‘Like king, like subject’? Insights into the politics of participation and imaginaries of leadership in India and South Africa

Dina Zoe Belluigi*, Nandita Dhawan, Grace Idahosa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter contributes to scholarship concerned with the meso-curriculum shaping academic citizenry, and the conditions created for leadership, participation and inclusion within higher education institutions. Cognisant of the importance of the sector to drive the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it considers the fitness-for-purpose of higher education institutions when it comes to peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16), gender inequalities (SDG 5) and how these intersect with notions of quality education (SDG 4).
Primary data from the standpoint of key stakeholders within six institutions from the post-colonial contexts of India and South Africa was generated. These two middle-income contexts are of interest, because they are characterised by strong constitutional commitments to democracy and social justice at the macro-level, with bold policy interventions undertaken at institutional meso-level to address the legacies of exclusion and oppression in their student and staff composition and experiences in higher education. However, the last five years have seen fraught dynamics and unrest within the sector in each country, which data from our study indicates relates partially to the politics of participation, institutional culture and a breakdown of trust in governance and management.
Academic staff and those in leadership position are important agents, because of their roles and responsibilities in shaping the trans/formation of higher education and its purposes. Drawing from the quantitative and qualitative data generated for this study, the chapter explores the patterns which emerged, paying particular attention to gender and intersectional inequalities, and what they revealed about the persistence of policy-implementation gaps and also interactional dynamics which point to principle-implementation gaps. Concerns are raised about the limitations of an imaginary, when it came to the agency of leaders to effect change in the Indian context, and impoverished comprehensions around sustainable ethical leadership which emerged across the study.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRole of Leaders in Managing Higher Education
EditorsEnakshi Sengupta, Patrick Blessinger
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Publication statusSubmitted - 28 Dec 2020


  • higher education
  • India
  • leadership
  • management
  • gender
  • equality
  • intersectionality
  • Minority


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