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What's Research Got to Do with It? Middle Leadership in the Modern University

aLa Trobe University, Australia
bDeakin University, Australia
cUniversity of British Columbia, Canada

Leading under Pressure

ISBN: 978-1-80117-359-9, eISBN: 978-1-80117-358-2

Publication date: 15 August 2022


During the latter-half of the twentieth century, researchers argued that the notion of universities being communities of scholars that were governed by scholars had been replaced by a mass-market higher education system. The new system is shaped by competition for students, a need to be budget conscious and, ultimately, a requirement for university leaders to be able to approach their work with a certain level of business acumen. This chapter examines what these pressures mean for those working at the middle level of university leadership, when they are increasingly appointed on managerial expertise but make decisions about academics and their work. Using Bourdieu's notions of fields to dissect these relationships, the chapter uses semi-structured interviews with faculty deans to examine how their work is guided by managerialist targets but impacts on their relationships with academics. The chapter highlights that, while the sector has acknowledged that successful leaders do not always need research profiles in the modern university, this often has a negative impact on leaders' relationships with academics.



Heffernan, T., Macaulay, L. and Bosetti, L. (2022), "What's Research Got to Do with It? Middle Leadership in the Modern University", Chitpin, S. and White, R.E. (Ed.) Leading under Pressure (Transforming Education Through Critical Leadership, Policy and Practice), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 185-198.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Troy Heffernan, Luke Macaulay and Lynn Bosetti. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited