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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Susanne Braun

Braun, S., Peus, C., Frey, D. & Knipfer, K. (2016). Leadership in academia: Individual and collective approaches to the quest for creativity and innovation. In Leadership lessons from compelling contexts. Peus, C., Braun, S. & Chyns, B. Bingley, UK: Emerald. 8: 349-365.

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter summarizes the specific challenges for leadership in academia with a focus on universities, and discusses recent approaches to facilitate the development of leadership abilities in this context. Individuals and groups in academia essentially strive for creativity and innovation through knowledge creation and transfer. Their performance is measured relative to specified targets (e.g., quality and quantity of publications, third-party funding, teaching and student supervision). We argue that in academia constant tensions between creativity and innovation on the one hand, and structures, procedures, and (legal) regulations on the other hand persist. This poses significant challenges to leadership. The chapter starts with a short characterization of the most pressing challenges and their implications for leadership. We then distinguish between leadership of universities (i.e., administrative leadership) and leadership in universities (i.e., research leadership). Next, we depict approaches that highlight leadership as a property of individuals and as a collective phenomenon in academia. Finally, we draw lessons for leaders and organizations who seek to create enabling conditions for sustained successes in the quest for creativity and innovation.