The concept of strategic leadership in the development and improvement of higher education in the Republic of Benin : a qualitative case study of an African university

Koukpaki, Adebayo Serge Francois (2013). The concept of strategic leadership in the development and improvement of higher education in the Republic of Benin : a qualitative case study of an African university. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000bfb6

Abstract

This study explored the appropriateness of the concept of strategic leadership in the development and improvement of higber education in an African university called, for the purposes of tbis study, the AU3. It examined whether strategic leadership as it emerged in Western countries-had any resonance and relevance for the AU3, and explored the ways in which strategic leaders (SLs) interpreted and gave meanings to their roles. The study adopted a phenomenological approach with a qualitative case study design. A purposive sample of 20 strategic leaders was selected. The data collection instrument was semi-structured interviews. The research findings suggested that to enact strategic leadership the individual in the role should: be able to provide clarification of what helshe does and be able to understand the context in which he/she operates. The study contended that: strategic leadership requires three characteristics: elucidation - the ability to identify with their roles and responsibilities and link these to the strategic goals and mission of AU3; externalisation - the ability to consolidate their role tasks, provide evidence, and evaluate job tasks; and realisation - the ability to understand the complexity of their roles. The study further argued that SLs develop a distinctive shape of values and beliefs which impacted on the decisions they made. The study concluded with three types of leader: the 'emollient leader', who is concerned with 'hanging on in there', making the situation calmer in the hope of averting confrontation; the 'hypochondriac leader', who assumes constantly that something is wrong with their approach in performing their role, who is distracted by the environment and its constituencies; and the 'mirroring leader', who cannot see beyond their technical expertise. This study aims to help policy makers and those in charge of SLs' recruitment, selection, and development to better understand what competences are required to lead the university.

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