Portraits of Academic Leadership in Brunei Tertiary Institutions: A Special Reference to Melayu Islam Beraja Philosophy

  • Razali Mat Zin
  • Nur Anissa Sarbini
  • Norashikin Yusof
  • Qaisar Ali


The tertiary education institutions (TEIs) are organized anarchies founded on traditional and cultural sentiments to offer quality education as well underpin a country’s national philosophy. However, over the last two decades, TEIs have experienced significant changes which require essential reformation and overhauling. This has enhanced the role of academic leaders (vice-chancellors) and their leadership to guide these universities to achieve a country’s educational goals and enable achieving long-term economic, social, and financial goals. This study aims to analyze the role of leadership in leading 21st century TEIs and explore whether national philosophies such as Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB) affect their academic leadership and hamper their progress to become outstanding leaders. The data was collected from vice-chancellors (VCs) of the universities in Brunei Darussalam to determine the portraits of leadership and explore the influence of MIB philosophy. The findings revealed that VCs skills and competencies have 76% relevance to academic leadership which is dominated and influenced by MIB. The findings have also confirmed the difference in leadership styles among VCs due to different factors such as strategic policies, cultural influence, and personal skills and competencies. This study contributes to the literature on academic leadership by understanding the influence of country-specific national philosophy (MIB) in guiding modern-day TEIs.


Aboramadan, M., Dahleez, K.A., & Farao, C. (2021). Inclusive leadership and extra-role behaviors in higher education: does organizational learning mediate the relationship? International Journal of Educational Management, https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-06-2020-0290
Abbott, W.F, & Monsen, R.J. (1979). On the Measurement of Corporate Social Responsibility: Self-Reported Disclosures as a Method of Measuring Corporate Social Involvement. Academy of Management Journal, 2(3), 501-515.
Agresti A. (1990). Categorical Data Analysis. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Aishath W. (2019). Academic Leaders’ Leadership Styles in Institute of Brunei Technical Education. Asian Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 1(1),1-10.
Albulushi, A., & Hussain, S. (2008). Transformational leadership takes Majan to the top of the class: college wins string of prizes for good business practice. Human Resource Management International Digest, 16(2), 31-33.
Alonderiene, R., & Majauskaite, M. (2016). Leadership style and job satisfaction in higher education institutions. International Journal of Educational Management, 30(1), 140-164.
Al-Sufri, M.J. (2010). Royal Poet Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien. Brunei History Centre.
Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2012). Critical leadership studies. Human Relations, 65(3), 367-390.
Amaral, A., Jones, G.A., & Karseth, B. (2002). Governing Higher Education: National Perspectives on Institutional Governance, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
American Association of Community Colleges, AACC. (2005). Pocket profile of community college leaders. Washington, D.C: American Association of Community Colleges.
Argyris, C., & Schon, A.D. (1996). Organizational Learning II: Theory, Method, and Practice. Addison-Wesley, Boston, MA.
Arnold, J., Silvester, J., Patterson, F., Robertson, I., Cooper, C. & Burnes, B. (2005). Work Psychology: Understanding Human Behaviour in the Workplace. Fourth Edition, Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.
Askling, B., & Stensaker, B. (2002). Academic leadership: prescriptions, practices and paradoxes. Tertiary Education and Management, 8(2), 113-125.
Avolio, B.J., Bass, B.M., & Jung, D.I. (1999). Re-examination the components of transformational and transactional leadership questionnaire. Journal of Occupational and Organization Psychology, 72(4), 441-462.
Baldridge, V.J. (1971). Power and Conflict in the University. Wiley, New York, NY.
Basham, L.M. (2010). Transformational and transactional leaders in higher education. International Review of Business Research Papers, 6(6), 141-152.
Bass, B.M., & Avolio, B.J. (1994). Improving Organizational Effectiveness through Transformational Leadership. Sage Publication Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA.
Becher, T., & Trowler, P.R. (2001). Academic Tribes and Territories. Second edition. Open University Press, Buckingham.
Bellibas, M. S, Ozaslan, G, Gumus, E, & Gumus, S. (2016). Examining department chairs' needs in performing academic leadership in turkish universities. Education and Science, 41(184), 91– 103.
Bengtsson, M. (2016). How to plan and perform a qualitative study using content analysis. NursingPlus Open, 2, 8-14.
Birnbaum, R. (1992). How Academic Leadership Works: Understanding Success and Failure in the College. Precidency, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
Booner, B. (2013). Leading the Charge: A Multiple Case Study of Presidential Perceptions of Essential Leadership Characteristics for the 21st Century. Community College. University of Nebraska Library.
Breznitz, S., & Feldman, M. (2012). The larger role of the university in economic development: introduction to the special issue. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 37(2), 135-138.
