University of Leicester
2022MuneneCPhD.pdf (5.05 MB)

An Exploration of how University Heads of Departments (HoDs) come to consolidate their leadership roles in the Zambian Context

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posted on 2022-03-13, 16:53 authored by Chaltone Munene
Given the widely recognised importance of effective leadership in universities (Hill, 2005) but not widely explored at the departmental level to provide insights on the roles and the required nature of leadership (Bryman 2007), this research responded to Haydon’s (2007) call to generate new insights into the formation of the leadership character of the HoDs, their accession to roles and the necessary experiences to profoundly consolidate their leadership roles. In line with the identity theory (Stets and Serpe, 2013), the research revealed that University HoDs’ development of the ‘self’ started in the family in which they were raised. Through the hidden curriculum (Dewey, 1933), school administration complemented on the family moral education, affirming Coulter and Robbins’ (2007) assertion that leaders develop their values at a young age from parents, teachers, friends and others and such values represent basic convictions about what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, good and appropriate behaviour is learnt from childhood at home and is reinforced at school.
Accession into roles was characterised by culture shock (Bush, 2016) as many found mammoth administrative functions, heavily laden with huge expectations, in which they were not adept. Even though many positively perceived their roles, most of them did not comprehend their leadership identity and lacked knowledge on strategic development and alignment. The majority of them pacified seniors for self-preservation (Bullingham and Vasconcelos, 2013).
Consequently, they craved reflective experiential learning (Earley, 2020) to develop requisite competencies to enable them to execute their roles effectively. The findings, therefore, confirm that Knowledgeability and expertise to lead effectively are closely tied to social relationships leaders develop with organisational members and profound understanding of the wider context (Knight and Trowler,2001) in which they are located and such learning is fostered by direct socialisation (Burke and Stets, 2009) into the dominant cultural capital.
These findings add to our understanding of the inherent gaps in how academics develop their Leadership Identity. The findings reveal the need to create coherence between understanding of person and leadership identities on one hand, and organisational context and expectations on the other. The findings will, therefore, enable policymakers to devise guidelines to foster the professional development of academics into leaders that would effectively contribute towards offering quality education in universities.



Christopher Wilkins

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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