Managerial leadership competencies of heads of departments: a case study of higher educational institutions in Kerala, India

Doctorate other than PhD

Crosthwaite, Cheryl. 2010. Managerial leadership competencies of heads of departments: a case study of higher educational institutions in Kerala, India. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Business Administation. University of Southern Queensland.

Managerial leadership competencies of heads of departments: a case study of higher educational institutions in Kerala, India

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorCrosthwaite, Cheryl
SupervisorErwee, Ronel
Swanepoel, Ben
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Business Administation
Number of Pages340

The higher education sector (HES) has seen many changes in recent decades. The HES has not escaped challenges to do with globalisation, including the pressure to become more competitive. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) globally are also faced with the need for greater accountability. These challenges lead to the need for improved managerial leadership in and of these organisations. The HES is a key driver of economic growth, particularly in developing countries, such as India. Indian HEIs, though, have been described in the literature as having inappropriate managerial structures, with poor administration, leadership and HR practices. The exploratory and descriptive research underpinning this dissertation revolves around the required managerial leadership competencies (MLCs) of Heads of Departments (HoDs) at Kerala HEIs. The interplay between the contextual settings of the HEIs and the required MLCs is considered and options of how these competencies can be developed are explored. The HEIs studied, as part of this research, are all located in the State of Kerala, India, and were selected to represent the maximum variation of types in this sector namely universities, colleges (one private and one public) and a ‘deemed university’. This case study thus reflects information collected at six separate case organisations. In each embedded case the HoDs from six departments were interviewed. Each HoD also completed an analytical tool designed for this research - the Kerala Universities and Colleges Analytical Tool (KUACAT). Relevant available information was also scrutinised. In addition, Superiors of the HoDs were interviewed and focus groups were conducted with followers and with other HoDs. All of which ensured data triangulation. It has been found that Kerala HEIs face issues similar to that reported in the literature about other HEIs in India but also some different organisational challenges than reported in respect of HEIs internationally. Key findings from this study include: lack of funding; lack of political will for quality improvement; political influence and corruption; outmoded management and leadership practices; lack of HR sophistication; and a less than satisfactory work culture within HEIs. Although some aspects of culture and organisational context interplay with some of the MLCs, the vast majority of required MLCs were found to be similar to competencies as elucidated in the Competing Values Model (CVM) of Quinn et al (2003), which originate from a western environment. The conclusions from this study are fourfold. Firstly, whilst there is some variance across the different case organisations, overall 24 competencies were identified as being required by HoDs in Kerala HEIs. Secondly, 83 percent of the identified MLCs were found to be generic supporting the school of thought that most MLCs are similar for managers, irrespective of contextual aspects such as culture, industry sector or organisational context. Thirdly, it was found that there were three organisation/sector and one job specific competencies, supporting the perspective that contextual setting should not be ignored when the aim is to identify and develop MLCs of relevant managers. Finally, a clear need for developing the MLCs of HoDs at Kerala HEIs has been identified however challenges in this regard seem to be linked to lack of HR and managerial effectiveness, political and cultural issues. HoDs were clearly able to identify the process by which the development of MLCs should occur. A number of theoretical implications flowing from this research are pinpointed including the potential usefulness of the CVM. Two key implications for policy makers of the Kerala HES are pointed out with regard to direction and funding issues. Finally, recommendations are made regarding developing the MLCs of HoDs at Kerala HEIs.

Keywordsmanagerial leadership competencies, higher education, India, competing values model, culture
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350710. Organisational behaviour
350799. Strategy, management and organisational behaviour not elsewhere classified
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