Faculty Governance and Global Affairs
International & European Governance
Glass Cliff or Leadership Advantage?
Gender Differences in Motivation to Accept a Senior Academic
Management Position within Dutch Universities
Student: L.C. (Lisa) Warmenhoven Student number: s1610309
Degree: Master Public Administration; International & European Governance, Leiden University, Campus The Hague
Capstone: Women in Senior Civil Service: Breaking the Glass Ceiling, but facing a Glass Cliff?
Supervisors: Prof. dr. S.M. (Sandra) Groeneveld,
J.E.T. (Eduard) Schmidt, MSc
Second reader: Dr. M. (Marja) Beerkens Draft Deadline: July 9, 2018, 23:59
Voor u ligt het eindproduct van een aantal maanden onderzoek doen. De afronding van deze
scriptie betekent tegelijkertijd het behalen van mijn masterdiploma International & European
Governance aan de Universiteit van Leiden. Ik wil daarom graag op deze plek een aantal mensen
bedanken die hebben bijgedragen aan de afronding van dit onderzoek.
Allereerst de respondenten die hebben meegewerkt aan dit onderzoek. Zonder de
medewerking van tien fascinerende hoogleraren was dit afstudeeronderzoek niet mogelijk
geweest. Stuk voor stuk hebben zij inhoudelijk bijgedragen aan het inzichtelijk maken van het fenomeen ‘glazen klif’ binnen de Nederlandse academische wereld. Daarnaast gaat mijn dank
gaat uit naar mijn scriptiebegeleiders Sandra Groeneveld en Eduard Schmidt. Allereerst, wil ik
jullie graag bedanken voor de kans die jullie mij geboden hebben om - ondanks het
maximumaantal van twee kandidaten - als derde kandidaat deel te nemen aan jullie Capstone
project. Daarnaast dank voor jullie kritische blik, constructieve feedback, aandacht en tijd. Dit heeft ervoor gezorgd dat ik elke keer weer met volle energie en motivatie aan de slag ging. Mijn
scriptie is daardoor geworden wat het nu is. Ik heb onze samenwerking dan ook als zeer prettig
ervaren. Verder wil ik ook mijn voormalig opdrachtgever Duco Hoogland (Semafoon) en alle collega’s bij Seastarters bedanken. Een aantal maanden hebben jullie voor enige afleiding gezorgd
tijdens het schrijven van mijn onderzoek, wat niet altijd heeft bijgedragen aan de productiviteit. Maar het heeft het wel tot een extra leerzame tijd gemaakt. Ik ben er inmiddels achter dat
consultancy goed bij mij past. Bedankt voor deze ervaring! Ook gaat mijn dank uit naar mijn
vriendinnen, waarvan twee in het bijzonder: Ingeborg van der Ven en Angela Bogaard.
Inhoudelijke lezingen die we samen hebben bijgewoond en interessante artikelen die werden gedeeld over vrouwen in de wetenschap (o.a. gepubliceerd via ScienceGuide) waren een zeer
interessante toegevoegde waarde aan mijn afstuderen. Niet te vergeten de peptalks, etentjes en
bezoekjes aan de sauna. Ter afsluiting, wil ik mijn vriend Michiel Mees speciaal bedanken. Jouw
oneindige betrokkenheid thuis en motiverende woorden hebben eraan bijgedragen dat ik mijn hoofd koel heb weten te houden en mijn master uiteindelijk succesvol heb weten af te ronden. Jij
bent de reden dat ik het afronden van deze studie nooit heb opgegeven, ondanks de lastige
persoonlijke situatie waarin ik afgelopen jaar verkeerde. Vanaf het begin tot het eind tijdens het
schrijven van mijn scriptie heb ik ontzettend veel steun van jou gehad. Ik weet dat ik altijd op je kan bouwen, ook in periodes waarin het minder gaat. Ik ben je ontzettend dankbaar!
Ik wens ik u veel leesplezier,
Women are still under-represented within the senior levels of Dutch academia. With a
percentage of 19 female professors and not even 15 per cent women represented within senior academic management positions; the Netherlands is at the lowest end of European ranking. Most recent research to this issue framed the metaphor of the glass cliff as a follow-up to the dominant paradigm of the glass ceiling. It refers to women facing a high risk of failure in leadership positions, also referred as glass cliff positions. This study considered senior academic management positions in Dutch universities as so-called ‘academic glass cliff positions’ for female professors. One of the explanations to why women are represented in such precarious leadership positions is given by individual preferences of women in
combination with the concept of the leadership advantage. This view suggests that women are likelier than men to consciously accept riskful leadership positions, due to the limited
alternative opportunities they have.
