Middle leadership in higher education

A relational analysis

Christopher Branson, Margaret Franken, Dawn Penney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The paper is informed by a research study exploring middle leadership as experienced by Chairpersons of Departments within one faculty in a university in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is argued that middle leadership in higher education needs to be understood as a highly complex relational endeavour, characterised by compromises that are negotiated amidst leadership structures, hierarchies and relations. The focus on leadership as first and foremost relational provides a frame for critically examining the nature and complexities inherent in the lived reality of middle leadership. Relational leadership is conceptualised as encompassing four inter-related dimensions. These are derived from data and respectively centre on structure and power; trust and credibility; learning; and discursive relations. We suggest that each dimension provides a productive lens through which the complexities and challenges of middle leadership can be explored. Throughout the emphasis is that for middle leaders, the relations that they have to navigate and negotiate are multi-faceted and multidirectional, involving relations up, down and across organisational structures and networks. Middle leaders are shown to be acutely aware that their decisions and the decisions of other staff variously impact upon the context and relations that they are working amidst.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128 - 145
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Management Administration and Leadership
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Cite this

Branson, Christopher ; Franken, Margaret ; Penney, Dawn. / Middle leadership in higher education : A relational analysis. In: Educational Management Administration and Leadership. 2016 ; Vol. 44, No. 1. pp. 128 - 145.
@article{43430114364446e8a2bd8ca40a4b1197,
title = "Middle leadership in higher education: A relational analysis",
abstract = "The paper is informed by a research study exploring middle leadership as experienced by Chairpersons of Departments within one faculty in a university in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is argued that middle leadership in higher education needs to be understood as a highly complex relational endeavour, characterised by compromises that are negotiated amidst leadership structures, hierarchies and relations. The focus on leadership as first and foremost relational provides a frame for critically examining the nature and complexities inherent in the lived reality of middle leadership. Relational leadership is conceptualised as encompassing four inter-related dimensions. These are derived from data and respectively centre on structure and power; trust and credibility; learning; and discursive relations. We suggest that each dimension provides a productive lens through which the complexities and challenges of middle leadership can be explored. Throughout the emphasis is that for middle leaders, the relations that they have to navigate and negotiate are multi-faceted and multidirectional, involving relations up, down and across organisational structures and networks. Middle leaders are shown to be acutely aware that their decisions and the decisions of other staff variously impact upon the context and relations that they are working amidst.",
author = "Christopher Branson and Margaret Franken and Dawn Penney",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1177/1741143214558575",
language = "English",
volume = "44",
pages = "128 -- 145",
journal = "Educational Management Administration and Leadership",
issn = "1741-1432",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "1",

}

Middle leadership in higher education : A relational analysis. / Branson, Christopher; Franken, Margaret; Penney, Dawn.

In: Educational Management Administration and Leadership, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2016, p. 128 - 145.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Middle leadership in higher education

T2 - A relational analysis

AU - Branson, Christopher

AU - Franken, Margaret

AU - Penney, Dawn

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - The paper is informed by a research study exploring middle leadership as experienced by Chairpersons of Departments within one faculty in a university in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is argued that middle leadership in higher education needs to be understood as a highly complex relational endeavour, characterised by compromises that are negotiated amidst leadership structures, hierarchies and relations. The focus on leadership as first and foremost relational provides a frame for critically examining the nature and complexities inherent in the lived reality of middle leadership. Relational leadership is conceptualised as encompassing four inter-related dimensions. These are derived from data and respectively centre on structure and power; trust and credibility; learning; and discursive relations. We suggest that each dimension provides a productive lens through which the complexities and challenges of middle leadership can be explored. Throughout the emphasis is that for middle leaders, the relations that they have to navigate and negotiate are multi-faceted and multidirectional, involving relations up, down and across organisational structures and networks. Middle leaders are shown to be acutely aware that their decisions and the decisions of other staff variously impact upon the context and relations that they are working amidst.

AB - The paper is informed by a research study exploring middle leadership as experienced by Chairpersons of Departments within one faculty in a university in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is argued that middle leadership in higher education needs to be understood as a highly complex relational endeavour, characterised by compromises that are negotiated amidst leadership structures, hierarchies and relations. The focus on leadership as first and foremost relational provides a frame for critically examining the nature and complexities inherent in the lived reality of middle leadership. Relational leadership is conceptualised as encompassing four inter-related dimensions. These are derived from data and respectively centre on structure and power; trust and credibility; learning; and discursive relations. We suggest that each dimension provides a productive lens through which the complexities and challenges of middle leadership can be explored. Throughout the emphasis is that for middle leaders, the relations that they have to navigate and negotiate are multi-faceted and multidirectional, involving relations up, down and across organisational structures and networks. Middle leaders are shown to be acutely aware that their decisions and the decisions of other staff variously impact upon the context and relations that they are working amidst.

U2 - 10.1177/1741143214558575

DO - 10.1177/1741143214558575

M3 - Article

VL - 44

SP - 128

EP - 145

JO - Educational Management Administration and Leadership

JF - Educational Management Administration and Leadership

SN - 1741-1432

IS - 1

ER -