Professors as intellectual leaders: formation, identity and role

Bruce Macfarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on leadership in higher education is predominantly concerned with the role of formally designated senior managers such as heads of department and deans of faculty. By contrast, relatively little attention has focused on those performing informal and distributed forms of leadership, such as (full) university professors. This article draws on the results of an online questionnaire and interviews to explore the leadership role of professors, primarily in a UK context. Professors feel that there is a mismatch between their priorities and those of their employing institutions and that their expertise is under?utilised. A number of qualities are identified which may be associated with the role of a professor as an intellectual leader: role model, mentor, advocate, guardian, acquisitor and ambassador. It is argued that new managerialism and performative expectations are reshaping the role of the professoriate, and that institutions need to do more to develop their leadership capacity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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