This study formulated whether micro-foundations of the glass cliff concept contributed to the representation of women in senior academic management within Dutch universities. The question raised as to whether these academic glass cliff positions were considered as a leadership advantage by female professors. To analyze the concept on a micro-level, gender differences in motivations to accept a senior academic management position were examined. Qualitative research was conducted through ten interviews within two Dutch universities during the month of April 2018. It provided an insight in the motivations, considerations, and viewpoints of male and female professors. The general proposition on the glass cliff concept is partly confirmed. The results illustrated that male and female professors reached senior academic management in diferent ways, while that risk-perceptions and risk-taking behaviors of men and women were predominantly comparable. Further, similarities and differences in motivations were identified. The main difference in gender is found in the motivation of female professors to empower other (female) academics within the university. This could be regarded as ‘the leadership advantage’ of senior academic management positions for women within Dutch universities.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 6
1.1 Justification ... 9
1.1.1 Scientific Relevance ... 10
1.1.2 Societal Relevance ... 10
1.2 Reading Guide ... 12
2. Research Setting: Dutch Universities 13 2.1 The Dutch Higher Education Sector ... 13
2.1.1 The Dutch Higher Education System ... 13
2.1.2 The Dutch Academic and Adminstrative Hierachical Ranks ... 14
2.1.3 The Dutch Academic Governance Structure ... 15
2.2 Senior Academic Management ... 17
2.3 A Glass Cliff in Academia ... 19
2.3.1 The Challenging Position of Senior Academic Mangers ... 19
2.3.2 The Challenging Academic Management Context ... 20
2.3.3 Being a Female in Academia as a Challenge ... 21
2.3.4 Conclusion ... 22
3. Theoretical Framework 23 3.1 From Glas Ceiling to Glass Cliff ... 23
3.2 Motivation to Accept a Senior Academic Mangement Position ... 27
3.2.1 Managerial Motivation: The Leadership Advantage ... 28
3.2.2 Stereotypes Beliefs about Gender and Leadership ... 30
3.2.3 Network and Mentors ... 31
3.2.4 Visibility ... 31
3.2.5 Empowerment ... 32
3.2.6 Active Representation ... 33
3.2.7 Organizational Equity ... 33
4. Research Methodology 34 4.1 Research Design ... 34
4.1.1 Unit of Analysis and Unit of Observation ... 35
4.1.3 Interviewee List ... 37
4.2 Research Methods ... 38
4.2.1 Data Collection ... 38
4.2.2 Operationalization ... 39
4.3 Analytical Strategy ... 40
4.3.1 Qualitative Data Analysis Strategy ... 40
4.3.2 Mode of Comparison: Coding ... 40
4.3.3 Preliminary Coding Scheme ... 42
4.4 Validity & Reliability ... 44
5. Findings 46 5.1 Glass Cliff in Dutch Academia ... 46
5.1.1 The Risk of Reputational Damage ... 47
5.1.2 The Risk of Losing Academic Credibility ... 49
5.1.3 Conclusion ... 51
5.2 Supply versus Demand ... 52
5.2.1 Conclusion ... 56
5.3 Gender Differences in Motivation to Become a Senior Academic Manager ... 57
5.3.1 The leadership advantage ... 57
5.3.2 Leadership Style ... 61
5.3.3 Network and Mentors ... 63
5.3.4 Visibility ... 66
5.3.5 Empowerment ... 70
5.3.6 Active Representation ... 73
5.3.7 Organizational Equity ... 76
6. Conclusion & Discussion 79 6.1 Conclusion ... 79
6.2 Discussion ... 80
6.2.1 Scientific and Social Contribution ... 80
6.2.2 Limitations and Future Research ... 81
Appendix I: Interview Format 109
Worldwide, women’s representation in senior- or top leadership positions in public and private sectors is limited despite significant advances in education attainment, political participation, and professional development over the last half-century (e.g. Barreto, Ryan & Schmitt, 2009; Pande & Ford, 2011; Davidson & Burke, 2012; Miller, Benson & Handhley, 2016). In European corporate boards, parliaments, and civil services, male leaders still outnumber female leaders by considerable margins (European Commission, 2010; OECD, 2016). A growing number of scholars delve into reasons for the gender gap in leadership positions, primarily to understand why women are under-represented in senior- and top leadership positions, to see if women have equal opportunities (or face obstacles) to climb the career ladder, and to figure out what the keys are for women to be successful at the top. Most recent research on this matter has suggested the tendency for women being more likely appointed to leadership positions that are associated with risk. It frames the continuing challenges women face when they manage to break through the glass ceiling into leadership positions. This is known as “the glass cliff” (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007).
In the Netherlands, the academic sector is one of the non-profit sectors in which the gender leadership gap is still significantly present (European Commission, 2014; CBS, 2016; LNVH, 2017). Dutch women nowadays are equally educated as Dutch men; even more women than men get a doctoral degree at Dutch universities (53.5 per cent), and almost as many women as men obtain a PhD (43 per cent) (LNVH, 2017). Nevertheless, not even one-fifth of the Dutch professors are female (19.3 per cent) (LNVH, 2017). Apparently, the higher the academic rank, the lower the share of women (LNVH, 2015). It seems that many women leave academia after completing their Masters or PhD, while others stick around in the lower academic ranks of university lecturers (39.3 per cent), and university senior lecturers (27.5 per cent) (LNVH, 2017). Whereas men stay, often get promoted to professorship (LNVH, 2017), dominating the Dutch academic top (80.7 per cent) (Purkayastha & Villares, 2015). The outflow of women in each subsequent step on the academic career ladder is, therefore, characterized by the ‘leaky pipeline’ phenomenon (Dubois-Shaik & Fusulier, 2015).
professors in 2016 (Ten Dam, 2003; LNVH, 2009; CBS, 2016; LNVH 2017). If it continues at this pace, it will take until 2030 for academia to reach a ‘critical mass’ of 30 per cent female (Gerritsen, Verdonk & Visser, 2009; European Commission, 2016), which is
considered by the Dutch government as a proportion that is large enough for internal culture change (LNVH, 2015; CBS, 2016). The Dutch academic sector is, therefore, described as one of the most male-dominated in Europe (Matthews, 2017).
