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Facilitating Institutional Transformation in Namibian Public Higher Education Institutions through Transformational Leadership

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International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration

Volume 10, Issue 4, May 2024, Pages 7-18

Facilitating Institutional Transformation in Namibian Public Higher Education Institutions through Transformational Leadership

DOI: 10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.104.1001
URL: https://doi.org/10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.104.1001 

1 Davy Julian Du Plessis, 2 Jacqueline Teresa Charmaine Bock, 3 Charles Antonio Keyter


1 (Department of Governance and Management Sciences, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek, Namibia)

2 Department of Academic Support, Teaching, Learning and Technology,

Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek, Namibia

3 Department of Public Management and Political Studies

The University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia

Abstract: Conventional leadership models are insufficient to address modern concerns regarding the institutional transformation of Namibia’s public institutions of higher education. Africa, especially Namibia, aims to utilize the transformational potential of education but encounters obstacles due to a lack of leadership and resources. The main objective of this article is to explore the challenges of institutional transformation at public institutions of higher education and the appropriateness of transformational leadership to drive successful and sustainable institutional transformation within Namibian public higher education institutions. The study employed a mixed-method approach, incorporating descriptive design and theme analysis. The data for the article was gathered via online surveys and semi-structured interviews with management from Namibian public universities. ATLAS.ti aided the thematic analysis, while descriptive statistics was employed for quantitative data analysis with Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Ethical issues were rigorously adhered to during the study procedure. Essential leadership traits include respect, honesty, stakeholder involvement, and flexibility.

Moreover, a lack of vision, inefficient communication, and an inability to acknowledge team efforts impede institutional transformation. These observations highlight the significance of leadership in enabling effective transformation. The study highlights the crucial importance of transformational leadership because this leadership model features all the qualities needed by a leader to drive a successful institutional transformation in Namibian higher education. The results are consistent with previous research, highlighting the significance of transformational leadership attributes in promoting effective institutional transformation.


Keywords: Transformational leadership in Namibia Public Universities, transformation in public higher education in Namibia, higher education in Namibia


All organizations, whether profitable or non-profitable, service or product-oriented, private or public, must transform to stay competitive to survive. Ignorance to transform to meet the changing demands of the competitive environment will force organizations out of the market. When an organization’s change rate lags behind the outside, it approaches its end (Viaene, 2018). Viaene’s perspective from 2018 equally pertains to transformation. According to Pallinkas (2022), the nexus between change and transformation points out that change can be gradual or significant but requires continuous monitoring and upkeep. Change usually occurs as a brief reaction to new external influences or developing beliefs. Transformation, in contrast, is typically substantial and meaningful. Transformation is the deep-seated change in one’s views about the reasons for their behavior. Transformation may not necessitate external influence for sustainability, but it does necessitate fundamental changes from within.

Moreover, related factors that may impact organizational transformation, as proposed by Domingues et al. (2023), include the role of funding bodies, local policies and networks, organizational culture and leadership, lack of resources, and building proprietary-tenant relationships. Higher learning institutions, as the factories of knowledge, should set the example for transformation to lead their society. These factories of knowledge should continuously embark on transformation to remain relevant and competitive (Brazill and Ruff, 2022).

A significant source of hope for the continent of Africa is its young, who make up 70% of the population. Giving young people the opportunity to pursue higher education may stimulate economic advancement, foster social unity, and establish lasting peace. Education is essential for changing both individuals and society. Higher education institutions are crucial in revising curricula to advance sustainable development and equip individuals with comprehensive values for effective social engagement (Osuji and Oluoch-Suleh, 2015). The African continent’s low higher education enrolment rate of around 9% hinders entirely using its potential, far below the worldwide average of 42%. African universities are overcrowded and unable to provide a conducive learning environment, particularly for higher technical education, despite the increasing demand for higher education. Higher education in the region faces a financing shortage at the national level, especially in research and development, with just 0.38% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to it, in contrast to 2.25% in Europe and North America (UNESCO, 2023).Before 1980, the inhabitants of Namibia, then South West Africa, could only pursue higher education in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) or elsewhere. The Academy for Tertiary Education was established under the Academy for Tertiary Education Act 13, 1980. Following Namibia’s independence from the RSA in March 1990, the Turner Report, issued by the Presidential Commission on Higher Education, suggested reorganizing the three institutions formed under the Academy for Tertiary Education. The objective was to create two higher education institutions: UNAM and the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) (Keyter, 2002). The University of Namibia (UNAM) became an autonomous public institution of higher education in August 1992 by enacting the University of Namibia Act 18 of 1992. The Technicon and COST were integrated into the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) as per the Polytechnic of Namibia Act No. 13 of 1994. In 1992, the previous campus of the Academy of Tertiary Education became the Main campus of PoN (Namibia University of Science and Technology, 2017). This action accelerated and effectively finalized the separation of the two higher education institutions in December 1995. PoN achieved its status as an independent and autonomous organization in January 1996.

