Leadership in Open and Distance Higher Education
MetadataShow full item record
Distributed leadership is a valuable concept in terms of aligning leadership theory to changing conditions in post-industrial society. Changing economic, global and demographic formulations certainly play a role in organizational change, as suggested by scholars of the new institutionalism (e.g. DiMaggio & Powell 1991; Pierson 1994, 2004; Campbell 2004). It is, however, important to recognize the role of pre-existing organizational structures and cultures when attempting to understand changes in open and distance higher education leadership in the post-industrial context. Considering the importance of both current changing social conditions and past educational legacies, this research considers distributed models of leadership in open and distance higher education related to broader societal changes. Open and distance higher education may be an appropriate educational response to societal changes – are leadership models at work in this type of education as current and innovative as the model of education itself? Interview data was collected from a sample of senior and middle executives and faculty members from open and distance universities in Europe. The state of developments in ODE across the globe was thoroughly explored. Interview transcripts were evaluated regarding positioning of institutions and programs in relation to other societal factors. In particular, the notion of distributed leadership was explored. In support of both the work of Bennett, et.al (2003) and the complexities of distance and distributed learning, the following concepts support the notion of leadership in distance and distributed organizations: leadership should be seen as a network of interacting individuals and partnerships; the organization and relations require flexibility and boundary openness; projects and activities will be characterized by dispersed complexity, variability and collaborative action through relationships; central support acts as a hub of distribution.