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Title: Leadership and Organizational Change: A Study in Tanzanian Universities
Authors: Ngirwa, Coletha; S0207811
Issue Date: 20-Jun-2013
Abstract: Effectiveness of organizational change initiatives depends to a large extent on employees? positive perceptions of and attitudes towards these changes (Armenakis, Harris, & Mossholder, 1993). Leadership is crucial in creating these positive attitudes. Research has associated accomplishing favorable change outcomes with leaders? fairness in procedures and interactions with employees, meeting their basic needs (Bernerth, Armenakis, Feild, & Walker, 2007; Cobb, Wooten, & Folger, 1995 in Folger & Skarlicki, 1999). Gappa, Austin, and Trice (2007) describe in their “essential elements” model six central academic needs: respect, flexibility, employment equity, professional growth, collegiality, academic freedom and autonomy. This thesis aims to explore to what extent different leadership styles are used to manage employees? motivation in organizational change processes, and to what extent this leadership meets basic needs of academic staff in Tanzanian Universities. Leadership styles can be framed as leaders? behavioral approaches (Bass, 1990), or “the way in which the manager typically behaves towards members of the group” (Mullins, 2005, p.291). We focus on three such behavioral approaches: directive, participative and ethical leadership. Directive leaders? behaviors comprise: instructing, controlling, power centralization, and dominating, while participative leaders? behaviors involve: interacting, facilitating, empowering, involving, and “power sharing” (Cruz, Henningsen, & Smith, 1999; Mullins, 2005; Yukl, 2010, p.32). Ethical leadership is demonstrated in behaviors such as fair treatment, honesty, trustworthiness and a sincere consideration of employees? concerns (Brown, Treviño, & Harrison, 2005). This thesis explores the use and effects of these three leadership styles. Given the context of higher education in Tanzania, we expect directive leadership to be most prominently used; however, not meeting needs of academic staff in change initiatives. Furthermore, participative and ethical leadership are important to create motivation for change, also in this context. This doctoral thesis aims to contribute to leadership theory in four ways. First, we study leadership and change management in higher education; an understudied field, however, with specific characteristics. Second, we study this in Tanzania, one of the countries with a poor economy, but with a rapid growing population and high pace changes in higher education. Hardly leadership studies have been conducted in this region and domain, and we contribute to leadership literature in ethnographic sense. Thirdly, we explore the motives for leadership to use directive and coercive styles in change management. As this leadership typically is described as ineffective, nevertheless used regularly. Fourth, we contribute to the literature by examining how ethical leadership relates to employees? commitment to change. So far, this has not been done. We used a mixed methods (sequential) research design (Creswell, 2009). Leadership and employees? perceptions were explored using qualitative methods (in the 1st phase) and quantitative methods (in the 2nd phase) in four universities in Tanzania. In each university, institution documents were analyzed, followed by interviews with top management, deans and academic staff. In addition, a unique sample of academic staff filled in surveys (N =257). The thesis comprises of five chapters. Chapter one offers a general introduction, motivation to the study, research questions, hypotheses, and research methods. Chapter two encompasses a review of the history of change management of higher education in Tanzania. Central management has shown a unilateral style and forced changes, creating a resistant culture within higher education. Chapter three involves a qualitative study exploring the ways top leaders in Tanzanian universities lead organizational changes, and the effects of this leadership on employee motivation to change efforts. The findings reveal that leaders most frequently practice a directive leadership style and hardly consider employees? needs. Chapter four presents results of the quantitative study, relating ethical leadership to employees? evaluation of change management and commitment to change. Chapter five comprises a general discussion on the theoretical and practical merits and implications of the studies.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Occupational & Organisational Psychology and Professional Learning - miscellaneous

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