In late 2012, the Namibian Government issued many orders to overhaul public higher education in Namibia. The aim was to support Namibia’s objective of human resource development and preserve Vision 2030 for Namibia, as stated by the Office of the President in 2004. The guidelines highlighted the necessity of converting PoN into a scientific and technology university that provides career-focused and broad academic programs. In early 2015, the Minister of Education advocated converting PoN into NUST following a nationwide consultation (Namwandi, 2015). Namibia is one of the top three countries worldwide in terms of the proportion of their national budget dedicated to education, according to Katjavivi (2017).

The main objective of this article is to explore the challenges of institutional transformation at public institutions of higher education and the appropriateness of transformational leadership to drive successful and sustainable institutional transformation within Namibian public higher education.

2.Literature review

2.1 Institutional Transformation

All economic role players face many challenges and threats because of globalization (Hore, 2023; Woldegiorgis, 2023). These challenges and threats force all organizations to make significant improvements and changes to the status quo of doing business to stay relevant regarding technological changes and to accommodate integrated international economies characterized by globalization, which poses a fundamental question related to institutional transformation,  linking to the aims and wishes of the current generations in the labor market and external stakeholders (Baldock, 2014). Therefore, the authors support the argument that higher education institutions must change to meet changing social requirements and to stay relevant in a fast-changing global context (Coccoli et al. (2014). Global demand for higher education is rising, especially in emerging nations, which is one of the leading forces for change (Sheyapo et al., 2023). Higher education institutions offer skilled individuals in various fields to satisfy industry demands as nations fight for financial leadership. Therefore, budgetary constraints hampered the fulfilment of this responsibility (Tewe et al., 2024).

Institutional transformation denotes a substantial transition leading to a complete overhaul of the structure, functioning, and culture. A culture shift affects fundamental assumptions, structures, procedures, rules, customs, attitudes, and values. Cole and Kelly (2015) state that institutional transformation involves changes in an organization’s purpose, strategy, goals, structure, procedures, technology, systems, and people. Griffin (2014) further delineates institutional transformation as a significant modification in specific segments, sections, divisions, or the entirety of the organization, surpassing mere reorganization. Unlike incremental adjustments or isolated problem-solving, transformation entails a broader scope of change. Moreover, de Bara (2021) states that transformation involves moving the entire organization and integrating the transformation process into all aspects of an organization’s practices.

2.2 Flaws during an institutional transformation process

Leaders often fail to motivate managers and staff enough for a suggested institutional transformation process (Kotter, 2014). Any alteration to the existing state can lead to discomfort, emotional strain, and apprehension of the unfamiliar. During the planning phase of a proposed institutional transformation, it is important to notify all pertinent parties through collaborative meetings and clear communication. Often, senior management makes decisions independently, especially regarding significant institutional transformation, and only communicates these decisions to the rest of the management and personnel later. Managers and staff may lack the urgency and fail to see the need for institutional transformation. However, Schneidt (2022) postulates that during a crisis, the element of urgency strengthens the belief in promptly addressing the issues. One can agree with Schneidt (2022) that a crisis in higher education may speed up transformation, for example, the contingency plans that many organizations rolled out during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kotter (2014) asserts that without a guiding vision, the process of institutional reform is likely to fail. The vision for institutional transformation is to provide clear direction, guidance, and a comprehensive knowledge of its significance and necessity. Without a clear vision, expenses and time might escalate, even derailing institutional development. Effective and ongoing communication is often not in place before instituting an institutional reform process. If stakeholders are not effectively and continuously communicated with before an institutional transition, they will not believe the transformation is feasible and advantageous for all parties involved (Kotter, 2014). Furthermore, Tanner (2023) postulates that a clear vision and mission can contribute to guiding an organization to formulate realistic targets and to evaluate the outcomes of set targets.

