Academic leadership and leadership styles in strategic plans: a study of five top-ranked public universities in South Africa
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Public universities play a pivotal role in society as they offer access to higher education to a broader range of the population. This has greater impetus for institutions in societies that have histories of political oppression or large economic disparities, such as South Africa. How these organizations define “leadership” and the organizations’ roles as “leaders”, and how that is portrayed to the public is therefore of great importance. This study conducts a textual analysis approach, using qualitative content analysis, of a purposeful (non-random) sample of the five top-ranked universities in South Africa to determine the leadership styles, defini- tions and narratives employed in their strategic plans to better understand how these universities position themselves in this regard. The research shows that while the strategic plans share similar core values such as a desire to be inclusive and foster transformation in society, the use of the two key research concepts differs as to how they are defined and to whom they refer. Better discussion and explanation of the responsibilities that university leaders have in achieving strategic goals, and the leadership role these organizations could and wish to play, could facilitate greater understanding and impact in the public sphere.