Rethinking the 'L' Word in Higher Education: The Revolution of Research on Leadership (2006).

Author:Chandler, Frances
Position:Rozana Carducci - Book review

Rethinking the "L" Word in Higher Education: The Revolution of Research on Leadership (2006)

Adrianna J. Kezar, Rozana Carducci, Melissa Contreras-McGavin.

Change is a word that has been repeated time and again during this election year in the United States, but research administrators have understood its meaning all too well over the last decade. We have struggled, in this era of rapid change, to be effective and credible administrators while juggling seemingly incompatible values and norms from the various environments within which we work. For example, we function in an academic milieu that values brain power while traversing another where fiscal frugality, efficiency, and quick results rank higher on the scale of acceptability. We also function in an environment where it seems that new knowledge is produced at lightning speed but funding agencies, politicians, and other members of the community think it is not adapting quickly enough to keep pace with changes in the non-academic community.

Balancing competing values is the mainstay of what we do, and our effectiveness is increased when we enhance our own understanding of the leadership role we play in the development of projects that cross cultures within and outside our institutions. We can be better equipped to assume this role by learning as much as we can about past and present theories and practices related to leadership, especially in an academic setting.

Rethinking the "L" Word in Higher Education: The Revolution of Research and Leadership, provides us with information that will help us understand philosophical and theoretical changes that have taken place during the last 15-20 years in the field of academic leadership. This book, modeled after Bensimon, Neumann, and Birnbaum's 1989 publication, describes past and emergent theories of leadership in higher education from 1989 to 2006. The authors, Kezar, Carducci, and Contreras-McGavin, embarked on this project not knowing how daunting it would be as they unearthed a glut of information that had to be organized and summarized in a manner that would appeal to the scholar and practitioner alike.

They have been successful in publishing a document that does just that. It provides researchers and research administrators with a recent history of leadership theory development while at the same time focusing on the market-driven environment within which policy makers and bureaucrats make decisions on funding for academic institutions. The authors do an excellent job of bridging the cultural divide between academic and non-academic viewpoints, and it is this approach that is particularly useful to research administrators as they manage projects influenced by values and norms from both sides.

The book is divided into eight chapters, with the first being a discussion of the need to study leadership in academia, followed by a chapter on paradigms in leadership philosophy. The third and fourth chapters outline modern theories and concepts such as ethics and spirituality, collaboration, social change, and globalization. By the fifth chapter the authors have focused more closely on how these changing approaches have had an impact on academic leadership during the last 20 years. The authors note that the traditional studies of leadership, with a focus on power and influence, trait,...

To continue reading