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Title: A Chinese perspective on distributed leadership at the departmental level in a Chinese university
Author: Lu, Xintong
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 4166
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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Distributed leadership has become one of the most popular and important leadership models in the West, particularly in the field of education. However, both theoretical and empirical research into distributed leadership in the Chinese Higher Education context is rare. This dearth of literature motivated the researcher to conduct this study of a Chinese perspective on distributed leadership at the departmental level in a Chinese university. The aim of the research was to determine the extent to which leadership is distributed at the departmental level and the factors which influence leadership distribution in the Chinese context through the perceptions of Chinese Heads and other members of their Departments. Multiple cases studies in four different university departments were adopted as the overall research approach. Each case study consisted of mixed methods research, utilising censuses, i.e. studies of all the members of each department, through questionnaires, followed by semi-structured interviews. Each case study comprised questionnaire censuses of leaders and staff members, plus interviews with samples of each. An additional set of interviews were carried out with university leaders, with the aim of examining the phenomenon from the institutional perspective. The findings indicate that although the term 'distributed leadership' may not have been fully recognised by respondents, they did have a good understanding of its basic conceptual descriptions. Appropriate environments for the distribution of leadership had been established in each department in all of which leadership is distributed to some extent although the extents vary between departments. The mechanism of distributed leadership within the departments is mainly through role descriptions and designated jobs, which is theoretically called 'formal distribution'. In addition, pragmatic distribution and incremental distribution were also discovered, revealing the developing phase of top-down leadership approaches. Within this study, distributed leadership was thought to be advantageous for organisational development, staff's self-efficacy and student performance. However, factors which may hinder its development were found to be the attitudes of some formal leaders, staff members' low willingness to participate in leadership activities, the University's centralised management system, and some elements of the Chinese culture. The main cultural elements thought to affect the distribution of leadership include collectivism, socialist elements, patriarchy, worshipping of tradition, enterprise, and moral and ethical self-cultivation. The importance of leadership training for all the staff members was also generally understood. This study helps both domestic and foreign scholars to understand distributed leadership within the Chinese traditionally hierarchical context, implying that leadership distribution in its practical application can coexist with hierarchical organisational structures. The findings of the research also point to the importance of context-specific approaches to social science research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: China Scholarship Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L Education (General)