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Title:Hybrid leadership: a study of the leadership (roles and characteristics) of nine Chinese university presidents with U.S. experiences
Author(s):Tian, Qingyan
Director of Research:Trent, William T.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Trent, William T.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Burbules, Nicholas C.; Greene, Jennifer C.; Alexander, S. Kern; Fields, Dail
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
higher education
hybrid culture
hybrid leadership
hybrid methodology
Chinese and American culture and leadership
Chinese leadership with global characteristics
global leadership
university presidential leadership
university presidential roles and characteristics
Chinese university presidency
Abstract:Globalization is producing an increasingly interconnected world with blurring political, economic, and particularly cultural boundaries among nations. The growing interconnectedness and the resulting hybridization of cultures call for leaders with compatible leadership abilities. However our existing leadership frameworks fail to answer the call. The field of leadership studies remains Eurocentric and dichotomized. This research is an exploration of a new leadership framework which responds to this changing dynamic. It is an exploratory interview study of the leadership (roles, characteristics, and experiences) of Chinese university presidents with U.S. experiences. Thirty-five participants in total were interviewed, nineteen of whom were university presidents. This report focuses on the findings from the interviews of nine university presidents with US experiences in addition to their experiences in other cultures. The participants are all from key second-tier universities in four large/developed cities in China. Each interview lasts about two hours. Data is analyzed and presented thematically. A western-Chinese hybrid approach has been used during the entire process of conducting the research. The interviewees’ accounts and the researcher’s Chinese and American hybrid interpretations dialogue dynamically for analysis. The identified themes on the leadership roles, characteristics, and the Chinese and American experiences and influences show that these presidents integrate and blend all they have learned from China, the U.S., and from other cultures to solve China’s problems. Their leadership roles and characteristics demonstrate Americanness, Chineseness, and elements from the other cultures they have been exposed to. More importantly, the presidents integrate these elements dynamically, creatively and adaptively, and their integration is contextual-personal contingent. These findings suggest an emerging leadership model/concept, hybrid leadership, as the researcher calls it. Hybrid leadership is a constant, fluxional, and dynamic blending of the global and local, of traits and behaviors, of the personal and contextual, and of the past and the present. It is shaped in the process when politically-economically-culturally defined leadership similarities and differences across cultures meet, negotiate, and integrate constantly, dynamically, and fluxionally according to the global-local context and individual’s values and behaviors informed by their global-local experiences. The leadership characteristics of the leaders are marked by global competencies, multiple cultural and sectoral mindsets, adaptable skill sets, and interdependent visions. Hybrid leadership rejects both the idea that one form of leadership is universally applicable and the notion that each culture is absolutely unique. Instead it recognizes the flow of knowledge and experience across international boundaries. It takes into consideration the interactions that result from the interconnectedness of modern life and how these interactions impact leadership. It also views culture as not static but continually evolving across time and location, hence leadership is not unique to an individual culture but is an integration or hybrid which results from these dynamic interactions. This model offers potentially a more compatible leadership framework with emerging global network societies than the existing theories. It provides a potential framework to develop new generations of leaders effective in the globalizing age. It also provides a timely and helpful tool for the training of academic leaders with strong implications for the training of leaders in other for-profit and non-profit sectors. On the theoretical level, this research has attempted to bridge four important gaps in the field of leadership studies and the study of higher education: the gap between globalization and leadership, between global leadership and academic presidency, between education and business, and between American and Chinese philosophical stances and research methodologies. It connects the discourse of globalization with the study of leadership by proposing a synthesized and blended dynamic global-local lens. By adding culture and globalization discourses into the study of higher education and its leadership, it breaks the U.S. universalism in the study of academic presidency. By blending higher education organization and leadership with business organization and leadership globally, it fills another blank in the field. By combining Western and Eastern philosophical stances and methodologies for conducting social science research, it breaks the post-positivist approach dominating research methodology in Western world. This research is just the beginning of an effort to explore a new framework which better fits the nature of today’s global-local hybridized culture. It tackles a pressing leadership studies issue: effective leadership in our new hybrid culture. However, another pressing higher education issue is not tackled in depth in this project. With universities being pushed into the global market place and the boundaries between nonprofit and for-profit organizations blurring, should higher education adopt some of the corporate leadership models? Is it possible to develop a global-local business-education hybrid model to provide some references for effective higher education leadership? To conduct the research on hybrid leadership, our dominant essentialist vs. non-essentialist philosophical stances and quantitative vs. qualitative methodological paradigms are inadequate. In this project, I proposed a fluid combination of Eastern and Western perspectives and methodologies to study leadership, but was unable to provide a theoretical framework. To conduct this type of research well, a hybrid approach and methodology is needed to blend the Western and Eastern philosophical stances and methodologies dynamically and fluxionally.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Qingyan Tian
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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