University leaders and university performance in the United Kingdom: is it ‘who’ leads, or ‘where’ they lead that matters most?
- 698 Downloads
With key performance indicators (KPIs) part of everyday life in the higher education (HE) sector, universities have become increasingly concerned with league tables and performance indicator-led strategy and planning. The choice an institution makes concerning the KPIs it wishes to be evaluated on depends on its mission and objectives, with a Head of Institution (VC) appointed to deliver against this. As such, this raises the question as to whether institutional performance can be related in any way to the characteristics of its leader. The purpose of this research, therefore, was to identify any empirical justification for the socio-demographic characteristics which those responsible for searching and appointing VCs appear to have favoured over the past 10 years. Also, whether these can be shown to be related to the performance of their institutions. Using data available in the public domain and for UK (excluding Scotland) VCs in service for, at least, some time during 1999–2004 inclusive, evidence for the importance of VC characteristics for institutional performance was limited. Indeed, our findings suggest that, whilst the performance of a university may be ‘moulded’ by the characteristics of its’ leader, most of the variability is explained by non-leadership factors. We also found highly significant correlations amongst the KPIs used in HE, which has very significant implications for those wishing to differentiate themselves from other institutions.
KeywordsPerformance KPI University Head_of_Institution Characteristics
- Bargh, C., Bocock, J., Scott, P., & Smith, D. N. (2000). University leadership: The role of the chief executive. Buckingham: SRHE/Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Breakwell, G. M., & Tytherleigh, M. Y. (2008a). The characteristics, roles and selection of Vice Chancellors. London: Leadership Foundation in Higher Education Research and Development Report Series. Pdf available at LFHE site: http://www.lfhe.ac.uk/research/projects/breakwellbath.html/. Accessed 29 December 2009.
- CUC. (2006). CUC Report on the monitoring of institutional performance and the use of key performance indicators (pp. 1–51). Sheffield: University of Sheffield.Google Scholar
- Finkelstein, S., & Hambrick, D. C. (1996). Strategic leadership: Top executives and their effects on organizations. St Paul, MN: West.Google Scholar
- Goodall, A. H. (2009). Socrates in the boardroom: Why research universities should be led by top researchers. Princeton: Princeton U P.Google Scholar
- Greiner, L., Cummings, T., & Bhambri, A. (2002). Whennew CEOs succeed and fail: 4-D theory of strategic transformation. Organizational Dynamics, 32(3), 1–17.Google Scholar
- Hall, R. H. (1977). Organisations: Structure and process (2nd ed.). Prentice-Hall, NJ: Englewood Cliffs.Google Scholar
- Hannan, M. T., & Freeman, J. (1989). Organizational ecology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- HEFCE. (1999). Performance indicators in higher education in the UK 1996–97, 1997–8. HEFCE. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Pubs/HEFCE/1999/99_66/main.htm. Accessed: 29 December 2009.
- HEFCE. (2008). Counting what is measured and measuring what counts? HEFCE. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Pubs/HEFCE/2008/08_14/. Accessed: 29 December 2009.
- Helmlich, D. L. (1976). Succession: A longitudinal look. Journal of Business Research, 4, 355–364.Google Scholar
- Pfeffer, J. (1981). Power in organizations. Mass, Pitman: Mansfied.Google Scholar
- Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. R. (1978). The external control of organisations: A resource dependence perspective. Harper and Row: New York.Google Scholar
- Samuelson, B. A., Galbraith, C.S., & McGuire, J. (1985). Organizational performance and top-management turnover. Organization Studies (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG.), 6(3), 275.Google Scholar
- The Dearing Report-National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education. (1997). Online: http://www.hero.ac.uk/uk/inside_he/government_and_higher_education/major_education_reports4024.cfm.
- Wasserman, N., Nohria, N., & Anand, B. N. (2001). When does leadership matter? The contingent opportunities view of CEO leadership. Strategy Unit Working Paper No 02-04, Harvard Business School Working Paper No 01-063. Google Scholar
- Yorke, M., & Longden, B. (2005). Significant figures: Performance indicators and ‘league tables. A report for SCOP. http://www.hope.ac.uk/research/iherd/docs/significant-figures.pdf. Accessed: 22 July 2007.