The most troubling hindrances are the mental barriers of the stakeholders. The aim is to establish stakeholders’ confidence by demonstrating that existing hurdles can be surmounted. According to Kotter (2014), impediments may involve concerns about job security, organizational structure, performance rating system, and managerial attitude. A single barrier has the potential to impede the entire institutional reform process. William (2008) agrees that employees oppose institutional change due to misinterpretation and lack of confidence. Employees often lack faith in management, whom they perceive as the driving force behind institutional change.

The duration of institutional change varies based on the scale of the transformational process. Short-term goals for institutional transformation frequently distort the process of transformation, as noted by Kotter (2014). This deficiency causes employees to abandon their efforts or actively align with opposition groups or individuals opposing institutional transformation. Immediate achievements will reassure stakeholders that the institution is progressing in alignment with the envisioned institutional reform. Short-term achievements might help sway stakeholders who are hesitant about institutional changes by showcasing the transformation’s first advantages for internal and external parties (Aitken et al. 2014).

At the beginning of the institutional change process, leaders confirmed the success of the transformation. After implementing the institutional transformation process, the organization briefly asserts or thinks that the process was successful and has the attitude and belief that the institution has achieved the vision of institutional transformation, according to Kotter (2014). Any subsequent recommendations and actions may be disregarded, hindering the institutional transformation’s efficacy and durability. An institutional transformation can span from three to 10 years, contingent on the scale of the process (Kotter, 2014). On the other hand, some people react to change indecisively, mainly when the future is uncertain. Reactions are a strategy used to deal with and engage with change because this causes anxiety and disruption for individuals and organizations (Blom, 2018).

Leadership often fails to effectively integrate the goal of institutional transformation into the organization’s culture. An institutional transformation process is considered adequate for organizational stakeholders to embrace entirely and adhere to the new vision and values established throughout the transition, as outlined by Kotter (2014). Many organizational cultures influence an institutional transition’s effectiveness. Managers are enthusiastic about initiating institutional transformation but often neglect thorough preparation and clear communication with stakeholders. Managers neglect crucial concerns that might fail in the institutional transformation process. Undertaking an institutional transformation process can be costly for financial and non-financial resources, which varies according to the scale of the transition (Kotter, 2014). Organizations should guarantee that resources are not regular on a failed institutional transformation process. Griffin (2014) asserts that leaders and managers regularly fail to recognize the significant influence of stakeholder opposition throughout an institutional reform. It is essential to mention that while these errors are not unavoidable, their repercussions can be prevented or reduced.

Organizations today and higher education institutions must transform to meet the changing needs of their employees (Kotter, 2014), customers and various internal and external stakeholders. If these organizations are impervious to institutional transformation, they will lose innovative employees and even risk closing by force (Baldock, 2014).

2.3 Leadership versus Institutional Transformation

White et al. (2023) propose that leaders should first introspect and assess their connection to the transformational process throughout an institutional transformation. Establishing a cohesive vision of future success is crucial to any transition. A culture of trust and psychological safety, which involves trust and care from leaders Ramachandran (2020), can help make a challenging shift more emotionally tolerable. We all understand the fundamental human experience of being acknowledged, attended to, and understood by someone else. It may recognize our efforts, stimulate us to strive more, and alleviate feelings of doubt, fear, wrath, and grief. Fourthly, that harmonizes execution with exploration. Fifthly, a collective sense of responsibility over the product. Leaders and workers collaborated to establish an atmosphere where all individuals experienced a collective sense of ownership over the goal and results of the change.

