Socrates in the Boardroom

Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should Be Led by Top Scholars

Amanda H. Goodall
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7rtq1
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Socrates in the Boardroom
    Book Description:

    Socrates in the Boardroomargues that world-class scholars, not administrators, make the best leaders of research universities. Amanda Goodall cuts through the rhetoric and misinformation swirling around this contentious issue--such as the assertion that academics simply don't have the managerial expertise needed to head the world's leading schools--using hard evidence and careful, dispassionate analysis. She shows precisely why experts need leaders who are experts like themselves.

    Goodall draws from the latest data on the world's premier research universities along with in-depth interviews with top university leaders both past and present, including University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann; Derek Bok and Lawrence Summers, former presidents of Harvard University; John Hood, former vice chancellor of the University of Oxford; Cornell University President David Skorton; and many others. Goodall explains why the most effective leaders are those who have deep expertise in what their organizations actually do. Her findings carry broad implications for the management of higher education, and she demonstrates that the same fundamental principle holds true for other important business sectors as well.

    Experts, not managers, make the best leaders. ReadSocrates in the Boardroomand learn why.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3158-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE THE ARGUMENT
    (pp. 1-23)

    Around the year 870, a bridge was built across the river Cam in England. In 1209, in that location, by then named Cambridge, one of the world’s first universities was established. Nearly eight hundred years later, Cambridge University appointed its 344th and most recent president, or vice chancellor (VC),¹ Alison Richard. Richard is the first woman to lead Cambridge University. She is a distinguished anthropologist who spent her academic career at Yale University, from which in 2003 she left the position of provost to join Cambridge. Just a year later, in 2004, another long-standing English university installed its 270th vice...

  6. CHAPTER TWO LEADERS OF THE WORLD’S TOP UNIVERSITIES
    (pp. 24-45)

    The most prestigious and wealthiest universities arguably have the widest choice of leadership candidates. If it can be shown that they appoint top scholars as their leaders, this could be one form of evidence that, on average, better researchers may make better university presidents.¹ Economists would call this a form of “revealed preference” (about the organizations’ underlying objectives). As suggested earlier, scholarship is not viewed here as a proxy for either management experience or leadership skills but somethingin additionto that. However, a priori, if what really matters in a leader is managerial ability, it would not be expected...

  7. CHAPTER THREE DEANS OF THE TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS
    (pp. 46-54)

    Universities are made up of collections of units, such as faculties, schools, academic departments, and others. They differ in size and focus, and importantly they have their own leadership. It was shown in the last chapter that on average the world’s top universities appoint more highly cited scholars to lead them. In this chapter, I examine whether a similar pattern exists in a particular unit within universities—namely business schools. I ask: are better business schools also being led by better scholars?

    Schools of medicine, law, education, and business are, arguably, more complex than traditional academic departments, because they straddle...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR IS THERE LONGITUDINAL EVIDENCE THAT SCHOLARS IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR UNIVERSITIES?
    (pp. 55-78)

    Better scholars lead better universities. The earlier evidence has shown this in a variety of settings. A correlation does not prove causation, but for causation we must first have a correlation. What we do not know from the patterns presented in chapters 2 and 3 is whether more cited leaders are actually more effective. It may be that scholar-leaders are being picked for reasons other than their academic past as researchers. Scholarship might just be a proxy for management ability or leadership skills. Alternatively, elite universities, like those in the U.S. Ivy League, might choose distinguished faculty as leaders for...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE WHY CHOOSE LEADERS WHO ARE SCHOLARS? WHAT UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS SAY ABOUT IT
    (pp. 79-105)

    There are a number of main sections to this chapter, and all draw upon qualitative material from interviews with twenty-six leaders—mostly presidents but also deans—in American and British research universities (see appendix 1).

    The interviews with university leaders seem to bring us closer to potential explanations of the preceding chapters’ data, although in order truly to understand the transfer or “how” mechanisms, through which scholars may actually influence performance, would require further detailed case studies. To assess how leaders influence their organizations is inevitably challenging. This is because there is much other noise in the data, which makes...

  10. CHAPTER SIX HOW DO LEADERS GET SELECTED?
    (pp. 106-123)

    This chapter looks at how university leaders are chosen. Universities are important institutions for the world, and I have tried to argue empirically that those who lead them make a difference to the performance of universities. Hence, leaders matter. My work attempts to reach across borders, because universities the world over have approximately the same remit. The exact methods by which leaders are selected differs across countries. Yet on average it is usual for members of university boards to hire presidents, vice chancellors, and rectors. This is also the norm in the commercial world—boards hire CEOs.¹

    In this chapter,...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN EXPERT LEADERS AMONG PROFESSIONALS, IN SPORT AND THE ARTS
    (pp. 124-135)

    In many walks of life, over the last two decades, expectations about service quality have risen and greater choice has driven competition. The movement toward a more managerial culture has meant, not unnaturally, a greater focus on how to choose and train leaders, and this issue is faced by corporations, partnerships, and nonprofits. Should a U.S. federal bank select an economist as CEO or a manager? For a law firm that prides itself on offering clients the best service in Zurich, ought it bring in a managerial tier at the top or send those interested in moving from partner to...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT IN CONCLUSION
    (pp. 136-140)

    Research universities should be led by brilliant scholars, not merely talented managers. That, at its simplest, is this book’s underlying message. In proposing it, I have drawn upon qualitative evidence from interviews with heads of some of the world’s best-known universities, and upon quantitative evidence of various kinds. My focus has been on research universities, but the message of the book may be a wider one. In a range of settings in which knowledge is central to an organization, it will often be desirable to let experts, not expert managers, be at the helm. This is partly because over decades...

  13. Appendix One Data Collection
    (pp. 141-146)
  14. Appendix Two Bibliometric Data
    (pp. 147-152)
  15. Appendix Three The Sample of Universities and Business Schools
    (pp. 153-158)
  16. Appendix Four The Decline of Nobel Prizes in Europe
    (pp. 159-162)
  17. Appendix Five Analysis of All Departments (Those Rated Top-5 in the RAE)
    (pp. 163-166)
  18. Appendix Six Notes from a Department Head
    (pp. 167-168)
  19. References
    (pp. 169-180)
  20. Index
    (pp. 181-184)