research reflects the change practices of many university executive managers in seeking external advice rather than internal expertise, resulting in institutional restructuring often designed by management consultants who treat universities as any other organization but fail to address the university’s specific core obligations and functions. The processes and practices of changing institutional cultures and practices, often context specific, are neglected. These questions suggest the potentiality of, and also problematize, concepts such as institutional and leadership habitus (Bourdieu 1997). We work with Bourdieu and through feminist theory to ask about the practices of agents and their interdependency and relationality in order to attend to the intricacies of change in universities (Adkins and Skeggs 2005, McNay 2000). We call upon Czarianwaksi’s (1997) notion of institutional narrative to uncover and scrutinize contemporary ‘leadership narratives’. The examination is twofold: what are the new narratives about leadership in the higher education sector, and how do leaders employ narratives / storying as part of their repertoire of strategies mobilized to undertake organizational change.
Adkins, L. and Skeggs, B. 2005. Feminism After Bourdieu. Blackwell, London. Altbach, PG, Reisberg, L & Rumbley, LE 2010, Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an academic revolution, UNESCO and Sense, Rotterdam. Bourdieu, P. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Polity, Cambridge. Bourdieu, P 1988. Homo Academicus, Polity, Cambridge. Bourdieu, P. 1996. State Nobility: Elite schools in the field of power. Stanford University Press, Standford C.A. Czarniawska, B. 1997. Narrating the Organization: Dramas of institutional identity. University of Chicago. Gunter, H. 2013. Distributed Leadership: a study in knowledge production. Educational Management, Administration & Leadership. 41(5): 556-581. Kezar, A. and P. Eckel. 2002. The Effect of Institutional Culture on Change Strategies in Higher Education: Universal Principles or Culturally Responsive Concepts? The Journal of Higher Education. 73(4): 435-460. McNay, L. 2000 Gender and Agency, Reconfiguring the subject in feminist and social theory. Polity Pres. Scott, G., S. Bell, H. Coates and L. Grebennikov. 2010. Australian higher education leaders in times of change: the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. 32(4): 401-418.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.