Recognition that technology has its emotional trajectory. White et al. (2023) discovered that technology poses the most significant obstacle for leaders in organizational change. Introducing new systems or technology can evoke emotions, including tension over functionality and fear of job displacement or system inefficiency. White et al. (2023) indicate that attention has changed from vision to technology in underperforming conversions. In successful transformation, executives view technology as the tool to accomplish the strategic objective.

Moreover, these successful institutions emphasize rapid deployment of new technology by concentrating on a minimal viable product rather than flawless execution. Finally, they allocated resources to enhance skill development in the workforce to leverage the latest technology, suggesting several components of leadership that can ensure that leaders become effective. These elements required from leadership are nestled in honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and a transparent culture. A lack of these ethical principles will mean that organizations or teams will not succeed or survive in the long run. Other influential leaders’ components are vision-driven, being a good team builder, knowing potential customers, and having sustainable competitiveness that may impact the customers’ or potential consumers’ perception of the quality of the organization’s services and products (Earley, 2015). To be an effective communicator, the leader should be inspirational and convincing (Earley, 2015). A leader who strives for effectiveness should act as a facilitator to generate discussion and consensus. Aitken and Von Treuer (2021) find that four critical practical leadership attributes can promote organizational attitudes towards a change or transformation. These qualities of a leader are effective communication, focus on relationships, stewardship of the organization and the change it is undertaking, and management of self. (Aitken and Von Treuer, 2021).

According to suitable governance arrangements, institutions should work to ensure that efficiency, effectiveness, economics and ethics are rooted in the management culture. These four elements will permeate all levels of the organization and its various internal and external stakeholders to the benefit of all. The Corporate Governance Code of Namibia (NamCode) (Namibian Stock Exchange, 2014) stresses that the governing boards should uphold ethical leadership. According to this Namcode, moral values, accountability, fairness, and transparency are the characteristics of responsible leaders. Northouse (2016) argues that the most popular approach to leadership since the 1980s is the transformational leadership approach.

The term ‘transformation’ implies changing and developing individuals (Northouse, 2016). Marisya et al. (2023) define transformational leadership as a style that boosts followers’ motivation, morale, and performance through various methods. However, according to McCloskey (2015), transformational leadership involves establishing, maintaining, and improving relationships between leaders and followers, followers and leaders, and among leaders to achieve a shared vision based on common values for the benefit of the community they serve together. During this service and partnership process, the leader, follower, and community gradually align more closely with the community’s ethos, vision, and values (McCloskey, 2015).

As defined by Northouse (2016) and McCloskey (2015), transformational leadership involves developing team members who work to achieve their organization’s goal. Liang et al. (2017) define transformational leaders as individuals who establish respect and trust within their team by showing personal care for team members, effectively communicating the organization’s vision, and motivating team members to shift their focus from individual benefits to achieving the organization’s goals.

Previous researchers have found four qualities that describe transformational leadership, as agreed upon by all writers attempting to define this leadership style (Choi et al., 2016; Lajole et al. and Brunelle, 2017). The four aspects are idealistic influence, inspiring drive, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration. Exemplary leadership and motivating inspiration can lead to team members exceeding expectations. Svendsen and Joensson (2016) assert that motivating and inspiring team members involves striving to accomplish the organization’s objectives. Cherry (2023) suggests that having a clear vision and motivating transformational leaders may stimulate transformation within team members. Transformational leaders provide intellectual stimulation that challenges team members’ conventional methods. It encourages the development of innovative working and problem-solving approaches (Asa et al., 2023). Creative methods of functioning and problem-solving are crucial in academic institutions, which serve as hubs of knowledge in society. The last attribute, care for the person, involves leaders empowering team members by aligning the aims of team members, the leader, and the company. This trait pertains to the leader’s ability to listen attentively and create an environment where team members may freely share their complaints and suggestions without hesitation (Svendsen and Joensson, 2016).

The writers of this paper concur with Maisyura et al. (2022) that transformational leadership is the most suitable leadership style for a transformation process. Transformational leaders possess a visionary component, have staying strength, and offer energy and support throughout a transition process. They are imaginative change agents who embrace criticism and ideas, qualities highly valued in higher education.

