Emira, M, Brewster, S, Duncan, N and Clifford, A (2018) 'What disability? I am a leader! Understanding leadership in HE from a disability perspective.' Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 46 (3). pp. 457-473. ISSN 1741-1432

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143216662923


This article is based on the findings of an externally funded, mixed-methods research project conducted at one English university. This small-scale project aimed to examine leadership, barriers to becoming a leader and the support needed to overcome them, from the perspectives of disabled staff. An online questionnaire was sent to all 66 members of staff who had disclosed their disabled status to the university and 22 responses were received. Twelve participants were then interviewed as two focus groups to discuss their views on leadership and its relation to their role. Six more respondents opted for individual face-to-face/telephone interviews. The findings indicated that over half of the respondents were already engaged in ‘formal’ leadership and even more exercised ‘informal’ leadership. This key finding seems to contradict the under-representation of disabled academics in leadership reported in the literature. Despite their engagement in leadership, disabled staff faced several institutional and personal barriers. The findings suggest that having an impairment per se might not necessarily deter disabled staff from exercising leadership. A number of support strategies are recommended to facilitate their participation in (formal) leadership.

Item Type: Article

First published 21 November 2016.

Keywords: Higher education, management, formal and informal leadership, disabled staff, support strategies, United Kingdom
Divisions: Institute for Education
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2018 14:47
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 17:04
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