The leadership of entrepreneurialism in technical and further education colleges
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The provision of vocational education and training is largely provided by the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and institutes, which have been established throughout Australia. All of these colleges and institutes are the responsibility of the respective State governments and are generally considered by those governments as strategic instruments of government particularly in regard to the preparation of people for employment and addressing deficiencies within the workforce. As more emphasis has been placed upon government entities to be more entrepreneurial and corporate in their outlook, pressures for reform of the TAFE sector have also increased. These pressures have included changes to funding arrangements, increased compliance regimes and a freeing of the training delivery to encourage the establishment of private providers. This thesis explores how Chief Executive Officers and Middle Level Managers within the TAFE environment are responding to those challenges. Forty-seven senior TAFE managers are interviewed to ascertain their perspectives on the community and government expectations of TAFE and how they believe TAFE is reacting to these challenges. Resulting from the research has been the emergence of entrepreneurship in TAFE. The notion of entrepreneurship in TAFE seems to capture a sense of change, a sense of emerging vibrance, and is often used to describe innovation and risk taking within the TAFE environment. The word entrepreneurial, entrepreneurialism, entrepreneurship and other derivations of the word are loosely employed by TAFE personnel to describe particular phenomenon within TAFE. Within this thesis the treatment of entrepreneurship as a definitive concept is recognised as problematic and it is therefore treated in a way that aligns to the TAFE environment and not necessarily as defined by traditional entrepreneurial theory.The resulting research has found that TAFE leaders are working in an environment that has a multiplicity of expectations and demands that challenge the leadership of TAFE. The research finds that many of the TAFE leaders strive to act entrepreneurially whilst attempting to manage an environment that is constrained by its policy frameworks, industrial relations requirements, funding arrangements and national and state compliance frameworks. The research questions whether governments should provide TAFE with greater capacity to act entrepreneurially; governments might, as a result be rewarded through greater achievements from the TAFE sector. While the research points to a number of highly successful leaders and leadership practices in TAFE it has also found that many leaders seem to rely upon intuitiveness and past experience to lead within their environments. Finally the research posits a framework for leadership within TAFE where the leadership styles of emotional intelligence, path-goal and leader-member exchange (LMX) are merged and integrated to provide a comprehensive quality leadership framework that will achieve positive outcomes: A framework that seeks to provide a practical guide to future leadership training and development in TAFE. In addition to the leadership framework the research has identified a number of intrinsic transformational drivers and extrinsic transformational drivers, which contribute to the success of leadership in TAFE and similarly a number of impediments, which restrict TAFE leaders.
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