Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities honors Mainz University concept for leadership culture development

PARTICIPATION and EXPERTISE guidelines form the basis for a common understanding of leadership, staff development measures, and sustainable anchoring of the new leadership culture in all areas of Mainz University

01.12.2011

The Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany [Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft] and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation have now made Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Frankfurt University, and the Universities of Applied Sciences in Munich and Rosenheim part of the Shaping Change program, which promotes universities' capacity to exercise autonomy while encouraging personal initiative and responsibility among lecturers, students, and employees with regard to developing their university and investing in cultural change. Particular emphasis was placed on concepts that involve university members in the processes of institutional change. Nearly 50 universities participated in this competition. The JGU project Shaping Change – Developing a Culture of Leadership at JGU was successful in the final round. "Under the slogan Leadership Culture, JGU has developed and implemented a new leadership culture," states the Donor's Association in its eulogy. "Mainz University has achieved this by means of a broadly inclusive participatory process. Such a leadership culture is to take into account the specific initial position of a university's consensus-oriented and participatory structures. The Participation and Expertise guidelines provide the basis for a common understanding of leadership, for staff development measures, and for sustainable anchoring of the new leadership culture in all areas of the university."

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz will receive EUR 400,000 in 2011 and 2012 to help it implement its concept. "We promote palpable autonomy. The universities selected have convincing concepts that enable all university members to participate in the processes of change at the university and together bring about the necessary cultural changes," says Prof. Dr. Andreas Schlüter, General Secretary of the Donors' Association. The selection of universities took place already in December 2010; the universities, including JGU, have already begun with implementation.



Two cornerstones: Participation and Expertise

As a teaching organization, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has been engaged in the design of processes for implementing internal change for the past ten years. As a result, it has already won several awards, e.g. the recognition as "best practice university 2002" by the Center for Higher Education (CHE). "The processes of change at JGU are based on two cornerstones: the participation of all university members and the expertise of a modern panel of experts. This requires a leadership culture that aims in particular at persuading people to assume responsibility for a leadership role on the one hand and at building consensus through successful mediation on the other. We see the introduction of a leadership culture at JGU to be essential to our aims," says Professor Dr. Mechthild Dreyer, Vice President for Learning and Teaching at JGU, "as the structural changes at JGU can only provide us with the sustained capacity to act and to develop our institution when the university's members have integrated and internalized the participation and expertise guidelines when it comes to their very own thoughts and actions."

The Shaping Change – Developing a Culture of Leadership at JGU project, which is being implemented over two years, is established in the human resources development sector at JGU. The project aims at developing a concept of leadership specific to JGU, integrating this into leadership development programs already in place at JGU, and subsequently implementing the JGU leadership concept in other fields of human resources development. The components developed for this purpose will be subject to regular process evaluation and, on the completion of the project, the results will be assessed with the aim of further developing the concept and continuing sustainable implementation beyond the end of the project.

The Chancellor of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Götz Scholz, sees the Shaping Change – Developing a Culture of Leadership at JGU project as supplementing the systemic process of modernization and profile-building by the university. "The development of a leadership culture at JGU, based on the cornerstones of expertise and participation, represents another important step towards increasing our university’s capacity to act autonomously. Leadership personnel need to be enabled and qualified to respond in a flexible manner to the intrinsic dynamics of the system and to create and stimulate advantageous dynamics. When the leadership concept is transferred to other fields of human resources development, it will have the opportunity to establish itself as a fundamental culture-shaping program at JGU."