Challenges of Leading Expatriate Academics

David Michael St.Germain


To attract a greater number of students both at home and abroad, many higher education institutions have made internationalization a priority. The trend towards internationalization by opening branch campuses, cross-border collaborative arrangements, twinning, franchising, and joint or double degree arrangements has led to an increase in the mobility of academic labour. Often, higher education leaders are promoted through the ranks of academia and are underprepared for leading a diverse workforce that includes expatriate academics. Expatriate academics face many challenges as they attempt to adjust to a new role and living in a foreign country. Thus, they usually require more support than local staff. Leadership style has been shown to have a large impact on an employee’s job satisfaction and performance. Given the importance placed on internationalization at higher education institutions, it is important for universities to develop leaders with the ability to flexibly incorporate a range of leadership styles to effectively meet the challenges of their increasingly complex role. In this context, I proposed the consideration of servant leadership as a potential leadership style that may be well suited to help higher education leaders meet the needs of their expatriate academic staff.



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