All academic and professional services staff and students are invited to a workshop on co-operative leadership in higher education on Thursday 25th May, 10-12pm, UL111 (University Library, 1st floor).
Researchers in the RiCES group are exploring the extent to which co-operative leadership and other co-operative practices are present in higher education institutions. The purpose of the research is to develop a qualitative self-evaluation tool that university staff and students can use to enhance and develop co-operative leadership and other co-operative practices in their workplaces and in other aspects of student life.
Over the past year, we have been developing our work through group discussions and interviews with people involved with the co-operative movement. This work has been substantiated with case study research in a co-operative school, an employee-owned high street retailer, a large grocery worker co-operative and a co-operative university in Spain
We have identified a number of core principles which appear to underpin co-operative leadership and other co-operative practices:
- Knowledge – the production of knowledge and meaning by the organisation as a whole
- Democracy – the levels of influence on decision making
- Bureaucracy – not only administration but a set of ethical and moral principles on which administration is based
- Livelihood – working practices that support the capacity to lead a good life
- Solidarity – sharing a commitment to a common purpose inside and outside of the institution
The research from which these principles have been identified will be presented at the workshop.
You will have the chance to discuss the extent to which these core principles are present within your own working and learning and teaching environments. We will all then spend time designing a self evaluation tool by which these core principles might be recognised within our own and other higher education institutions.
This self evaluation tool can be seen as an alternative to the metrics and measures approach based on positive methodologies and methods that are currently imposed on universities by the government. The self evaluation tool that we are designing implies a more qualitative, humanist, critical-practical reflexive approach to evaluating and valuing the work that we do.
RiCES members, Prof. Mike Neary and Dr. Joss Winn have been awarded a grant from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education to study co-operative leadership. Below, are the project aims, take from the project website:
The aim of this research is to explore the possibility of establishing co-operative leadership as a viable organisational form of governance and management for Higher Education. Co-operative leadership is already well established in business enterprises in the UK and around the world (Ridley-Duff and Bull 2016), and has recently been adopted as the organising principle by over 800 schools in the United Kingdom (Wilson 2014). The co-operative movement is a global phenomenon with one billion members, supported by national and international organisations working to establish co-operative enterprises and the promotion of cooperative education. The research is financed by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education’s small development projects fund.
Higher education in the UK is characterised by a mode of governance based on Vice-Chancellors operating as Chief Executives supported by Senior Management teams. Recent research from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education on Neo-collegiality in the managerial university (Bacon 2014) shows that hierarchical models of governance alienate and de-motivate staff, failing to take advantage of research-based problem solving skills of staff operating at all levels, not accounting for the advantages to organisations when self-managed professionals interact with peers on matters of common purpose, particularly in knowledge-based industries.
The co-operative leadership model for higher education supports the ambition for more active engagement in decision-making to facilitate the best use of academics’ professional capacities, but framed around a more radical model for leadership, governance and management. Members of the co-operative university would not only be involved directly in decision-making and peer-based processes that make best use of their collective skills, but have equal voting rights as well as collective ownership of the assets and liabilities of the co-operative (Cook 2013). This more radical model builds on work done recently as part of a project funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation to establish some general parameters around which a framework for co-operative higher education could be established (Neary and Winn 2015). One of the key issues emerging from this research is the significance of co-operative leadership – the focus of this research project.