As academics provide leadership to the university (Huisman, De Boer &
Goedegebuure, 2006: 229), consequently, a minor number of women come on the path of administrative leadership within academia (hereafter: ‘academic management’). Currently, women hold just 14.7 per cent of the senior academic management positions of faculty deans (LNVH, 2017). Notably, this number contradicts the relatively high number of women in academic executive and supervisory boards, where a modest increase in recent years is noticeable (LNVH, 2017). The academic management top is quite well on its way of being diverse, where women currently hold almost one-third of the executive positions (28.2 per cent), and even more than one-third of the supervisory positions (35.7 per cent) (LNVH, 2017). Nevertheless, the Dutch academic sector still has a long way to go (Mollee, 2016).
context. Compared to men, they are less likely to exert authority or to receive support (Lyness & Thompson, 1997, 2000; Sabharwal, 2015; Ryan et al., 2016; Glass & Cook, 2016). In addition, women could face a double bind regarding their role as a manager and their social role they hold in society, also referred as role incongruity (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001; Vinnicombe & Singh, 2003; Eagly & Carli, 2007; Sabharwal, 2013: 401). In other words, being a minority within academic management positions contributes to extra challenges for female professors to be become successful academic managers.
The question arises what explains career mobility of female professors to senior academic management within Dutch universities. The recently coined theory on the glass cliff will help find possible explanations in this study. It points out that women are more likely than men to remain facing challenges in senior- and top management positions, accompanied with a high risk of failure (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). This theory is applicable for senior academic management positions, as these positions can be characterized as both risky and precarious because of various reasons. Considering the male-dominated context of
universities (Matthews, 2017), women are more likely than men to receive greater criticism and less positive evaluations (Eagly, Makhijani & Klonsky, 1992); are less likely than men to be part of substantial networks and support systems, wherefore they feel less empowered (Sabharwal, 2013: 400-402; Ryan et al., 2016: 447); and are more likely than men to face role-incongruity (Hoobler et al., 2011: 151; Sabharwal, 2013: 401). Therefore, senior academic management positions are highly challenging for a minority of female professors, and could be considered as ‘academic glass cliff positions.’ Chapter two offers a more comprehensive description of ‘the glass cliff in academia.’
It is of great concern that female professors are under-represented within Dutch universities. Although, it is even more worrisome that the limited number of women who are breaking through the ‘academic glass ceiling’ are more likely than men to risk failure (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007) and to “fall of the cliff” (Sabharwal, 2013). To understand why some
women are represented in so-called ‘academic glass cliff positions,’ it is the perfect setting to examine career mobility in combination with the concept of the glass cliff. Research on the glass ceiling and glass cliff has focused mainly on macro-level explanatory factors,
could be an outcome of preferences and decisions (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007), this study will focus on an alternative perspective. It entails the analysis of individual motivations to accept senior academic management positions within Dutch universities. Regarding the glass cliff concept, the expectation is that female professors likely have other motivations than men to accept precarious leadership positions. Considering that they have limited alternative opportunities in a male-dominated context (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007), it might be “their only chance” (McCullough, 2014). To understand if the glass cliff explains gender differences
in motivations of professors, both males and females are involved in this study. The research question that forms the fundamental core of this study is:
Why do male and female professors choose to accept a senior academic management position within Dutch universities?
To answer this central research question, several sub-questions need to be answered: 1) What does the glass cliff entail within Dutch academia?
2) How do male and female professors reach a senior academic management position? 3) What are the motivations of male and female professors to accept a senior academic
The purpose of this study is to understand if there are gender differences in motivations of professors to accept senior academic management positions within Dutch universities. The answers to these research questions results from the analysis of gathered interview data. The concept of the glass cliff is used as the leading concept to help find possible explanations in this study (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). This means that this study is explanatory and theory-driven (Bryman, 2012). In addition, this study aimed at expanding on existing glass cliff theory. This hybrid approach means that this study is both deductive and inductive in nature (Babbie, 2013: 21-23). The glass cliff theory and its usage for this study is further explained in chapter three.
essential issue in the Netherlands in the years to come. The paragraphs hereunder point out the urgency and relevance of this study.
1.1.1 Scientific Relevance
This research is of scientific relevance, as not much research is done on the glass cliff phenomenon within the Netherlands (Groeneveld, 2009: 1). Research on this matter can, therefore, be considered to be a valuable addition to existing knowledge (Bowling, Kelleher, Jones & Wright, 2006). The concept has been examined largely in US, British, and Australian private (Catalyst, 2004; Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007; Brady Isaacs, Reeves, Burroway & Reynolds, 2011; Cook & Glass, 2013), and a few public organizations (e.g., Kerr, Miller & Reid, 2004; Bowling et al., 2006; Smith, 2014). In addition, empirical evidence for the glass cliff within the academic sector in The Netherlands is still limited. Further, previous studies have been conducted in contexts in which women are breaking through the glass ceiling in noticeable numbers (Ryan et al., 2016), which is not the case in the Dutch academic sector. Nevertheless, Ryan and Haslam (2016) suggested in their latest report that the glass cliff can also occur in contexts in which the number of female leaders is limited. With regard to the challenges a minority of women face in male-dominated organizations, senior academic management positions could be considered as ‘glass cliff positions.’ Moreover, existing research has mainly enhanced the understanding of the institutional and organizational challenges that women face to progress in their academic careers. And, examined processes that may influence selection bias, stereotypic beliefs and organizational strategies (Ryan & Haslam, 2007). In contrast, relatively little is known why some women on an individual level decide to accept glass cliff positions and what happens after they reach such positions (Ryan
et al., 2016). This literature gap shows the need for more detailed research to the glass cliff in relation to individual motivation and experiences (Groeneveld, 2009) within the Dutch academic sector. Complementing existing macro-level scholarship with an advanced micro-level theoretical framework in this study is essential to contribute to existing knowledge on the glass cliff.
