A case study of distributive leadership among academic administrators at a public university in Malaysia

Kajian kes kepimpinan distributif di kalangan pentadbir akademik di universiti awam di Malaysia

  • Khalip Musa Fakulti Pengurusan dan Ekonomi, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjong Malim, Perak, MALAYSIA
Keywords: distributive leadership, mission, vision, organizational goals, organizational culture, leadership practices, shared responsibility


Public universities are undergoing a rapid role change. This led to a change in the leadership practices of university academic administrators. There was a clash between the tradition of autonomy with the emergence of control and monitoring from central agencies. Distributive leadership is seen to have the potential to offer a more balanced form of leadership in this changing environment. This qualitative study aimed to explore the level of distributive leadership practices among academic administrators in a public university in Malaysia. A case study was selected as the study design. Gordon’s (2005) distributive leadership model, based on four main dimensions namely mission, vision and organizational goals; organizational culture; leadership practices; and shared responsibility have served as a guide in developing the objectives and questions of the study. Study data were collected using interview techniques based on semi -structured questions. A total of 15 respondents consisting of deans, deputy deans, and heads of academic departments were involved. Interview data were analyzed through a systematic coding process to find categories or themes. Based on the theme analysis on the four main dimensions of the study, the highest theme that emerged consistently was the leadership practice dimension, followed by the shared responsibility dimension, vision dimension, mission, organizational goals, and organizational culture dimension. In conclusion, the findings of the study indicate that distributive leadership practices among academic administrators were widely implemented and comply with the key principles of distributive leadership. These findings indicate that university leaders are able to practice distributive leadership in an effort to adapt to a changing environment.


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How to Cite
Musa, K. (2021). A case study of distributive leadership among academic administrators at a public university in Malaysia. Management Research Journal, 10(2), 78-92. https://doi.org/10.37134/mrj.vol10.2.6.2021