Title page for ETD etd-05042012-191747

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Damonse, Beverley Ann
URN etd-05042012-191747
Document Title Leadership through the lens of research productivity
Degree PhD
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof M Nkomo Supervisor
  • leadership attributes and behaviours
  • mentoring and supervision
  • scholarship
  • research leadership
  • research culture in higher education
  • research performance
  • leadership development
  • research career development
  • research capacity development
Date 2012-04-16
Availability unrestricted
Academic leadership in higher education in the 21st century is very different and more multifaceted than it was just a decade ago. Thus, given the multilayered, dynamic nature of higher education leadership at individual, group and organisational levels, a more nuanced understanding of its role in driving excellent research performance remains paramount. Hence, this study explores the professional and personal nature of research leadership that enables and stimulates high quality research performance.

The research explores the research career pathways of ten researchers from various disciplinary fields who had been rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and who were recommended by their education institutions as research leaders. The ten leaders were each interviewed about their research careers. Postgraduate students (47 in total) whom they had supervised were invited to answer an email questionnaire about their personal experiences of the leaders’ mentorship and leadership. In addition, information about the leaders and mentees was obtained from various documents such as curriculums vitae, research training records, institutional annual reports and web sites. The data collected and analysed in the study showed that the research career pathways of the research leaders were highly diverse and were affected in various ways by the historicalpolitical and social context of South Africa. However, across the career pathways, the research leaders had the following features in common: 1) the presence of strong research-centeredness throughout all career phases; 2) they lead by example of personal scholarship and intellectual leadership; 3) their research is locally relevant and globally competitive; and 4) their personal dynamics influence a confident and dynamic people-centred leadership approach. The most notable differences in research leadership across the sample could be traced to disciplinary contexts which ranged from distributed leadership across large teams and entrepreneurial networks to the more prevalent one-on-one mentor-mentee relationships. Leaders who were most influential in driving research performance were highly regarded scholars with extensive academic experience, had served a variety of leadership roles, confidently embraced the complexity of academic leadership and created stimulating research environments.

The research also reveals a number of challenges that still remain for research leadership in addressing the human resource transformation requirements of the South African higher education research context. These include issues of 1) individualism and competition; 2) equity and excellence; 3) race and gender; and 4) research career exit and entry paths. The South African higher education system is characterised by pockets of scientific excellence in some disciplinary fields, as illustrated by the career trajectories of leaders in this study, but much work remains to be done in order to build a fully representative research-performing professoriate for South Africa.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Damonse, BA 2011, Leadership through the lens of research productivity, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05042012-191747 / >


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  00front.pdf 136.03 Kb 00:00:37 00:00:19 00:00:17 00:00:08 < 00:00:01
  01chapters1-2.pdf 330.23 Kb 00:01:31 00:00:47 00:00:41 00:00:20 00:00:01
  02chapter3.pdf 262.08 Kb 00:01:12 00:00:37 00:00:32 00:00:16 00:00:01
  03chapters4-5.pdf 342.60 Kb 00:01:35 00:00:48 00:00:42 00:00:21 00:00:01
  04chapter6.pdf 259.57 Kb 00:01:12 00:00:37 00:00:32 00:00:16 00:00:01
  05chapter7.pdf 268.35 Kb 00:01:14 00:00:38 00:00:33 00:00:16 00:00:01
  06chapter8.pdf 251.94 Kb 00:01:09 00:00:35 00:00:31 00:00:15 00:00:01
  07chapter9.pdf 314.34 Kb 00:01:27 00:00:44 00:00:39 00:00:19 00:00:01
  08back.pdf 307.35 Kb 00:01:25 00:00:43 00:00:38 00:00:19 00:00:01

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