Leadership development for middle leaders in a Lao tertiary institution

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Mahavong, Anongsack
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Howse, Jo
Cardno, Carol
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
higher educational institutions
middle managers
professional development
educational leadership
Mahavong, A. (2014). Leadership development for middle leaders in a Lao tertiary institution. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Recently, the education reformation in Laos has reinforced the higher education institutions to meet the national social-economic development plans. Consequently, more demands and expectations are placed on educational administrators at all levels, in particular middle leaders. The increased roles and responsibilities of middle leaders were required to be clarified, while more challenges or issues occurred in their practices. Regarding this, middle leaders need to obtain new knowledge and abilities for embarking on their roles and responsibilities, and the challenges. This qualitative research investigated the perspectives of senior leaders and middle leaders in relation to middle leaders’ leadership practices, challenges or issues facing middle leaders, leadership development opportunities and the core elements of a proposed leadership development programme for middle leaders in a Lao higher education institution. Two methods of data collection were employed: a semi-structured interview with four senior leaders and a questionnaire with forty middle leaders from the presidential board, five faculties, six offices, and two centres. The findings of this research revealed roles of the middle leaders associated with three dimensions, academia, administration and politics in which each dimension constitutes three main responsibilities: interpreting of the policies and strategies into action plans; implementing, monitoring and evaluating; and supervising. The study also indicated that a lack of experience in managing and teaching, ensuring a quality of learning and teaching with limited resources, poor coordination and collaboration and a lack of trust from colleagues were the major challenges for middle leaders’ practices. In addition, the leadership development opportunities for middle leaders were based on two dimensions of performance appraisal (professional and political). Moreover, the institution expected to develop a leadership development programme for middle leaders. Regarding this, the five core areas of knowledge and skills were suggested to be included in a proposed leadership development programme for middle leaders, including political knowledge, educational leadership and management, foreign language, communication and IT skills. This research highlights the need for the Ministry of Education and Sports, the higher education institutions, and senior leaders to acknowledge the importance of leadership development and a sound designing framework of leadership development for middle leaders in Lao higher education settings.
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