Academic leadership: perceptions of academic leaders and staff in diverse contexts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Universities have been coping with various challenges and pressures over the last decade. Therefore, capacity building for academic leaders is a critical point for universities to survive in this challenging era. Yet, existing studies suffer from several limitations. Among others, they do not consider the examination of academic staff members’ and leaders’ perceptions from diverse contexts, thus capturing insight into current practices. Using a qualitative study, we explored the perceptions of 18 academic staff members and leaders from eight Chinese and European universities, under which the perceived concept, a profile of effective academic leadership, and the motivators to become academic leaders from cross-cultural perspectives were emphasized. The results demonstrated that academic staff and leaders widely perceive the notion of academic leadership in diverse contexts as a complex concept. In addition, the findings provided several insights into understanding the profile of an effective academic leader who possesses a range of capacities and specific leadership styles. Furthermore, significant motivators that stimulate academic staff and leaders to pursue academic leadership positions were also examined and discussed. The results of this study can serve as a stepping stone for designing the framework used in leadership development programs as well as for collaboration in capacity development for university academic leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Management Administration & Leadership
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Academic leadership
  • university governance
  • Higher Education

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