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Trends And Best Practices In Leadership For Administrators Of Information Technology Programs

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Issues and Directions in ET Education & Administration: Part II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1281.1 - 15.1281.11



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Paper Authors

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Kim Nankivell Purdue University, Calumet

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Jana Whittington Purdue University, Calumet

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Joy Colwell Purdue University, Calumet

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Trends and Best Practices in Leadership for Administrators of Information Technology Programs


The stereotypical Information Technology (IT) professional has a very distinct set of personality traits which are often characterized as presenting leadership challenges for managers. Research suggests that to lead IT professionals, a unique set of characteristics must be developed by leaders. Research also observes that academic faculty in IT, may share the same challenging personality traits as IT professionals. In this paper, the authors will examine the literature to identify the relevant personality traits, compare the personality traits associated with academic faculty with those of IT professionals to demonstrate and explore the similar stereotypes, and explore how the leaders of this group attempt to lead them. This literature review will also investigate the skill sets and qualifications of the leaders of this group. Finally, this paper will review the observed trends in academic leadership and suggest recommendations for their application in IT programs and departments


An accurate definition of the leadership skill sets which are required to manage and lead information technology (IT) professionals is critical for organizational success. These leadership skill sets have evolved as the requirements and responsibilities of IT professionals have expanded. Similar skill sets are required to lead academic faculty, suggesting that the same issues and problems which confront the IT leader also confront the academic leader. The research into leadership skills and requirements for academia can arguably be considered limited, as suggested by this statement: “we need more studies that examine the interaction of individuals in the leadership process. New research needs to focus on campus teams and groups involved in shared leadership”. 7 Leadership research in academia also needs to focus on the ethical aspects and how it affects learning. This includes the relationship between leadership and learning.

There appear to be comparable characteristics of IT professionals and academic faculty. The IT professional has been described as high maintenance, and thus unique to lead. The older IT professionals are considered stagnant with little desire for new knowledge. They are also perceived as not desiring positions of management. 5 Similarly, academic faculty have been described as “the last group of workers in the world who actually own the means of projection in their job and have life-time job security”. 9 These practices are now being questioned as corporate management styles are being adopted by more and more financially stressed academic institutions. 9

Leaders in academia must understand the academic role, which is becoming more ambiguous. The traditional role is not just to disseminate knowledge but also create it. This creation is through a research process designed not only for research methodology, but also to answer questions.11 IT professionals’ roles are expanding as technical skills are no longer adequate for job performance and roles are being re-evaluated. Barry Boehm (2006) observes “COTS [commercial-off-the-shelf] components are also requiring reprioritizing the skills needed by

Nankivell, K., & Whittington, J., & Colwell, J. (2010, June), Trends And Best Practices In Leadership For Administrators Of Information Technology Programs Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16028

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