Leadership Dilemmas in Australian Higher Education: A Western Australian Case Study

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Holloway, D. A., & Holloway, D. J. (2008). Leadership dilemmas in Australian higher education: A Western Australian case study. In Proceedings of the International Conference on International Studies (pp. 473-489). Sintok, Malaysia: Universiti Utara Malaysia.


This is a paper that critiques the leadership approach and leadership practices in Australian higher education. Exclusive top-down leadership and decision-making is a key feature of the version of ‘managerialism’ that is prevalent in the Australian higher education sector. The main tenet of this paper is that the classical hierarchical, top-down leadership mindset is no longer relevant in the turbulent and dynamic organizational environment confronting modern universities in Australia or overseas. We use a qualitative case study of leadership philosophy and practices at Murdoch University to argue that there is a need to reframe and reconceptualize the role of leadership in higher education. Leadership is then redefined to be an important, but not exclusive, part of the organisational strategic and operational decision-making process. The adaptability and self-organising capability of the university workforce requires an inclusive, not exclusive, decision-making methodology.

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