Suggested Readings on Academic Leadership


The articles and books listed below have been specifically selected to assist department chairs and other academic leaders to enhance their knowledge and effectiveness. Most were selected because they will help academic leaders understand the university organization better or provide them with useful suggestions and strategies.

These references have been picked with the understanding that many department chairs and academic leaders are somewhat unfamiliar with the field of leadership and management and do not have a rich background on the topic. Consequently, most of the selections are relatively easy-to-read and offer common-sense tips and suggestions.

You will notice there are several suggested readings from the Harvard Business Review. The pieces from the Harvard Business Review are generally written by well-known authors who have distilled some of their best ideas into 7-10 page articles that can be read in about 30-40 minutes. They are written with the practicing administrator in mind and are generally very practical, condensing a great deal of information into a short piece.

Most of these references should be readily available in your campus library. If you have any trouble finding them, contact the President’s Academic Leadership Institute at 215 University Hall, 573-884-6754 or at and we will help you get a copy quickly.

References on Department Leadership

Bensimon, E. M., Kelly Ward, K. & and Sanders, K. (2000) The Department Chair’s Role in Developing New Faculty Into Teachers and Scholars Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Hiring new tenure-track faculty and seeing them through to tenure is an onerous responsibility for department chairs, with significant departmental and institutional consequences. This book is designed to help chairs with the three critical stages of junior faculty socialization: 1) recruitment and hiring; 2) the first year; and 3) evaluating new faculty performance. The authors offer concrete advice and activities; make extensive use of real-life situations; and provide generic examples of letters, checklists, and orientations that can be adapted to individual contexts.

Edwards, R. (1999) “The Academic Department: How Does it Fit Into the University Reform Agenda?” Change, 31(5), 17-27.

This is a very thoughtful article written by the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Nebraska. He discusses the important role academic departments play in promoting change and addressing concerns universities face today. It’s easy to read with lots of useful ideas.

Goleman, D. (1998) “What Makes A Leader?” Harvard Business Review, 76(6), 92-102.

This article is written by Daniel Goleman who developed the notion of emotional intelligence. Through his research, he has gathered evidence that there are several key elements that set successful leaders apart from others. These successful leaders have self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. It is easy-to-read and very informative.

Creswell, J., Wheeler, D., Seagren, A., Egly, N., & Beyer, K. (1990) The Academic Chairperson’s Handbook Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

A useful guide for department chairs. Written in an informative way, it has lots of good tips for department chairs, particularly the new chair. It contains useful ideas and strategies for dealing with some of the most common problems chairs encounter in their work. This short book is only about 100 pages but is full of information and specific examples on many issues such as the role of academic chair, mentoring new faculty members, improving teaching performance, improving scholarship, and addressing personal issues of faculty members. It is easy-to-read and a very useful tool for department chairs.

Hecht, I., Higgerson, M., Gmelch, W. & Tucker, A. (1999) The Department Chair As Academic Leader Phoenix: ACE/Oryx Press.

One of the more recent books on the role of department chair containing lots of useful ideas. One of the main authors is Alan Tucker who is considered one of the foremost authorities on the role of the department chair.

Toma, D. & Palm, R. (1999) “The Academic Administrator and the Law: What Every Dean and Department Chair Needs to Know” ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 26(5), Washington D.C.: The George Washington University.

A very useful guide on what most department chairs should know about the legal concerns they may confront. It provides background on a variety of legal issues and general information that will help department chairs guide their decisions. The author, a former UMKC professor, has both a PhD in higher education administration and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Tucker, A. (1984) Chairing the Academic Department: Leadership Among Peers ACE/Macmillian Publishing Co.

The classic work by Alan Tucker about chairing academic departments. Often referred to in subsequent writings on chairs’ roles with insights about how to be successful as a chair.

Lucus, A. (1994) Strengthening Departmental Leadership San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

A book written by a former chair of a management science department who has also worked with 6,000 department chairs at over 125 institutions. She discusses topics such as motivating faculty, faculty development, managing conflict, developing effective relations with the dean, and coping mechanisms for surviving the role as department chair. It contains lots of useful common-sense tips.

General Readings on Leadership

Bolman, L. & Deal, T. (1997). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

One of the most well known and better books on what leaders need to know to be successful in any number of settings. It discusses the multiple perspectives necessary to understand the cultural, human relations, structural and political settings within Universities. It was written by two world-famous authors, both of whom have been involved in the Harvard Institutes for university management and leadership. It is easy to read and one of the primary books used in previous Harvard leadership institutes. An added bonus is that Lee Bolman currently holds an endowed chair for leadership at UMKC.

Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (1995) The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This is one of the best known books on leadership with clearly articulated ideas for improving leadership abilities. Based on years of research with practicing managers, Kouzes and Posner discuss the main traits they found necessary for successful leadership including some very common-sense advice. It is a useful tool with lots of good ideas.

Schein, E. (1992) Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

A very good book describing how managing the culture and leadership are two sides of the same coin. Edgar Schein is an endowed professor of management at MIT and one of the founders of organizational psychology. The book is written for a general audience and is relatively easy-to-read for the new leader or manager.

Bolman, T. & Deal, T. (1995) Leading With Soul San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

A great light-hearted parable that focuses on leadership and personal growth. It is about 150 pages and a quick read. Interesting and fun to read and likely to inspire even those new to the job.

