Academy of Strategic Management Journal (Print ISSN: 1544-1458; Online ISSN: 1939-6104)


Roadmap for Realizing the Value Added from Empowering Female Academic Leaders: A Lean Leadership Approach

Author(s): Nouf N. Altamimi, Hala F. Eid, Reem A. Alali, Firyal A. Alhkbani, Ashwag A. Al-Haqbani

This study reflects the growing national and global trend toward empowering women and enhancing their role and participation in national development. It aims to develop a roadmap to add value by empowering female academic leaders (FALs) in Saudi universities. Lean leadership principles are recommended to eliminate hindrances of women’s leadership activities, increase the quantity and quality of their leadership opportunities, and enhance their leadership roles’ effectiveness. This study identifies critical organizational obstacles preventing Saudi universities from realizing the added value by empowering FALs and the requirements for achieving this from the perspective of women and those who work with female leaders. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach and various tools, including 3 exploratory workshops with 65 FALs, a field survey of the entire study sample, and 6 focus group interviews (FGIs) with 35 FALs. The results revealed several obstacles and requirements, from which we derived a roadmap. Some of the roadmap’s most important features include changing the institution’s culture, establishing a culture that encourages female leader empowerment, appointing inspiring-for-change leaders of all genders to senior and middle leadership roles, and establishing a dedicated office for achieving empowerment that reports to the university president. Furthermore, the roadmap emphasizes the importance of “field visits” to work sites to help understand the university’s “current state” vs. the “target states” to create a roadmap to achieve the desired state. For this, consistent implementation and management of the roadmap, supervision, follow-up of progress, and continuous improvement are essential.

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