1.1.2 Societal Relevance
The societal relevance of this research lies in the opportunity to contribute to a better understanding of individual motivations for career mobility within the academic sector. Research findings on the micro-foundations of the glass cliff can possibly produce an insight in the challenges women face in their upward mobility and their strategic and rational
the quality of the work environment that can lead to inclusion and success of women in leadership roles.” In other words, it is essential that research also sheds light on ensuring a
satisfactory work environment for women to prevent outflow. This study could contribute to the unfolding of challenges women face within their academic positions. It might attribute to the existing knowledge of universities executive boards, the national government, and other involved organizations,1 to set up a more comprehensive diversity management strategy. This is, first of all, important as Dutch universities are bound to respect European and Dutch legal obligations related to gender equality and gender discrimination. Secondly, it is necessary that universities provide a gender-friendly work environment, in order to retain and attract female talent, and prevent an outflow of knowledge (The European Institute of Gender Equality, 2016). Thirdly, various studies have shown that gender diversity can have a positive effect on organization performance, as it stimulates innovation and new ways of ‘problem-solving’ (e.g. Kochan et al., 2002; Levine & Thomas, 2002; Bredero et al., 2003; Catalyst, 2004; Smith, 2006; Van den Brink & Brouns, 2006; Armstrong et al., 2010). Finally, as Gerdi Verbeet, former chairman of the ‘Talent to the Top’ foundation in the Netherlands, issued: public services should “practice what they preach,” and thus carry out a good diverse gender
leadership role model (Walstra, 2015).
Furthermore, attention for gender representation in academia has been growing in the public debate; making this topic highly relevant. It has increasingly become a human resource management topic (Groeneveld & Verbeek, 2012). Agreed in the Lisbon Strategy for
Education in 2000, the European Union aim was to reach 25 per cent female professors within universities in 2010 (LNVH, 2015; European Commission, 2016). However, the proportion of female professors at Dutch universities increases too slow (Ten Dam, 2003; LNVH, 2009; 2017). It might take until 2022 for the Netherlands to reach this 25 per cent goal (European Commission, 2016). In addition, at least two more generations will be needed before an equal ratio of male to female professors in the Netherlands is reached (LNVH, 2016). This issue, therefore, is a hot topic of ongoing discussions in the Netherlands. It has received much attention of key policymakers over the past years, and still gains prominence on the Dutch government policy agenda (e.g. Noordenbos 1995; 2000; Portegijs & Brugman 1998; Bosch, 2002; Van den Brink & Brouns, 2006; Groeneveld, 2009; Groeneveld & Verbeek, 2012; Schreiber, 2013). To stimulate inflow and mobility, and hamper the outflow of talented
1e.g. the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (in Dutch: ‘Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek;’
female academics, various national policies and legislation have been initiated (Rijksoverheid, 2018c). Last year, previous Dutch Minister of Education, Culture, and Science, Jet
Bussemaker, launched, for example, the so-called ‘Westerdijk Talent Scheme.’ This
programme sets the target to appoint two hundred extra female professors by 2020, in order to boost female scientific talent in the Netherlands (NWO, 2018). Furthermore, role models are being showcased by handing out various awards for successful female academics (The Young Academy, 2018: 35). Moreover, at the time of writing - on March 7, 2018, the discussion flared up regarding a gender quota within academia in order to reach the final target of 30 per cent women at the top by 2025 (Dekker, 2018). Quotas and other forms of positive
discrimination for female academics are, however, a highly sensitive topic within Dutch academia, as it is considered that it should be ‘all about quality’ (Van der Ven, 2018). Female professors would rather not regard themselves as “Westerdijk professors” (Van der Ven,
2018). Besides numerous governmental initiatives, a large number of universities signed the Talent to the Top Charter (2008). This charter sets targets for the number of academic
management positions for women within a certain period of time (SCP, 2012; Rijksoverheid, 2018c). Other supporting initiatives by universities include the implementation of tenure tracks, dedicated to outstanding female academics (The Young Academy, 2018: 36).
1.2 Reading Guide
This study is outlined in six chapters. To provide the necessary background information to understand the research setting of this study, chapter two consists of a comprehensive
2. Research Setting: Dutch Universities
This chapter aims to provide a clear and comprehensive analytical description of the research setting: universities within the academic sector in the Netherlands. The definition of the academic sector in general is reviewed, including the definition of universities, and its background and context are examined. The academic sector characterized in this study is embodied within the Dutch non-profit sector, which entails a variety of privatized state agencies (including public universities), that receive government subsidies, and provide services to the public on account of the government (Burger et al., 2001: 9-10). The academic sector is referred to as ‘the sector that provides public tertiary education’, also ‘public higher education’ (The World Bank, 2017). A more detailed description of the Dutch higher
education system, including the university ranking structures, and the university governance structure, is provided in the first part of this chapter. The second part zooms in at the core subject of this study: senior academic management within Dutch universities. Concluding, the background and complex context of universities are illustrated in order to understand the three main aspects of precariousness of senior academic management positions, also referred to as ‘the academic glass cliff’ (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007).
2.1 The Dutch Higher Education Sector 2.1.1 The Dutch Higher Education System
The higher education system of the Netherlands consists out of three types of organizations: government-funded organizations, legal organizations providing higher education – not funded by the government, and private organizations (Nuffic, 2015). In this study, the focus lays on publicly funded higher education organizations. These public higher education organizations receive government funding based on various performance indicators, such as the number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded (Rijksoverheid, 2018a).