3.Research Methodology – Materials and Methods

3.1 Design

This article employed a mixed-method approach to collect data from the leadership cadre at public institutions of higher education in Namibia. Mixed methods combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies to thoroughly comprehend study aims, improve validity through triangulation, and mitigate biases. The design is ideal for capturing the view of leadership regarding the style of leadership needed for an institutional transformation at public institutions of higher education in Namibia. This method offers adaptability and additional perspectives and enhances understanding of subjective and objective data elements, aiding in making well-informed conclusions and recommendations (Creswell and Plato Clark, 2017). The researchers employed thematic analysis for the qualitative data and descriptive statistics for the quantitative data.

3.2 Participants

Namibia’s two public institutions of higher education are the sources for the article’s data collection.   Table 1 reflects the population and the sample for the article. The population for this study was the council, executive management, and middle management of the academic cadre of the two public institutions of higher education in Namibia. The council representatives are the chairpersons and student representatives. The vice-chancellors and the deputy/vice-chancellors represent the executive management. All the deans from middle management and all heads of departments represent the lower management at the various academic departments. The study employed a purposive sampling technique. The article employed many mitigation strategies to ensure an average response rate of 75% to reduce the sampling bias.


                                               Table 1: Distribution of Participants Management

Position Instrument employed Population size Sample size Actual response rate % of the sample
Council members with voting rights exclude executive management Semi-structured interview schedule 23 4 4 100%
Executive Management Semi-structured interview schedule and hard copy survey online survey 11 5 5 100%
Middle management of academic cadre Online survey 14 14 14 100%
Lower management of academic cadre Electronic survey online survey 89 89 61 68.5%


Total   137


112  84




                         Source: Authors’’ compilation from semi-structured interviews and a survey (2023)

 3.3 Data Analysis

The article employed a thematic analysis to independently identify and summarise the key themes from the interview transcripts and online survey responses. The study adhered to Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis approach, which included becoming acquainted with the data, creating initial categories, identifying and evaluating themes, and defining and labelling them. Compared to other methods, the thematic analysis is flexible because the technique can adapt to historical, social, cultural, economic, and political factors that may impact the topic under review for this journal. Furthermore, the researchers can tailor it to their specific objectives. The cyclical transition from text sections to the entire data set was necessary for coding and analysis using ATLAS. ti to conduct reflexive thematic analysis. Interviews were transcribed to ensure accurate identification of codes and themes. The study opted for thematic analysis to assist in identifying recurring patterns and themes in interview transcripts and open-ended survey answers. Analysis was aided by using ATLAS.ti software. Methodological rigor was used during the qualitative data analysis to ensure the findings’ validity and reliability. The last steps included condensing data and making conclusions utilizing the method (Miles et al., 2014).

Furthermore, the data was scrutinized to identify codes and group them according to the two themes. The software for the quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics with the aid of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The software SurveyMonkey was employed to collect quantitative data electronically. The quantitative data was presented visually in graphs and charts to aid understanding.

3.4 Ethical considerations

The researchers adhere to privacy and anonymity throughout the data collection, analysis, and interpretation of project sets gained. The procedure included a transparent explanation of the research objectives, methodologies, and assurances of confidentiality. Each participant was required to sign an informed consent letter, which covered the ethical clearance issues regarding the confidentiality of respondents and participants, and voluntarily withdraw during any stage of the data collection process. The computerized surveys were mailed, and follow-up emails were sent to increase response rates. If a participant consented, an appointment was scheduled at the most convenient date and time for the participant to participate in the data collection process.


The section reflects the two themes and the codes identified for each theme to address the article’s aim. ATLAS.ti.Aid in creating the codes and themes.

4.1. Qualitative data

       Figure 1: Theme 1 Challenges of transformation

       Source: Authors’ compilation of semi-structured interviews regarding institutional transformation challenges (2024)

Figure 1 reflects the first theme, the challenges of institutional transformation, and the two codes: the lack of resources and leadership.

                           Figure 2: Leadership requirements for a successful intuitional transformation

     Source: Authors compilation of interviews regarding leadership to guide institutional transformation (2024)

Figure 2 reflects the theme: requirements for a leader to lead a successful institutional transformation. The theme comprises of six codes. These codes are proactiveness, vision, ethics, transparency, integrity, and innovation.

4.2 Quantitative data

 The subsection offers the qualitative data findings.

                   Figure 3: Breakdown of factors that may negatively impact institutional transformation

                                           Source: Authors’ compilation from a survey (2024)

Figure 3 illustrates the factors influencing an institutional transformation process based on survey results. The respondents may opt for more than one option. The data shows that 79.5% of respondents identified a lack of vision, 76.9% highlighted a lack of appropriate leadership, and 73.1% pointed out a deficiency in effective and continuous communication. 67.9% identified a lack of trust among team members, while 66.7% indicated forgetting to persuade stakeholders of the benefits of institutional transformation. 64.1% of respondents noted a lack of accurate evaluation of resources for the change, while 55.1% pointed out a failure to align the institutional transformation goal with the organization’s culture. Less than half of the participants (48.7%) identified a lack of urgency in the organizational change among team members. 43.6% mentioned a lack of short-term victories, and 30.8% noted that success is announced prematurely during the institutional transformation. Respondents were asked an open-ended question in the survey to provide their ideas on elements that might hinder organizational change.

                       Figure 4: Breakdown of responses regarding the characteristics of an effective leader to guide the transformation.

Source: Authors’ compilation from a survey (2024)

 The breakdown of Figure 4 reflects the following characteristics of leadership that guide a successful institutional transformation. The % indicated in the Figure reflects the % of participants who opted for the specific characteristic. These characteristics include being a good listener, flexible, an example to team members, honest, transparent, vision, and inspiring and trusting co-workers. A Cronbach Alpha test was employed to measure the reliability of the survey instrument. The Gronbach Alpha shows a of 0.873. The instrument’s validity is enhanced by pilot testing the survey based on the objectives set for the article. Furthermore, the researchers consider the online survey the most appropriate instrument for gathering data from the vast sample for this study.


Higher education institutions must adapt to globalization, technological breakthroughs, and changing social needs to remain relevant. Coccoli et al. (2014) contend that higher education must adapt to meet evolving societal needs and stay pertinent in a rapidly changing global environment. The opinion is consistent with the survey, emphasizing several elements that impact institutional transformation, such as a lack of vision, suitable leadership, and effective communication. The discussion section consists of the following two headings: the challenges of an institutional transformation and the requirements for leadership to drive a successful and sustainable transformation.

5.1 Challenges of institutional transformation

Respondents and participants pinpointed a deficiency of resources, team members’ trust, and a failure to synchronize the goals with the institution’s values. According to the semi-structured interview responses, the lack of resources and leadership are the most pertinent challenges of institutional transformation. The data from the online semi-structured survey reflects the following challenges for a successful and sustainable transformation. Firstly, the lack of a vision was opted by 79.5% of the respondents. Kotter (2014) supports these challenges and states that the institutional transformation process will likely fail without a guiding vision. A vision for institutional transformation is to provide clear direction, guidance, and a comprehensive knowledge of its significance and necessity. Without a clear vision, expenses and time might escalate, even derailing institutional development to the disadvantage of all stakeholders (Kotter, 2014).

The survey data findings indicate further that a lack of suitable leadership (76.9%) and a lack of communication 73.1%) may significantly impact institutional transformation. These challenges, as indicated by the participants, are supported by Aitken and Von Treuer (2021), who emphasize the crucial role of leadership in institutional transformation, pointing out that effective communication, relationship focus, stewardship, and self-management are critical elements of leadership qualities that impact organizational attitudes towards change. Fourthly, the lack of trust amongst the team members may contribute to the negative perception of a proposed transformation. White et al. (2023) argue that a culture of trust and psychological safety, which involves trust and care from leaders, can help make a challenging shift more emotionally tolerable. According to the respondents, the second last challenge is to neglect to convince all stakeholders of the benefits of the transformation process. This challenge is concurred by Kotter (2014), who argues that managers are enthusiastic about initiating institutional transformation but often neglect thorough preparation and clear communication with all stakeholders. Managers neglect crucial concerns that might fail in the institutional transformation process. Neglect by management A lack of proper assessment of resources from the semi-structured interview and online survey responses may significantly impact resources such as finance, information, tangible resources and human resources. Without a clear assessment of resources, expenses and time might escalate, even derailing institutional development (Kotter, 2014). Based on the empirical evidence and the literature studied, the leadership style practice during an institutional transformation may contribute to mitigating the challenges encountered during an institutional transformation.

