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Higher Education Leadership in a Time of Digital Technologies: A South African Case Study

Vuyisile Msila

Abstract—Since the advent of digital technologies two phrases have been used extensively in higher education institutions and these are digital transformation and digital leadership. This article’s topic is crucial because some leaders and their staff do not know how to deal with change in systems accompanying the introduction of digital technologies. Institutions of higher learning are experiencing waves of change that bring turmoil, whilst leaders enhance their skills as they sail with their institutions towards a future of digital technologies. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand effective strategies for effective digital transformation in selected universities as perceived by the participants. It examined ways in which conscientious leaders could build high performing (South) African institutions where technology will address some of the societal ills such as poverty and underdevelopment. Ten university executives were interviewed individually and in focus groups. The results demonstrate that, without a vision and collective decision making, few institutions will thrive in the current times of information communication technologies (ICTs). Furthermore, the study showed that varied skills in technologies as well as emotional intelligence will help digital leaders support their teams whilst enhancing their institutions’ performance. Effective digital leaders depend on a strong vision and creating an atmosphere of sharing and support.

Index Terms—Change management, digital leadership, isomorphism, technologies, visionary leaders.

The author is with Thabo Mbeki African School of Public and International Affairs, University of South Africa, South Africa (e-mail: msivuy@gmail.com).

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Copyright © 2022 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

General Information

  • ISSN: 2010-3689 (Online)
  • Abbreviated Title: Int. J. Inf. Educ. Technol.
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • DOI: 10.18178/IJIET
  • Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Dr. Steve Thatcher
  • Executive Editor: Ms. Nancy Y. Liu
  • Abstracting/ Indexing: Scopus (CiteScore 2021: 1.3), INSPEC (IET), UGC-CARE List (India), CNKI, EBSCO, Electronic Journals Library, Google Scholar, Crossref, etc.
  • E-mail: ijiet@ejournal.net

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