The Dutch higher education system is binary, which means that it comprises two main types of publicly funded higher education: higher professional education (in Dutch: ‘hoger beroepsonderwijs;’ ‘HBO’) provided at universities of applied sciences (in Dutch:
European Education Directory, 2014). In this study, the title of professor links to the latter type of publicly funded higher education organizations: research universities (hereafter: ‘universities’). The Netherlands has fourteen universities (Rijksoverheid, 2018a; VSNU, 2018). This study is conducted under professors in senior academic management positions in two Dutch universities. The selection of respondents is justified in chapter four.
2.1.2 The Dutch Academic and Adminstrative Hierachical Ranks
To understand how the titles of professors and deans are ranked in the organizational structure of Dutch universities, it is essential to understand the division between the academic and administrative hierarchical rankings structures in the Netherlands. Dutch universities categorize their employees according to the university job classification system (Huysse, 2018; VSNU, 2018).
Academic positions within Dutch universities are ranked by the positions (lowest to highest) of Ph.D. candidate (in Dutch: ‘promovendus’), research fellow (in Dutch: ‘postdoc’), university lecturer or assistant professor (in Dutch: ‘universitair docent;’ ‘UD’), university senior lecturer or associate professor (in Dutch: ‘universitair hoofddocent;’ ‘UHD’),2 and full professor (in Dutch: ‘hoogleraar’) (De Goede, Belder & De Jonge, 2013: 8).In this study, the title of ‘professor’ refers to the position of full professor.3 This is the most senior academic position in the system of academic ranks (De Goede et al., 2013: 10-13; VSNU, 2017).
Academic administrative management positions (hereafter: ‘academic management positions’) are ranked by the positions (lowest to highest) of department leader (in Dutch: ‘onderzoek- en onderwijsdirecteur’ of ‘vakgroepvoorzitter’), faculty (vice-)dean (in Dutch: ‘(vice-)decaan’), and university executives: the head of the university (in Dutch: ‘rector magnificus’), the vice-president of the university (in Dutch: ‘vice-voorzitter raad van bestuur’), and the president of the university (in Dutch: ‘voorzitter raad van bestuur’) (Huysse, J., 2018). Professors are exclusive to access senior and higher ranked academic management positions within universities, which starts at the position of faculty (vice-)dean (hereafter: ‘dean’). This is embedded in article 9.13 (4) of the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act (in Dutch: ‘Wet op het Hoger onderwijs en Wetenschappelijk onderzoek;’
2Note: There are no true equivalents in English for the Dutch academic job titles of ‘Hoogleraar’, ‘UHD’, and ‘UD’. The UK job titles of
‘professor’, ‘university senior lecturer’, and ‘university lecturer’ are most compatible, but not full equivalents. The North American job titles are (but are not equivalents of) ‘full-/associate- and assistant professor.’
3Note: The many ranks and titles for professors in the Netherlands can be somewhat confusing: ordinary professor (in Dutch: ‘gewoon
‘WHW’). The Dutch academic and administrative ranking structures are visualized in the figure hereunder.
2.1.3 The Dutch Academic Governance Structure
To understand the difference between senior and top academic management, this paragraph provides a brief overview of Dutch university governance. Important to note is that the majority of Dutch universities have a comparable governance structure. However, a number of universities have slightly different governance structures, based on historical roots.
The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture, and Science, currently Minister Van Engelshoven, has the political responsibibility to externally supervise universities
(Rijksoverheid, 2018b), along with other (non-)governmental organizations,4 to ensure good quality education and research (Mollee, 2016).
At the academic management top, Dutch universities are governed by two main bodies: the supervisory board (in Dutch: ‘raad van toezicht’), and the executive board (in Dutch: ‘college van bestuur’). The supervisory board supervises the work of the executive
4e.g. the independent Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and
Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU)
Figure 2. Governance Structure Dutch Universities
board (VSNU, 2018c), and consists out of external members, accountable to, and appointed by the Minister (Amaral, Jones & Karseth, 2002: 31). The management of the university lies in the hand of the executive board. As the highest administrative body, it is responsible for the appointment of senior academic managers, and professors (VSNU, 2018c). Usually consisting out of two or three members (see paragraph 2.1.2: 14), the university executives are appointed by the supervisory board (VSNU, 2018c). Only the head of the university always comes from an academic background, chosen from among the current and former deans of the university (VNSU, 2007: 6).
On the senior academic management level, the university is divided into faculties, comprising various subject areas (Amaral et al., 2002: 32). Each faculty has a faculty board (in Dutch: ‘faculteitsbestuur’), headed by a dean (Amaral et al., 2002: 32). All deans are represented in the council of deans, which provides advice to the executive board (Amaral et al., 2002: 32; Huisman et al., 2006: 229). In addition, they are often supported in their daily management tasks by a vice-dean research and a vice-dean education; faculty professors who are appointed to one of these positions by the dean. Further, faculties are subdivided into academic departments (in Dutch: ‘vakgroepen’), devoted to a particular academic discipline (Daalder, 2016: 199). The department leader, likewise chosen from among the faculty
2.2 Senior Academic Management
The previous section described the hierarchical ranks and governance structure of universities in the Netherlands, to understand how senior academic management positions relate to other academic and administrative positions within Dutch universities. In this section, the senior academic management position of dean will be outlined in detail in the first paragraph. In the second paragraph, the process of professionalization of senior academic management is described. This process towards new managerialism is crucial to consider, as it affected the position of deans considerably and it supports the explanatory potential to understand the current challenging position of senior academic managers. This contributes to the
understanding of why senior academic management positions are considered to be ‘glass cliff positions.’ The section hereafter will go deeper into how this aspect is integrated into one of the three aspects of ‘the academic glass cliff.’
