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Med Educ. 2010 May;44(5):459-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03570.x.

Identifying challenges for academic leadership in medical universities in Iran.

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Research Center for Health Sciences (RCHS), Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran.

Abstract

CONTEXT The crucial role of academic leadership in the success of higher education institutions is well documented. Medical education in Iran has been integrated into the health care system through a complex organisational change. This has called into question the current academic leadership, making Iranian medical universities and schools a good case for exploring the challenges of academic leadership. OBJECTIVES This study explores the leadership challenges perceived by academic managers in medical schools and universities in Iran. METHODS A qualitative study using 18 face-to-face, in-depth interviews with academic managers in medical universities and at the Ministry of Health and Medical Education in Iran was performed. All interviews were recorded digitally, transcribed verbatim and analysed by qualitative content analysis. RESULTS The main challenges to academic leadership could be categorised under three themes, each of which included three sub-themes: organisational issues (inefficacy of academic governance; an overly extensive set of missions and responsibilities; concerns about the selection of managers); managerial issues (management styles; mismatch between authority and responsibilities; leadership capabilities), and organisational culture (tendency towards governmental management; a boss-centred culture; low motivation). CONCLUSIONS This study emphasises the need for academic leadership development in Iranian medical schools and universities. The ability of Iranian universities to grow and thrive will depend ultimately upon the application of leadership skills. Thus, it is necessary to better designate authorities, roles of academic staff and leaders at governance.

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