Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of leadership culture and analyse how leadership cultures are produced in higher education reforms, in a hybridised discursive context of traditional academic values and emerging managerialism and leaderism.
Design/methodology/approach: Building on a perspective on leadership as a cultural phenomenon emerging in processes in which societal, sectorial and professional discursive resources are invoked, this study adds to earlier studies on how notions of leadership are involved in the transformation of higher education organisations. To this end, the method combines a traditional qualitative study of change initiatives over a long period of time with participative observation. Focusing on two vignettes, the analysis centres on how several discursive resources are drawn upon in daily interaction.
Findings: The emergence of hybrid leadership cultures in which several discursive resources are drawn upon in daily interaction is illustrated. This paper emphasises how hybrid cultures develop through confirmation, re-formulation and rejection of discursive influences.
Research limitations/implications: An extended empirical material would enable further understanding of what cultural constructions of leadership that become confirmed, re-formulated or rejected. International comparisons would also enrich the analysis.
Practical implications: This paper may influence leadership, leadership development and change initiatives in higher education organization.
Social implications: Higher education organizations are crucial for societal development and this paper contributes to better understanding how they are changing.
Originality/value: The perspective proposed builds on recent developments in leadership studies and expands the means for focusing on social processes rather than individuals.
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2015. Vol. 11, no 3/4, 147-165 p.