Perceptions of Shared Leadership within Academic Libraries Suggest Room for Improvement

Genevieve C. Gore

Abstract


Objective – To survey middle managers’ beliefs regarding their participation in shared leadership and their libraries’ practices of shared leadership.

Design – Cross-sectional survey.

Setting – Twenty-two academic libraries within four-year public master’s level institutions in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Subjects – A total of 115 middle managers were invited to participate; 77 completed the survey for a response rate of 66.9%.
Methods – Selected middle managers were contacted by email a total of five times and were invited to complete a Web-based survey composed of three sections. The first section contained 10 statements for rating shared leadership within their own institutions, which they were asked to rate on an eight-point Likert scale from 1 (strongly agree) to 7 (strongly disagree), with 8 as an option for no opinion. The second section used the same scale to rate their levels of agreement with conceptual definitions of shared leadership from Jackson’s Framework. Jackson’s Framework consists of four components for ascertaining levels of shared leadership from both managerial and staff perspectives: accountability, equity, partnership and
ownership. The third section invited subjects to provide their own definition of shared leadership. A three-part pretest served to validate the survey instrument. Mean scores were calculated for each statement.

Main Results – In the first section, there was the highest overall level of agreement (1.52) with the statement “I am accountable for the decisions within the scope of my responsibility” followed by “I share information with the senior library administration” (1.71). There was the lowest overall level of agreement (3.65) with the statement that “Ideas presented at all levels of staff in the library are equally considered.” In the second section, respondents’ mean scores for Jackson’s definitions of four concepts of shared leadership were 2.62 for ownership, 2.68 for both partnership and equity, and 2.77 for accountability. In the third section, respondents most often linked their definitions of shared leadership with communication, learning and collaboration.

Conclusion – Examining middle managers’ perceptions of shared leadership may help us understand organizational trends and capacity for leadership within libraries. Future research could examine shared leadership at levels below middle management as well as the relationship between accountability and shared leadership throughout the organization.

Keywords


academic library management; shared leadership

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