The Role of Leadership in the Strategic Management of Business Schools

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in analysing processes of strategic management and leadership in professionalized organisations such as law firms, hospitals and Universities. Profound change has been detected in the organisation of professional work (Greenwood and Lachman, 1996), with the rise of more active forms of senior management (such as Top Management Teams) even within traditionally autonomous professional work settings, including Universities (Neave and Van Vught; Reed and Deem). Such management may be acting at a strategic as well as at an operational level, working to secure large scale and fundamental change in traditional University settings. This is associated in the UK with a decline in public funding and the growth of alternative flows of finance so that Universities are becoming ‘more firm like’, led by their Business Schools as the most market based department.

But what type of strategic activity is emerging within University settings? There has been an interesting recent growth of literature on strategic management and leadership processes in University settings. The thesis will first of all review the general literature on schools of strategy (Segal Horn; Pettigrew et al, 2002) especially as applied to public sector settings (Ferlie, 2002) and professionalized organisations such as law firms (Greenwood and Hinings). We seek to identify high quality strategy texts which incorporate a subjectivist account of the leadership process as well as more formal analytic approaches and tools.

The research will then review the strategic management and leadership literatures as they have developed within University settings. Shattock (2003) covers a variety of different schools of strategic management and leadership, applying them to university settings.

Jarzabkowski (2002) writes from a more processual perspective on ‘interactive strategising’ in University Top Management teams.…Reed and Deem describe the rise of the New Public Management in University settings (see also Ferlie et al, 1996, on the NHS), picking out implications for senior management roles. Clark (1999)’s analysis of the new ‘entrepreneurial’ University such as Warwick suggests there are a number of key organisational characteristics such as a more active strategic core.

By contrast, Middlehurst (1993) writes about more subjective notions of ‘leadership’ in University settings. She distinguishes between different approaches to leadership, such as transactional (vs) transformational leadership; trait (vs) contingency leadership and individualistic (vs) dispersed leadership. Warner and Palfreyman’s (2003) collection of case studies of Universities in crisis suggest a number of leadership related themes such as managing turnarounds and profound organisational change. In this edition, Scott’s overview suggests that a number of the cases displayed both a failure of formal strategy and of senior leadership. Shattock’s (2003, pp91-93) review of the leadership literature as applied to University settings reminds us that appropriate leadership styles are likely to be moulded by the discipline: are Schools of Management more like hierarchical science departments or collegial arts and social science departments? Generally Shattock argues that a dispersed and more consensual approach is likely to generate academic ‘buy in’ to organisational change, although this may be mediated by whether the University is in a crisis or not.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherlGl Global Publication
Publication statusIn preparation - 2024

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