2.2.1 The Deanship
In the Netherlands, the position of dean is a temporary full-time senior academic management position, occupied by a professor (Dearlove 2002: 270; WHW, Article 9.13, sub 4., 2018). The dean is appointed by the executive board for at least a 4-year period (Huisman et al., 2006: 229; WHW, Article 9.13, sub 1, 2018). As head of the faculty, the dean is charged with the responsibility of the faculty. Its tasks include the general management of the faculty, together with teaching and research (WHW, Article 9.14-15, 2018). The dean has the most powerful senior academic management position within Dutch universities (Huisman et al., 2006: 229). Before the 90ies, the position of dean was as a routine part-time job, according to years of service (Dearlove 2002; Peterson, 2014: 38). Today, professional management skills are required, as it includes a high level of management workload (Peterson, 2014: 38).
2.2.2 The Changing Senior Academic Management Profession to New Managerialism
objectives in the policies of the Dutch government since the late 1970s (Huisman et al., 2006: 229). The first step in this direction took place in 1971, by the introduction of a new Higher Education Act (in Dutch: ‘Wet Universitaire Bestuurshervorming;’ ‘WUB’) (Dekker, 2015: 9). Fundamental changes took place by the mid-1980s, after the publication of the white paper ‘Higher Education: Autonomy and Quality’ (in Dutch: Hoger Onderwijs Autonomie en kwaliteit’; de ‘Hoak’ nota). It placed the Dutch national government at a distance, solely having a boundary setting- and supervisory role (Van den Bos & Vis, 1995; De Boer et al., 2007: 29; Meek, Goedegebuure & De Boer, 2010a: 37). A professionalization of academic management, therefore, became necessary (Meek et al., 2010a: 37). In the 1990’s, the continuation of reforms got inspired by the so-called New Public Management (hereafter: ‘NPM’) practices. The academic organizational change was dominated by the attempt to make universities more ‘businesslike’ and performance-driven, using private sector management models, such as: customer orientation, benchmarking, and performance measurement (Meek
et al., 2010a: 32). Efficiency and effectiveness became leading values in university
governance (Huisman et al., 2006: 229). The new political belief was that the Netherlands had to be transformed into “an economy based on knowledge.” (Dekker, 2015: 9). Transforming
universities into “mass-educational moneymaking institutions” (Dekker, 2015: 9). In this
perspective, a new bill on Modernisation of University Governance (in Dutch: ‘Modernisering Universitaire Bestuursorganisatie;’ ‘MUB’) was accepted by the Dutch parliament in 1997.5 With the implementation of this bill, university powers were delegated to central, and mainly senior management positions; the position of deans (Amaral et al., 2002: 39; Dekker, 2015: 9). This process is defined as the shift towards ‘new managerialism’ (Goedegebuure et al., 1994). Overall, due to this process of professionalization, the position of dean has become increasingly burdensome for professors.
2.3 A Glass Cliff in Academia
This section describes the three main aspects of the glass cliff within Dutch academia: 1) the challenging senior academic management positions, 2) the challenging academic context, and 3) the challenge of being a female within Dutch universities.
2.3.1 The Challenging Position of Senior Academic Mangers
New managerialism changed the role of deans considerably, as universities largely became independent on their professional management leadership (Dekker, 2015: 9). Some scientists even claim that due to the implementation of the MUB, deans became more powerful than the academic top within Dutch universities nowadays, as to the prominent role they gained in university strategic decision-making (e.g. De Boer 2003: 256; Deem, 2003).
Various scholars criticize the transformation to professionalized academic
management (e.g. Amaral et al., 2002; Amaral, Meek & Larsen, 2003). The general concern is the troubled relationship between senior managers and their colleague professors, due to the further infringement of senior academic managers on the professional autonomy of professors (Prichard & Willmott, 1997; Deem, 2003; Huisman et al., 2006: 238). In addition, the
implementation of NPM practices, such as performance- and efficiency orientations
(Groeneveld, 2016), increased the management workloads (Teichler, Arimoto & Cummings, 2013). Deans face strategic, financial and human resource management challenges nowadays (Le Grand & Bartlett, 1993), while they receive limited management training before entering the (temporary) position (Sarros, Gmelch & Tanewski, 2006). According to various scholars, this contributes to role-conflict and ambiguity (e.g. Rizzo, House & Lirtzman, 1970;
Wolverton, Wolverton & Gmelch, 1999: 82), low job satisfaction, increased job-related stress and burnout (Gmelch & Miskun, 1993; Sarros et al., 2006). Deans are often confronted with the situation to play two or more roles in conflict with each other (Sarros et al., 2006). They are caught up in contradicting expectations of their colleagues, their faculty, including its departments, and those within the executive board (Baldridge, 1971; Wolverton et al., 1999: 80). In addition, they have to deal with the different role of teaching and research and at the same time managing other academics (Sarros et al., 2006). Another often-heard criticism is that there is limited time left for these professors to commit to the one thing they appreciate the most: research (Trowler, 1998; Fraser, 2005). This could lead to a feeling of
deprofessionalization (Willmott, 1995; Dominelli & Hoogvelt, 1996; Taylor & Kelly, 2006; Diefenbach, 2009), as they lose touch to day-to-day research and teaching activities
high, due to little time left for research, and thus a high possibility of four years ‘research gap’ (Shepherd, 2017).
