Leadership of Major Organisational Change in a Research Intensive Institution: implementation of a devolved leadership and management model

  • Rosalynd Mary Jowett

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In changing and unpredictable environments, higher education institutions need to adapt their models of leadership to ensure sustainability and continued development. The evidence base on how leadership is implemented as a part of major institutional change is limited. This research critically examined a model of organisational change through the implementation of a devolved model of leadership and management in a research intensive institution. The aim of this research was to identify the key characteristics of the activity and gain an understanding of the working relationships in the implementation of the model. The research used an exploratory case study drawing upon Activity Theory. This single site study illuminates a detailed understanding of the complex and unfolding interactions underpinning the practice of leadership of change and other factors in the institution. Participants for the study included senior executive staff, senior academic staff with education leadership roles, senior administrative and experienced academic staff at school level. Data was collected from semi structured and focus group interviews and relevant institutional documents. This research reveals key emergent themes which are a sense of ownership and empowerment, a shift in power and influence, the education and research interface and the dynamics of leadership. This study offers a deeper understanding of the process and practice of leadership of change in one large, research intensive university which is predicated on leadership as an activity, relationship building and empowerment of individuals. The research findings do not suggest that a devolved model is a panacea for major organisational change but that it does have the potential to liberate new ways of thinking and working. However, specific tensions became apparent from implementation of this model and these required identification, management and attention. While these tensions may not be unavoidable, a framework for managing them is proposed, based on the research outcomes, for the leadership of change, namely a framework for the leadership process in a rapidly changing environment in a research intensive institution. This research is concerned with the practice of leadership of change on the education aspect of a research intensive institution but key principles emerge which have the potential for application to other situations of major change in the higher education sector.
Date of AwardDec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

Cite this