The changing roles of academic leaders: Decision-making, power, and performance

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Major reforms in the Nordic countries have increased the formal autonomy of higher education institutions (HEIs) to make decisions over their own activities, both academic core tasks and managerial/administrative activities. The issue addressed in this chapter is how these changes have affected the role of the academic leader. Across the four countries, we see clear signs of change regarding academic leadership comprising a mix of institutional logics in the interviews: The professional, collegial traditional academic leadership, which is based on rotating systems, election among peers, and collegial decision-making, has been complemented with, and in some places replaced by, a managerial logic with top-down order-giving, performance measurement and appointed managers as a new academic profession. Another related general trend is the greater focus on individual managers. The analysis also shows that Denmark and Finland are the countries that lead the way when it comes to increasing the formal authority of managers. The introduction of appointed managers rather than elected ones has altered the way HEIs operate in these two countries. However, as this chapter has shed light on, management reform has not been implemented in the same depth and with the same pace across and within universities.




Geschwind, L., Aarrevaara, T., Nordstrand Berg, L., & Krog Lind, J. (2019). The changing roles of academic leaders: Decision-making, power, and performance. In Reforms, Organizational Change and Performance in Higher Education: A Comparative Account from the Nordic Countries (pp. 181–210). Palgrave Macmillan.

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