Academic leadership in the post-covid era for research and teaching practices

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Kulakoğlu B., Emil S., Zayim Kurtay M.

5th International Higher Education Conference (IHEC) 2021, 14 - 16 October 2021

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In organizational cognition studies focusing on higher education institutions (HEIs), it is emphasized that HEIs could not be thought apart from open system thinking (Neumann, 2012). There are five major aspects of open system thinking as inputs, organizational processes, outputs, environmental factors and feedback loop. In that system, being affected by the environment in three purposes of HEI, teaching, research and community service, is inevitable as experienced in internationalization practices, Bologna process, the business-management like approach to HEI admi- nistration, global “do more with less” policies, global rankings, pressure on HEIs to compete like companies and COVID-19 pandemic. According to Mitroff and Anag- nos (2001), ‘crisis’ is a term just as ambiguous as how, when and why a major cri- sis occurs in organizations. Generally, crisis is considered under two categories as man-made crisis and natural disasters (as cited in Booker, 2014, p. 17). Although natural disasters are predictable for organizations to prepare action plans, there is a human factor amplifying the negative effects of natural disasters making its effe- cts unpredictable (Mitroff &Anagos,2001). Therefore, Mitroff (2005) suggests that to manage crisis effectively, the response to a crisis must be proactive rather than reac- tive; every organization should have at least one scenario for different types of crises such as natural disasters, human resources, government regulations, and external economic attacks. If the beginning of the most significant and recent global health crisis –the COVID-19 pandemic- is considered, this suggestion would make sense. HEIs responded to this global health crisis reactively not proactively in terms of how to implement the main practices attributed to HEIs. Especially, all educational and research-based activities had to be carried out via online environments by disrupting campus events occurring in intellectual, social, physical and cultural aspects for all stakeholders of HEIs. In light of global statistics, initiatives and the state of higher education in the pandemic era, it can be said that all around the world, the pandemic pushed HEIs to reconsider existing epistemological assumptions for current higher education and learning (Peters et al., 2020). In this crisis, the actions of academic leaders became important to understand how HEIs responded to the pandemic and how HEIs could be prepared for post-COVID times. Therefore, leadership in HEIs had never been compelling as much as the times of pandemic for academic leaders where the health and security of staff and students are the number one priority (Bebbington, 2020). Neumann (2012) emphasized that standpoint is important in expe- riences, perceptions and assumptions regarding organizational processes. Therefore, the standpoint of academics adds different perspectives to story told about academic leadership. In light of this, the main focus of the study is to understand how academics in educational administration and planning (EAP) programs perceive academic leadership in pandemic era particularly to manage the transformation in teaching and research practices. The participants of this study will be selected from the academics in EAP programs from diverse universities because it is believed that they could merge their expert knowledge in the field of management, planning and leadership in educational organizations with their experiences during pandemic term to evalua- te what was done in the pandemic era and what should be done in the post-pandemic era in the Turkish HEIs. In that sense, research questions are “How do academics in EAP programs perceive the academic leadership in the pandemic era in terms of re- search and teaching practices?” and “What are the expectations of academics in these fields from academic leaders in post-COVID era to use this crisis as a push factor in transformation of teaching and research practices?”. In order to explore the phenomena from the perceptions of academics in EAP programs about academic leaders in crisis moments appeared in teaching and research practices, the phenomenological research design will be used. Phenomenological study focuses on the experiences of individuals shaping their thoughts, perceptions and assumptions regarding a phenomenon (Creswell, 2013; Patton, 2002). Data collection instrument for this study will be semi-structured interviews. Academics in different universities in the EAP prog- rams will be selected through maximum-variation and snowball sampling methods. The findings of this study are expected to highlight the importance of academic leadership in crisis management through the experiences, expectations and perceptions of academics in EAP programs. Also, whether academics in EAP programs perceive the roles attributed to academic leaders in presidency, faculty and department levels in crisis management differently could be another finding. Moreover, the expectations of academics would reveal “how”s of academic leadership for the transformation of research and teaching practices during and after major crises.


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