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Impact and effectiveness of leadership and management in academic health sciences
  1. Claire Donnellan
  1. Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Claire Donnellan, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia; c.donnellan{at}

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Leading and managing within higher education institutions (HEIs) is more challenging than ever with reduced governmental support, changing demographics and increasing pressure for future funding. The emphasis for HEIs is efficiency in producing the maximum amount of educational service for a given budget.1 In more recent times, senior leadership, and management roles to include heads or deans of schools and faculties, involve increasing student admission rates in response to HEIs strategic executive demands and governmental policies, in addition to managing all other financial business affairs. The recent unforeseen COVID-19 global pandemic as an unexpected event for university leaders and managers highlighted the extension and importance of their role for directing protocols and policies regarding student and staff well-being and health, requiring them to draw on all available resources or supports.

Becoming a leader and manager in academic health sciences is especially challenging for individuals with no prior clinical experience in healthcare leadership or management. In HEIs, heads of schools and/or faculties are expected to perform both leadership and management roles combined that are far more complex and demanding in practice compared with how these roles are described in the theoretical literature. The parallel between HEIs and healthcare settings is also of great importance for recognising the skills and expertise that is required for strategic leadership and management in health science departments and faculties, with reference to personnel coming from a healthcare background and may have no formal experience or training in management and leadership executive teams. The aim of this commentary is to outline conceptualisations and associated factors for effective leadership and management in HEIs, relevant to academic health sciences; and determine effective leadership and management including use of performance expectations’ indicators, and available criteria and frameworks for guidance. The changing trends across HEIs influencing leadership and management and …

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  • Contributors The author confirms sole responsibility for the following: article conception and design, analysis and interpretation of background literature, and manuscript preparation.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.