Research Output

Redefining leadership in a higher education context: Views from the front line

  The study aim was to investigate the perceptions of senior leaders within the sector to determine their views of the key challenges in contemporary academic leadership and to inform practice for the future.

Academic leadership is a key component of the success or otherwise of an academic institution. There is significant literature around the issue of academic leadership the emphasis of which is based around the perceptions of academic staff and how they would wish to be led.

The work was undertaken from an interpretivist perspective using a phenomenological research design to elicit an understanding of the views of senior managers through conducting semi-structured interviews and a focus group with senior university leaders. The interview process afforded the respondents the opportunity to recount their own experiences in their own terms with their own emphasis on what was important to them within the broad structure of the four core categories drawn from the literature: definitions of leadership; leadership in an HEI; academic leadership and leadership development.

The findings from this study provides a contribution through considering senior leaders perceptions on how best to lead the academic staff to maximise their contribution to the institution and ultimately to better serve the needs of students.

Practice implications include the forwarding of a framework for the consideration of the development of academic leaders within the Higher Education context.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 September 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Cook, M. C. Redefining leadership in a higher education context: Views from the front line. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Academic leadership, leadership development.

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