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Are business school deans doomed? The global financial crisis, Brexit and all that

Davies, Julie (2016) Are business school deans doomed? The global financial crisis, Brexit and all that. Journal of Management Development, 35 (7). pp. 901-915. ISSN 0262-1711

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Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on different types of university-based business school dean (BSD) in a context of insecurities within the business school business and more widely with changing business and educational models and disruptions such as the global financial crisis and Brexit. The position of the BSD is contextualised within the industry sector, institutionally, and in relation to individuals’ tenures to make sense of how BSDs are operating on a burning platform. A well established middle management strategic role framework is applied to the empirical data. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 50 one-to-one interviews were conducted with deans and their colleagues. Deans’ behaviours were analysed according to attention paid to “facilitating”, “synthesizing”, “championing”, and “implementing” strategic activities. Findings – Behaviours from primary professional identities as scholars and educators were identified as prevalent. It is suggested that to achieve greater legitimacy in declining mature markets, future deans will need to re-negotiate their roles to champion as public intellectuals the societal impact of business schools more widely in a context of shifting business and educational models. Practical implications – The study is relevant to current and aspiring deans and for those hiring and developing business school deans. Originality/value – The dean is conceptualised as a hybrid upper middle manager besieged by multiple stakeholders and challenges. Novel first-order insights into a typology of strategists are highlighted.

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