Leadership in the Virtual Higher Education Environment: Towards an Appropriate Model and Framework

  • Luz Longsworth

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


Research into leadership in the higher education environment has traditionally mirrored business related constructs. Many of the models and instruments that have been developed for the business environment such as the transactional transformational leadership dyad have been transposed to the higher education environment with relatively minor adaptation. On the other hand, there has been relatively little exploration of leadership models for the Virtual Organisation. This research brings together the literatures of virtuality and the virtual organisation, leadership and higher education management to interrogate the effect of virtuality on leadership styles within the volatile global higher education environment caused by the liberalisation of the sector. Through a case study of a higher education institution (HEI) that is developing a virtual campus, the research explores the perceptions of leadership skills, competencies and behaviours within the virtual higher education environment to determine whether a new model or framework can be developed for a virtual and widely distributed environment. The data from interviews, surveys and focus groups carried out in the case study show that virtuality does impact leadership skills in nuanced ways, thus proposing a configuration of behaviours, skills and competencies more relevant to the virtual higher education environment. The proposed framework adds to the literature on leadership in higher education as well as leadership in the virtual environment and contributes to practice in the areas of recruitment and training of leaders and managers in the virtual higher education sector.
Date of Award1 Dec 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAndroniki Panteli (Supervisor)


  • higher education management
  • virtual organisation
  • virtual university
  • leadership

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