Institutional challenges and leadership competencies in Chinese Ministry of Education directed universities in implementing the 1999 Chinese action scheme for invigorating education towards the 21st century
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This study used the naturalistic inquiry method to explore the perceptions of the selected administrators from Chinese Ministry of Education Directed universities regarding what kind of institutional challenges their institutions confront and how their institutions function in the present, how their own roles have been affected by the changing situations they face in their own contexts, and consequently, what are the competencies that universities leaders will need in their universities in the near future. Special emphases are placed on the differences that exist in the challenges facing Chinese MOE directed universities located in differently geographical, cultural and economical contexts, and the differences among the perceptions of current university leaders, aspiring leaders, and retired university leaders regarding institutional challenges and leadership competencies. In this study, eight kinds of challenges have been identified by selected Chinese university administrators. There are no substantial differences in perceptions of these eight kinds of challenges, for all these MOE-directed universities live in a similar policy environment; they are governed, funded and evaluated by the Ministry of Education. However, due to their personal background such as different ages, historical background and working experiences, they showed some differences in their perceptions more individually than as a group. According to the respondents?? reflections, the location of a university powerfully influences the university, positively or negatively. Being located in developed areas usually has a positive influence on a university. On the contrary, being located in undeveloped areas has a negative impact on a university. There are four categories of leadership competencies identified by the respondents: personality and disposition, personal knowledge and skill, administrative competency, and social responsibility competency. It is not surprising that administrators from these universities did not show substantial differences in their perceptions of leadership competency because members of all the groups live in a similar policy environment. However, due to their personal background, they actually showed some differences in their perceptions as individuals rather than as a group. The researcher found that university administrator training is absolutely necessary. However, the current training programs do not meet the demands, more needs to be done to improve the training programs through renewing training content and methods.