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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Smart capital : the social networks of university presidents

  • Author(s): Gross, Scott M.
  • et al.
Abstract

Public higher education is in crisis and is begging for strong, effective leadership to ensure a sustainable future. This dissertation provides a brief history of public higher education, specifically in California, and reveals the desperate need for transformational changes in the way public higher education is offered. Such change will likely be initiated by leaders, both existing and emerging. As a variety of leadership types may be helpful for higher education, this paper unpacks the meaning of different styles and their relevance to higher education. With the knowledge that relationships are at the heart of leadership, a review of social networks and an extensive study of social capital follows. After identifying a gap in the literature relative to the intersection of leadership and social networks, particularly within the context of higher education, this paper studied that phenomenon. Using a qualitative, phenomenological method, this study interviewed eight presidents from a public, state university system in California to reveal the intersection of their social networks with their leadership. The findings from the interviews and document analysis revealed six strategies these presidents use in building relationships. Considering the six strategies as themes, the relationship between the presidents' social networks and their leadership behavior emerged in the form of the Leadership-Network Reciprocation (LNR) model. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the LNR model and the implications for current and future presidents as well as other leaders in general

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