The above-mentioned points out that senior academic management positions are challenging. Therefore, it is dissatisfying for professors, who pursue academic success, to combine research, education, and a senior academic management position (Sarros et al., 2006). At the same time, research evidence suggests that more professors have become
interested nowadays in switching their academic career into a full-time academic management one. Consciously leaving science behind (Shepherd, 2017). Shepherd (2017) explains their motivation by “a desire for a seat at the top table and to make a strategic contribution.” He
calls this the shift to a ‘new professional elite,’ who are attracted to academic management by authority and a higher salary. The remaining issue is that specialist knowledge of these deans could become obsolete, which makes it difficult to maintain professional credibility in the academic world. He argues: “management success often entails sacrificing your research career;” and questions if it is still worthwhile to continue to insist that academic managers are
academics (Shepherd, 2017).
2.3.2 The Challenging Academic Management Context
Besides the precariousness of the position of dean, the academic management context has become challenging in recent years. Since 2015, Dutch universities have constantly made Dutch newspapers headlines and became a hot topic on social media networks. Most often, it concerns negative news such as fraudulent research practices (Aan de Brugh, 2017),
management circumstances Dutch universities face (Van Dijk, 2015).
The above-mentioned indicates that the academic management context represents an ongoing challenge to senior academic managers. The (social) media attention enhances this challenge. It enlarges the visibility of academic managers and therefore increases performance pressures due to “a high risk of public blame for leadership failure” (Kanter, 1977: 970).
2.3.3 Being a Female in Academia as a Challenge
Some scholars claim that the changing structures and management processes especially affected female academics within universities (e.g. Goode & Bagilhole, 1998; Thomas & Davies, 2002: 373). They describe this process as a change to ‘masculine managerialism’ (e.g.
Thomas, 1996; Collinson & Collinson, 1997; Thomas & Davies, 2002: 376). The university is claimed to be a “men’s world” (Thomas & Davies, 2002: 390). The academic
male-domination is important to consider, as it contributes to extra challenges for women in senior academic management positions within Dutch universities. According to Bruckmüller and Branscombe (2010: 435), the glass cliff is “more likely present in a context of
male-dominated leadership”, as the glass cliff theory suggests that women in such context will only achieve leadership positions in times of crisis (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). This means that women are more likely than men to be appointed to senior academic management positions with a high risk of failure (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). In addition, challenging positions are more precarious depending on the availability of support (Ryan et al., 2016: 453). Being a senior academic manager in a time of crisis is recognized as being less risky when the senior manager could count on the support of relevant mentors and an organizational network (Ryan
et al., 2016: 453). Due to the lack of social resources (mentors and informal network) women face in male-dominated contexts (Sabharwal, 2013: 3), their position is considered to be more challenging as they are more likely to be confronted to organizational challenges alone (Ryan
et al., 2016). Further, research evidence suggests that women in these positions are unable to exert authority the same way as men (Sabharwal, 2013: 400-402; 406). Female managers in male-dominated contexts face the challenge that they receive less support from their
surrounding (mainly males), which according to Sabharwal (2013: 402) contributes to "interpersonal conflict and stress." Moreover, women are likely to be assessed less positive than men in leadership positions (Eagly & Karau, 2002). This is considered as role
Diekman, 2005; Sabharwal, 2013: 401).
Altogether, this means that women in senior academic management positions are more confronted to a glass cliff (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). The following chapter will elaborate further on the theory and its usage for this study.
Concluding the three sub-sections above, it is clear that studies have proven upon to this point that senior academic management and the academic management context in which professors could find themselves in today has become more complicated than ever. Senior academic management is not considered as an attractive career route for academics who aspire a successful academic career. Universities in the Netherlands are influenced by new managerialism and strategic NPM management-principles, involving finance-driven decisions, marketization strategies, and profit-orientation. As a consequence, the
internationalization, rising student expectations, and shifting funding’s involves more time-consuming management tasks for (untrained) academic managers. The risk of losing
academic credibility is high, due to limited time left for research. The challenge is especially high for female academics, by cause of the male-dominated context. Senior academic
3. Theoretical Framework
As clarified in the introductory part of this study, the representation of women in Dutch senior academic management positions remain extremely limited, which means that deans in Dutch universities are more likely to be men. However, some women have reached the position of dean within Dutch universities throughout the last decade. The theory on the glass cliff points out that women remain facing challenges within their leadership position (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). The question that arises, therefore, is: why did these women decide to access such precarious male-dominated positions?
This chapter elaborates on the theoretical foundations of this study, by discussing scientific literature that are useful for understanding the glass cliff metaphor on a micro level. The conceptual framework of this study will be supportive in illustrating propositions. The theoretical concept of the glass cliff shall be the central explaining concept, which offers a new approach to understanding gender differences in individual motivations. It provides the critical opportunity to illustrate assumptions on why female academics could have other motivations for accepting a senior academic management position than their male
counterparts. This chapter included two sections and organized as follows. The first section dealt with the origins of the glass cliff concept and also the understandings and definitions to identify what the glass cliff is. The second section focuses on the micro-foundations of the glass cliff theory by theorizing on gender differences in motivations for accepting a senior academic management position. This also includes the theoretical arguments and pertaining causal mechanisms derived from the analyzed theory.
3.1 From Glas Ceiling to Glass Cliff
metaphor symbolizes that women confronted a variety of invisible barriers preventing them from moving up to higher positions (Hymowitz & Schellardt, 1986). Most prominent barriers supported by various research evidence are gender based stereotypes, exclusion from informal networks, lack of mentors and role-models, differences in leadership styles and skills,
organizational culture, and limited support for work-life programs (e.g., Morrison, White & Van Velsor, 1987; Fagenson, 1990; Akande, 1993; Dolan, 2004; Riccucci, 2009, Sabharwal, 2013: 3). Additional metaphors, as the glass wall, the sticky floor, and the glass labyrinth, likewise refer to the barriers that undermine women’s career opportunities (e.g., Adler, 1993; Bullard & Wright 1993; Newman 1996; Davidson & Burke, 2000; Dreher, 2003; Bowling et al., 2006; Smith, Caputi & Crittenden, 2012; Smith & Monaghan, 2013). One of the leading theoretical explanations to why women do not advance to leadership positions was assigned to the think-manager-think-male framework (Schein, 1975), which describes the stereotyping bias that leadership is considered as masculine, a quality mostly associated with men (Brenner, Tomkiewicz & Schein 1989).