Morgan, G. (1997) Images of Organization Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

A very thorough book by Gareth Morgan, one of the most famous organizational sociologists. The book contains useful and in-depth analyses of complex organizations and covers topics such as the structure and culture of organizations, learning within organizations, and using metaphors to understand organizations. This is a good source for the student of organizations who would like a more in-depth analysis. It is also great as reference book.

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Organizational Learning

Nonaka, I. (1991) “The Knowledge-Creating Company” Harvard Business Review, 69 (6), 96-104.

One of the first easy-to-read articles on how to create knowledge within an organization and how to capture learning and communicate it to other employees. Short, yet very insightful, you can read this in about 40 minutes. This short article will help you think differently about useful organizational knowledge and how to share it within your organization.

Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1995) The Knowledge Creating Company New York: Oxford University Press. 124-159.

An excellent book with a detailed analysis of organizational knowledge and how to capture and use knowledge within today’s company. Well-written but more complex than the article above, it is useful for those who want more detail on organizational learning or a good reference book.

Garvin, D. (1993). “Building A Learning Organization” Harvard Business Review, 71, (4), 78-91.

A very good article with great ideas on how you can foster learning within your department. It contains lots of useful tips and suggestions on the important conditions for building a climate where employees learn and share knowledge with others.

Quinn, J., Anderson, P., & Findlestein, S. (1996) “Managing Professional Intellect: Making The Most Of The Best” Harvard Business Review, 74 (2), 71-80.

This piece includes great suggestions on how to manage knowledge-based employees. It is useful for the academic department chairs since much of the focus is on learning and knowledge creation. It contains useful tips from business that can help academic leaders.

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Employee Relations and Enhancing Working Conditions

Argyris, C. (1991) “Teaching Smart People How to Learn” Harvard Business Review, 69 (3), 99-109.

This is a classic by Chris Argyris. It encourages you to think about how to attack problems and ways to help “smart people” to stop thinking they are always right and find new ways to solve problems. One of the best known and most commonly referred to articles by one of the most famous organizational psychologists. Yet it is easy-to-read and is written for practicing administrators.

Katzenbach, J., & Smith, D. (1993) “The Discipline of Teams” Harvard Business Review, 71 (2), 111-120.

This piece includes great tips on how to encourage employees to work in teams. Drawing from experiences in industry, the military, and coaching, these authors provide the key elements necessary for successful teams.

Argyris, C. (1994) “Good Communication That Blocks Learning” Harvard Business Review, 72 (4), 77-85.

Another great article that elaborates on some of the original ideas discussed in the above article by Chris Argyris. There are some interesting conclusions about what we normally see as good common sense.

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Performance Management

Wedman, J. & Graham, S. (1998) “Introducing The Concept of Performance Support Using the Performance Pyramid” Journal of Continuing Higher Education 46 (3), 8-20.

Enhancing faculty or staff performance involves a number of elements within the department or university. This article offers an easy-to-use model that covers many of the issues associated with performance. Rather than suggesting “more training” to address all performance problems the models suggests ways to look at knowledge and skills, motivation and self-concept, performance capacity, expectations and feedback, tools and processes, and rewards, recognition and incentives. Easy to apply and a popular tool for organizational developers as well as several Missouri companies.

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Promoting Change

Kotter, J. (1995) “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” Harvard Business Review, 73 (2), 59-67.

A great article about the different conditions that prevent change from occurring. Written by one of the most prominent authors on change, this easy-to-read piece features common sense ideas for improving the likelihood of change. This article served as the basis for the book of the same name.

Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

This rather short book includes lots of useful tips on promoting change within the department or organization. It applies much of what Kotter has learned from working with companies and condenses it into about eight stages for promoting change. A very popular book with business leaders for its useful ideas—it is written in common sense language.

Beer, M., Eisenstat, R. & Spector, B. (1990) “Why Change Programs Don’t Produce Change” Harvard Business Review, 68 (6), 158-166.

One of the all-time favorite pieces that discusses why company-wide strategic change programs do not produce changes at the lower levels where the work often gets done. It provides common-sense tips for initiating change efforts and suggestions on how to make them work. A great hands-on tool.

Strebel, P. (1996) “Why Do Employees Resist Change?” Harvard Business Review, 74 (3), 86-92.

A good article on why employees resist change efforts. It includes suggestions on how to involve employees in change processes and overcome their natural resistance to change. This easy-to-read article helps you understand why the best laid plans sometimes stall out and sputter. Kanter, R.M. (1983). The change masters: Innovation and entrepreneurship in the American corporation. New York: Simon & Schuster. One of the classic books on promoting change and filled with useful tips on how to promote change, why change efforts stall, organizational conditions that either promote or inhibit change, and more. It is full of useful strategies that you can implement to promote change, build a support base for your ideas, and get things done in organizations. One of the best books ever written on change.

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Higher Education and It’s Culture

Tierney, W. M. (1997) “Organizational Socialization in Higher Education” Journal of Higher Education, 68 (1), 496 - 500.
Tierney, W. (1998) “Leveling Tenure” American Behavioral Scientist, 41 (5) 627-638.
Austin, A. (1998) “Making Tenure Valuable” American Behavioral Scientist, 41 (5), 736-755.

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Reviewed 2013-08-14.