Bryman, A. (2007). Effective Leadership in Higher Education. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, London.
Bumpas, R. K. (1998). Factors that affect the selection of community college presidents. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX.
Cameron, K.S. (1981). Domains of organizational effectiveness in colleges and universities. Academy of Management Journal, 24(1), 25-47.
Cheung, M.F.Y., & Wong, C.S. (2011). Transformational leadership, leader support, and employee creativity. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 32(7), 656-672.
Christensen, T., & Lægreid, P. (Eds) (2002). New Public Management, Ashgate, Aldershot.
Davenport, T.H., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working Knowledge. Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, MA.
Edmondson, A.C. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350-383.
Effendi, A. (2022). Melayu Islam Beraja: Ideologi Negara Brunei Darussalam. Tafhim Al-’Ilmi, 13(2), 195–213.
Esen, M., Bellibas, M. S. & Gumus, S. (2018). The Evolution of Leadership Research in Higher Education for Two Decades (1995-2014): A Bibliometric and Content Analysis. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1–15.
Farrukh, M., Lee, J.W.C., & Shahzad, I.A. (2019). Intrapreneurial behavior in higher education institutes of Pakistan: The role of leadership styles and psychological empowerment. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 11(2), 273-294.
Fujita, E.M. (1990). What is a good college president? How leaders are judged by constituents. Columbia College.
Garwe, E.C., & Thondhlana, J. (2022). Making internationalization of higher education a national strategic focus. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 14(1), 521-538.
Gibbs, G., Knapper, C., & Piccinin, S. (2009). Departmental Leadership of Teaching in Research-Intensive Environments. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, London.
Gioia, D.A., & Chittipeddi, K. (1991). Sensemaking and sensegiving in strategic change initiation. Strategic Management Journal, 12(6), 433-448.
Gioia, D.A., Thomas, J.B., Clark, S.M., & Chippipeddi, K. (1994). Symbolism and strategic change in academia: the dynamics of sensemaking and influence. Organization Science, 5(3), 363-383.
Gmelch, W. H. & Burns, J. S. (1993). The cost of academic leadership: Department chair stress. Innovative Higher Education, 17(4), 259–270.
Gramsci, A. (2009). Hegemony, intellectuals and the state. Cultural theory and popular culture. REAd (Porto Alegre), 2, 210–216.
Gumus, S, Bellibas, M.S, Esen, M, & Gumus, E. (2018). A systematic review of studies on leadership models in educational research from 1980 to 2014. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 46(1), 25–48.
Howell, J.P. & Costley, D.L. (2006). Understanding Behaviours for Effective Leadership. Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc
Keller, G. (2001). Governance. the remarkable ambiguity. In, Altbach, P.G., Gumport, P.J., & Johnstone, D.B. (Eds), In Defense of American Higher Education, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp. 304-323.
Khalifa, B., & Ayoubi, R. M. (2015). Leadership styles at Syrian higher education. International Journal of Educational Management, 29(4), 477–491.
Khan, I. U., Idris, M., & Amin, R. U. (2021). Leadership style and performance in higher education: the role of organizational justice. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1–15.
Krippendorff, K. (2012). Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology. 4th Edition, SAGE Publications.
Kyvik, S. (2009). The Dynamics of Change in Higher Education: Expansion and Contraction in an Organisational Field, Springer, Dordrecht.
Leithwood, K. (1992). The move toward transformational leadership. Educational Leadership, 49(5), 8-12.
Levy, D., & Scully, M. (2007). The institutional entrepreneur as modern prince: The strategic face of power in contested fields. Organization Studies, 28(7), 971–991.
Lipshitz, R., Popper, M., & Friedman, V.J. (2002). A multi-facet model of organizational learning. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 38(1), 78-98.
Maassen, P. (2009). The modernisation of european higher education. In, Amaral, A., Bleiklie, I., & Musselin, C. (Eds) From Governance to Identity, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 95-112.
Martínez-García, I., Padilla-Carmona, M. T., & Alastor, E. (2019). Understanding governance at university: from management to leadership. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 11(3), 466–480.
Mews, J.G. (2019). Effective Leadership in Higher Education: A Review of Leadership Style Preferences among Faculty and Staff within the United States. Open Journal of Leadership, 8, 58-74. https://doi.org/10.4236/ojl.2019.8200
Middlehurst, R. (1993). Leading Academics. SHRE and Open University Press, Bristol.
Middlehurst, R. (1999). New realities for leadership and governance in higher education? Tertiary Education and Management, 5(4), 307-329.
Mintzberg, H. (2009). Managing. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francicso, CA.
