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Top‐down management: an effective tool in higher education?

Yau Tsai (Fooyin University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
Sue Beverton (Durham University, Durham, UK)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 23 January 2007




The purpose of this paper is to explore the strengths and weaknesses of top‐down management in a university that has embraced globalisation with a strong market‐led ethos and to suggest the ways in which adjustments might be made to top‐down management processes.


The paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of top‐down management by drawing upon relevant literature and further explores its related problems through a case study of a department in the universities of one country.


Several studies have concluded that top‐down management through its exercise of direct power is still a preferable means of reducing the chaos resulting from teachers caught up in de‐stabilising and confusing change processes. In the current globalisation context, it is also concluded that the success of top‐down management is predicated upon a willingness or readiness of the faculty to allow it to exist.

Research limitations/implications

Although this paper explores the strengths and weaknesses simply through literature, it provides a case study to understand the problems with top‐down management in higher education. The case study illustrates some of the issues that may or may not be proved by ensuing or larger‐scale research to be generalisable, but for the specifics of this case the issues discussed would appear to be important.


This paper recognizes the importance of top‐down management to higher education in the global society and sheds light on how to make top‐down management more efficient in higher education.



Tsai, Y. and Beverton, S. (2007), "Top‐down management: an effective tool in higher education?", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 6-16.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited