Terms and definitions

Leadership: Definitions of leadership vary by the theory used and the field in which leadership is being proffered. Leadership in post-industrial, post-Fordist society must embrace the collaborative, recursive nature of the context. This means a focus on the leader is no longer adequate; leadership must be defined as the collaborative activities that the leader and followers do together to carry out organizational imperatives. According to Beaudoin (2007), leadership is a set of characteristics and behaviors that together enable organizations, and the individuals in them, to create optimal organizational conditions for realizing organizational goals.

Organizational climate: This ambiguous concept is often compared to the concept of personality in individuals. Climate refers to the enduring characteristics of organizational life. This is noted by individuals operating in coordination with the organization. Climate can be seen as “positive” or “negative,” dependent upon the ability of the characteristics of organizational life to realize its public functions effectively. Positive or negative climate can also refer to the perceived comfort of individuals working in the organization, and one’s sense of fit with organizational characteristics.

Culture: In reference to organizations, culture is a system of common and shared beliefs, values and perspectives about the work the organization does, and the context in which the organization operates. This influence affects patterns of interaction, patterns of common duties and activities, and choices made by leaders.These patterns then allow actors (people) in the organization to create and recreate the patterns of action and functional systems that sustain and/or change the organization.

Faculty development: This refers to maintenance and/or improvement of competence for academics employed in the position of faculty member. This is a term borrowed from human resource vernacular that describes professional or staff development. For faculty, development may fall into multiple categories: development related to improved scholarship, development related to course design and teaching or other kinds of training/ career enhancement.

Role: A sociological construct describing a collection of behavioral requirements associated with a certain social position in a group, organization, or society.

Strategic planning: Strategic planning in the twenty-first century requires iterative activity of discussion and consensus building to clarify shared direction and build commitment to future direction and priorities; attention to continuous change and the dynamic environment is what makes this planning strategic.

Questions for reflection

  • 1. What are the central challenges faced by higher education in the current social and economic climate?
  • 2. How can leadership actions remedy these situations?
  • 3. What makes higher education institutions unique in relation to leadership strategies?
  • 4. What are the central requirements of a strategic plan? How must these be shaped in reference to higher education?
  • 5. What will the higher education institution of the future look like?

Significant contributor

Prof. Chen Li is Vice President, Beijing Normal University and Professor, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University. She obtained her Bachelor degree in Electronics and her Masters degree and PhD in Education Technology from Beijing Normal University. Prof. Chen has been working in Beijing Normal University since 1988. She initiated the Masters degree program and PhD program of Distance Education in Beijing Normal University, the first and only university in China to deliver a degree program in Distance Education. Prof. Chen has been teaching the bachelor-level courseThe Foundation of Distance

Education, master-level course Frontier Discussion on Distance Education, and PhD-level course Theory and Practice of Distance Education. Prof. Chen is leading a project established by the Ministry of Education, Strategic Research on Education Innovation by Disruptive Technology.

Her research mainly focuses on interaction principles of online learning, disruptive education innovation by the Internet, and policy for lifelong learning. She is also deeply engaged in policy consulting in online learning and lifelong learning. She has authored and published more than ten books and 100 papers.

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