Møthe, S., Ballangrud, B.O.B., & Stensaker, B. (2015). The values and visions of the professional department head: not so different from the past? International Journal of Educational Management, 29(3), 298–308.
Mukiur, R.M., Revilla, M.R.G., Hijosa, A.M., & Moure, O.M. (2017). Effective leadership styles in higher education: Exploratory study. In, 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, Seville, Spain.
Musselin, C. (2006). Are universities specific organizations? In, Krücken, G., Kosmützky, A., & Torka, M. (Eds), Towards A Multiversity Universities Between Global Trends and National Traditions, Transcript, Bielefeld, pp. 63-84.
Nahavandi, A. (2006). The Art and Science of Leadership. Fourth Edition, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
Omar, A.M. (2021). The Whole-of-Nation Approach: The Case of Brunei Darussalam, Wawasan 2035, and the 4th Industrial Revolution. In, Handbook of Research on Global Challenges for Improving Public Services and Government Operations, Chapter: 15, IGI Global, https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-4978-0.ch015.
Osborne, M (2020). What does it take to be a successful community college president? EdNC. Retrieved from: https://www.ednc.org/what-does-it-take-to-be-a-successful-community-college-president/ [accessed on 05 January 2022].
Pardey, D. (2007). Introducing Leadership. First Edition, Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.
Petrov, G. (2006). The Leadership Foundation research on collective leadership in higher education. Leadership Matters, 7(11), 11.
Popper, M., & Lipshitz, R. (2000). Installing mechanisms and instilling values: the role of leaders in organizational learning. The Learning Organization, 7(3), 135-145.
Pounder, J.S. (1999). Organizational effectiveness in higher education: managerial implications of a Hong Kong study. Educational Management & Administration, 27(4), 389-400.
Ramirez, F.O. (2006). The rationalization of universities. In, Djelic, M.-L., & Sahlin-Andersson, K. (Eds), Transnational Governance: Institutional Dynamics of Regulation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 225-244.
Ramsden, P. (1998), Learning to Lead in Higher Education. Routledge, New York, NY.
Schein, E.H. (1993). How can organizations learn faster? The challenge of entering the greenroom. Sloan Management Review, 34(2), 85-92.
Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Century Business, London.
Silins, H., Zarins, S., & Mulford, B. (2002). What characteristics and processes define a school as a learning organization? Is this a useful concept to apply to schools? International Education Journal, 3(1), 24-332.
Skinner, R.A. (2010). Turnover: Selecting the next generation of presidents. Change Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.changemag.org [accessed on 10 January 2022].
Skinner, R. A. & Miller, E. R. (2011). Pathways to the presidency: The new community college leader. Inside Higher Education. Retrieved from: http://www.insidehighered.com [accessed on 12 January 2022].
Smart, J.C., Kuh, G.D., & Tierney, W.G. (1997). The role of institutional cultures and decision approaches in promoting organizational effectiveness in two-year colleges. The Journal of Higher Education, 68(3), 256-281.
Smith, L.B. (2009). Personal Qualities. Retrieved from http://a4esl.org/q/h/employ/persqual.htm [accessed on 13 January 2022].
Spendlove, M. (2007). Competencies for effective leadership in higher education. International Journal of Educational Management, 21(5), 407–417.
Stripling, J. (2012). A lonesome minefield: College presidents discuss the demands of the job. Chronicle of Higher Education.
Sun, P.Y.T., & Anderson, M.H. (2011). The combined influence of top and middle management leadership styles on absorptive capacity. Management Learning, 43(1), 25-51.
Tolliver, D., & Murray, J. (2017). Management Skills for the Contemporary College President: A Critical Review. Journal of Research and College President, 4(1), 9-18.
Tapper, T., & Palfreyman, D. (2011). Oxford, the Collegiate University: Conflict, Consensus and Continuity. Springer, Dodrecht.
Toma, J.D. (2010). Building Organizational Capacity: Strategic Management in Higher Education. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
Weber, R.P. (1988). Basic Content Analysis. Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications. In, Social Sciences, Series, No. 07–49. Sage, Beverly Hills, CA London.
Wildavsky, A. (1992). On being a department chair. Political Science and Politics, 25(1), 83-89.
Wood, M.S., & Fields, D. (2007). Exploring the impact of shared leadership on management team member job outcomes. Baltic Journal of Management, 2(3), 251-272.
How to Cite
MAT ZIN, Razali et al. Portraits of Academic Leadership in Brunei Tertiary Institutions: A Special Reference to Melayu Islam Beraja Philosophy. International Journal of Advanced Research in Education and Society, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 2, p. 111-131, aug. 2022. ISSN 2682-8138. Available at: <https://myjms.mohe.gov.my/index.php/ijares/article/view/18975>. Date accessed: 02 dec. 2023.