n South African Journal of Higher Education - The Janus effect : contradictory demands placed on the academic chairperson




The purpose of this article is to gain a deeper understanding of the multidimensional nature and complexity of the challenges academic chairpersons appointed at institutions of higher learning experience. A qualitative research approach was chosen to gain a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon under investigation by means of a focus group of 24 academic chairpersons. The findings indicate that academic chairpersons are inundated with responsibilities. They have to find a balance between the various roles, responsibilities and tasks originating from two opposing roles - that of scholar versus that of administrator/manager/leader - forced into one, while lacking the necessary administrative/managerial/leadership experience, skills and knowledge for their role as managers. This study provides higher education institutions and role-players responsible for the appointment, support and development of academic chairpersons with the evidence required to substantiate the necessity of redesigning this role.


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