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How does leadership development help universities become learning organisations?

Paul Gentle (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, London, UK)
Louise Clifton (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, London, UK)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to draw on empirical data to interrogate the correlation between participation in leadership development programmes by individual leaders and the ability of higher education institutions to learn organisationally from such participation.


Applying a multi-stakeholder perspective, this paper focuses on the experiences of both senior and entry-level university managers and how these are connected systematically to institutional climates and structures conducive to learning.


There is a tendency for vice chancellors, directors of human resources and other senior managers to identify participants to sponsor programmes without putting in place mechanisms and cultural processes to incorporate their individual learning into organisational improvement.


The paper raises questions as to how societal needs are served by the organisational behaviours of universities with respect to developing leaders, and what higher institutions might do differently to increase the impact of developing leaders on their organisations. Suggested approaches include facilitating constructive dialogue in an experimental, reflective environment and integrating action learning and mentoring into institutional practices.



Gentle, P. and Clifton, L. (2017), "How does leadership development help universities become learning organisations?", The Learning Organization, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 278-285.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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