EDEV_507 Week 5_3

Thanks for posting an article that develops your interest in leadership pipelines. I can see readily where this paper can fit into the wider conceptual framework of your thesis development. Williams’ (2009) organisation of the paper in line with ‘deanships’ makes perfect sense given the definition of business school leadership as a reflection of the mission statement and that the dean has the most control over the school’s direction.

Two statements in the methodology section stood out to me. (1) The research did not set out to test any particular hypotheses; as such it mirrors a piece of ‘grounded research’ (Williams, 2009, p. 128), and (2) The plan was to interview all those individuals who had an influence on the development of the school during the period 1966 to 2005” (ibid.). These statements seem to be contradictory. There are a number of assumptions in (2): firstly, that those influential individuals are high ranking academics; and secondly, that the institution developed only according to the dictates of the mission statement (or at least the wishes of the dean), i.e. that ‘development’ is synonymous with structural changes directed at that level of the organisation. I do not wish to denigrate this excellent paper, but for our learning purposes here, I think that it’s important to explicate the implicit notion of historiography that focusses on the ‘great man’ perspective, an older theory of history that has largely been replaced by those that de-emphasise the impact of any single individual.

The perspective in this article avoids the view of students, of more detail at the individual level. Williams’ (2009) account is structural functionalism in the Parsonian model (Ritzer, 2011). That this perspective was implicit in the choice of interview respondent belies statement (1) because a base theory assumed in (2) is that the development of the school over the various deanships is the result of structural alterations.


Ritzer, G. (2011). Sociological Theory. Sociological Theory (8th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Williams, A. (2009). Leadership at the Top: Some Insights from a Longitudinal Case Study of a UK Business School. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37(1), 127-145.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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