Higher Education

, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 763-779

First online:

Improving leadership in Higher Education institutions: a distributed perspective

  • Jitse D. J. van AmeijdeAffiliated withHuman Resources Division, The Open University Email author 
  • , Patrick C. NelsonAffiliated withHuman Resources Division, The Open University
  • , Jon BillsberryAffiliated withFaculty for Business, Environment and Society, Coventry University
  • , Nathalie van MeursAffiliated withMiddlesex University Business School

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This paper reports on a qualitative study exploring how distributed patterns of leadership manifest themselves in project teams within a Higher Education institution. The emphasis is on both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of distributed leadership, thus providing an account of the nature of distributed leadership in higher education and the factors which were found to enhance and inhibit its occurrence and effectiveness. The findings are presented in a model of distributed leadership which seeks to provide an integrative account and a framework for further study. The conclusions focus on both the theoretical implications for the study of distributed leadership and the practical implications for HE institutions wishing to promote effective leadership.


Leadership Distributed Project teams Higher education Qualitative