5.2 Requirements for leadership to drive a successful and sustainable transformation

The survey and semi-structured interview responses emphasize the significance of resource mobilization, transparency, change management protocols, and stakeholder involvement in enabling institutional transformation. The results support the importance of solid leadership, vision-driven tactics, and ethical conduct in achieving successful change, as highlighted in the literature. The codes identified from the semi-structured interviews reveal the following leadership requirements for a successful institutional transformation. These six codes under the theme of leadership are proactiveness, vision, ethics, transparency, integrity, and innovation. According to the participant’s responses in the online survey,  certain qualities should be vested in the leadership to drive a successful institutional transformational process. These leadership qualities are good listening, flexibility, being an example to team members, honesty, transparency, vision, inspiration, and trusting co-workers.

According to the responses from both instruments, a transformational leadership style is the most appropriate to drive an institutional transformation because all the features required from the leadership style are transformational leadership. As per Earley’s (2015) definition, honesty, integrity, vision, and good communication are essential components of effective leadership, necessary for motivating and rallying stakeholders toward a shared objective. Aitken and Von Treuer (2021) emphasize the crucial role of leadership in institutional transformation, pointing out that effective communication, relationship focus, stewardship, and self-management are critical elements of leadership qualities that impact organizational attitudes toward transformation. Northouse (2016) emphasizes that transformational leadership is a standard method for facilitating institutional transformation. This leadership style promotes a common goal, stimulates creativity, and enables followers to attain personal and professional development. The literature describes transformational leadership’s four key features: idealized influence, inspiring motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual concern. These traits are crucial in motivating and mobilizing teams towards achieving corporate objectives. The article only looks at the perspectives of leadership regarding institutional transformation.

The strength of the paper lies in the high response rate of the respondents and participants to the call to participate in the data collection process. Furthermore, the mitigations and actions in place enhance the trustworthiness, validity and reliability. The limitations of the paper are the level of respondents’ honesty the exclusion of the support staff, and the academic staff, which may yield a different outcome or add more value to the study. The paper’s findings may guide the appointment of the most appropriate leadership at these two public institutions.

Further studies can add value to the view on leadership’s impact on institutional transformation. These studies can look at the perspectives of private institutions in higher learning in Namibia, The South African Development Community (SADEC), Africa, and the rest of the world.   These further studies can contribute to knowledge, and institutions of higher learning globally may identify areas in leadership styles and practices where adjustments and changes can be made to ensure a sustainable transformation to cope with the continuous demand of the environment in which these institutions of higher learning function. Furthermore,  further studies are required to gain the perspectives of the support staff and the academics regarding the impact of transformational leadership on institutional transformation.


The literature studied for the article complemented the data collected. It is evident from the article that certain qualities are required to lead an institutional transformation. These leadership qualities are equally important for institutions of higher learning as the factories of knowledge to transform and stay relevant in the continuously changing environment in which they operate. Furthermore, these institutions of higher learning should transform to be innovative and meet the changing demands of their various stakeholders. Obstacles such as a lack of vision, resources, and trust within the team may adversely impact a transformational process. The data also recognize relationship-building, transparency, and stakeholder engagement as facing effective institutional transformation. The article shows that the transformational leadership style has all the required features to guide an effective and sustainable transformational process. Furthermore, it is evident from the article. If the leadership style opted for embracing the qualities of a transformational leader, institutions of higher learning may overcome problems, grasp opportunities, and achieve their goal of offering effective higher education to the Namibian society.


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