Original Research

Academic leadership and decision-making in institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe: Trends and tribulations

Victor C. Ngwenya, Nduduzo Phuthi
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 20 | a1982 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v20i0.1982 | © 2023 Victor C. Ngwenya, Nduduzo Phuthi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 April 2022 | Published: 02 December 2022

About the author(s)

Victor C. Ngwenya, Department of Economic and Management, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Educational Management and Leadership, Faculty of Education and Arts, Zimbabwe Open University, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Nduduzo Phuthi, Department of Institutional Research and Quality Management, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe


Orientation: The global technological and sociopolitical transformations sweeping across tertiary institutions demand dynamic, proactive and creative leaders who are capable of harnessing the various leadership and decisional skills the diversified experts possess through shared governance.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that academic leaders are endowed with leadership and decision-making skills and use a preferred situational style or model to attain organisational goals.

Motivation for the study: Tertiary institutions demand transformational leaders endowed with appropriate decisional skills and a participative culture for the attainment of organisational goals with the ultimate aim of achieving world-class standards in their volatile environments.

Research approach/design and method: Pragmatism informed the mixed methods approach (MMA) utilised. Qualitative data was generated from 10 purposely selected participants using open-ended questions of a case study design, while quantitative data was gathered from 58 systematically sampled respondents using a cross-sectional questionnaire survey. Samples were limited by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Main findings: The study revealed that the institutional leaders investigated preferred the transformational leadership style used in conjunction with the rational and creative decision-making models because they were found to be participative, innovative and compatible with the Ministry’s Education 5.0 policy. An eclectic approach was equally suggested.

Practical/managerial implications: Shared governance and collective responsibility were suggested in conceiving strategic plans as effective leadership and decision-making skills are not confined to a single individual.

Contribution/value-add: Managerial leadership in tertiary institutions must devolve power and flatten the organogram if leadership and decisional skills possessed by followers are to be tapped.


creative; laissez-faire; rational; transformational; transactional


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Crossref Citations

1. New trends in academic leadership: a synopsis of the state-of-the-art approaches
RumeliDE Dil ve Edebiyat Araştırmaları Dergisi  issue: 36  first page: 423  year: 2023  
doi: 10.29000/rumelide.1369531