Perceptions of Leadership: Heads of Department in Arabic Universities



Madgali, JA
(2017) Perceptions of Leadership: Heads of Department in Arabic Universities. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

ABSTRACT Higher education institutions (HEIs) remain central to the intellectual, economic, cultural, technological and social life for the global community. These obligations create enormous pressure on institutions to position themselves at the leading edge of strategic change and innovation. Higher education everywhere faces massive changes, especially in the context of a competitive global economy. In this context, leadership has a significant impact on the performance and outcomes of all organizations, including HEIs. Consequently, exploring the kind of leadership behaviours and practice that are perceived as effective by peers, faculty, administrators and other stakeholders within HEIs has become increasingly important. Leadership in HE is critical at all levels, but Heads of Department (HoDs) are widely considered as key “building blocks” within university hierarchy. Higher education is expanding rapidly across the Arabic world and effective leadership will be critical for the success of this expansion. However, most literature draws upon European and North American experience and there is little work on Arabic higher education and on leadership in particular. This study therefore focuses on leadership at the level of the HoD in HE in Qatar, one of the GCC countries that is currently facing considerable pressure to expand HE and ensure its quality in response to the region’s rapid social and economic change. Using a qualitative approach based on a single case study, 39 interviews were conducted with different university stakeholders to identify what were perceived to be necessary skills and competences for HoDs to lead in HE. The study identifies a range of leadership characteristics, knowledge and behaviours that were viewed as essential for departmental leadership within HE. Significantly, the research has also demonstrated some differences of emphasis between leadership in higher education in an Arabic context compared with Western experience. The study further demonstrates those competences are influenced by contextual factors, such as societal and organizational culture, and the nature of the department and discipline, as well as specific characteristics of academic context. The study shows ways in which ideas of leadership at the level of the HoD in an Arabic university may differ from Western models discussed in much of the published literature. Important issues were also identified in terms of experience of taking on the role, challenges and opportunities, selection and appointment, career development and training that have received little attention until now in the context of universities in the Gulf region. The overall conclusion confirms the significant role of HoDs as leaders within the university. Recommendations are made regarding developments necessary to enhance leadership at the HoD level and for future research to understand the practice of leadership in the Arabic world. The thesis also provides important insights into the conduct of qualitative research in the Arabic context, and especially the role of the female researcher.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Fac of Humanities & Social Sci > School of Management
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2017 14:29
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2020 14:28
DOI: 10.17638/03009514
Supervisors:
URI: http://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3009514