As research revealed that women made steady progress to positions of leadership (e.g.
McRae, 1995; Dreher, 2003; Goodman, Fields & Blum, 2003), various scholars have begun to argue that the before mentioned metaphors are still applicable nowadays (e.g. Ryan &
Haslam, 2005, 2007; Bowling et al., 2006; Adams, Gupta & Leeth, 2009; Hunt-Earle, 2012; Sabharwal, 2013; Carli & Eagly, 2015). They believe that the glass ceiling has already been shattered, that the road of upward mobility has become smoother, and that women nowadays are likely to be placed on a glass cliff (Ryan & Haslam, 2005). This means that despite the enhanced career opportunities for women to progress into higher-ranked leadership positions, the positions they occupy are likely to be less promising than the positions of their male counterparts (Ryan & Haslam, 2005).
Ryan and Haslam were the first to use the concept of the glass cliff in 2005. Their study was a direct response to an article of Judge published in The Times (2003: 21), in which she portrayed female managers as having a negative impact on company performance. They revealed methodological shortcomings in her study and therefore decided to provide a more sophisticated analysis to examine the link between women in leadership positions and company’s (financial) performance. Their results revealed that women were “preferentially placed in leadership roles with an increased risk of negative consequences” (Ryan & Haslam,
very different circumstances than men, particularly to areas associated with an increased risk of criticism and failure in times of crisis. They are, thus, likely to be placed on a glass cliff (Smith & Monaghan, 2013; Sabharwal, 2013). Subsequently, women are more likely than men to fail in leadership positions, as their jobs are more precarious (Ryan & Haslam, 2005). Ryan & Haslam’s (2005) definition of ‘times of crisis’ does not come in a single form, but includes all sorts of incidents and accidents, scandals, changes in organizational dynamics, and failing financial performance (Ryan & Haslam, 2005). In addition, ‘riskiness’ and
‘precariousness’ of a leadership position is related to its challenging context (Ryan & Haslam, 2007).
A few empirical studies have supported this logic, showing that this subtle form of gender discrimination limits women’s ability to become successful leaders (e.g., Smith & Monaghan, 2013; Sabharwal, 2013: 402; Caprino, 2015). Sabharwal (2013: 402) argues that “the glass cliff is in certain ways another sort of glass ceiling women face” when they reach
leadership positions. Taking into account that women already are unable to exert authority the same way as men; as they are more likely to receive greater criticism than men, receive less positive evaluations (Eagly et al., 1992), have less opportunity for promotions, are less likely to be part of substantial networks and support systems, feel less empowered (Sabharwal, 2013: 400-402; Ryan et al., 2016: 447), and face a double bind regarding their role as a leader and their social role they hold in society, also-called role incongruity issues (Sabharwal, 2013: 401). It now seems that added to these barriers and disadvantages, women are more likely to be placed on positions of high risk (Ryan & Haslam, 2005). This may “set them up for failure, pushing them over the edge.” (Sabharwal, 2013: 400). Smith & Monaghan (2013: 54) justify
the fact that women are more likely to be appointed to more risky positions by the reason that they could be held liable, “bear the brunt of the blame for failure,” and “act as scapegoats”
(Ryan et al., 2016: 452). Furthermore, this is perceived to be a symbolic act to appear promoting gender equality to outsiders (Kaplan & Minton, 1994; Ryan & Haslam, 2007; Smith & Monaghan, 2013: 54), without providing the required support (Sabharwal, 2013: 403). In any case, it is expected to negatively affect reputations, and career prospects of women, as research indicates that female leaders of poorly performing organizations are less likely to get a second chance; to be appointed to leadership positions in the future (e.g., Fama & Jensen, 1983; Ferris, Jagannathan, & Pritchard, 2003).
Considering the multiple dimensions to approach the concept of the glass cliff (Ryan
times of poor company performance (Vecchio, 2002; 2003). This perspective on advantage (Eagly & Carli, 2003) associated with the glass cliff, could provide the theoretical explanation of how, and why women progress into leadership positions (Smith & Monaghan, 2013: 53).
In line with this perspective, Boin and ‘t Hart (2003) substantiate to this view on a macro-level that crises situations allow organizations to question the status quo, and therefore open up for female leadership. In addition, time of crisis may lead to the need to break with stereotyping male leadership as a signal of change, especially when a company has a history of having all male leaders (Eagly & Carli, 2003; Bruckmüller, Ryan, Rink & Haslam, 2014). Moreover, research suggests that women have favorable leadership skills that make them more suitable to deal with poor organization performance, also referred as ‘think crisis-think female’ (Eagly, 2005; Eagly & Carli, 2007). Diverse studies have demonstrated that women seem to be good people managers, using a more communal leadership style; being empathetic, and supporting work relationships (behaving gentle, empathetic, nurturing, sensitive, helpful) (Eagly & Karau, 2002; Eagly & Carli, 2007), and are able to take the blame for organizational failure (Eagly & Carly, 2003; Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007; Brown, Diekman & Schneider, 2011). This contradicts the stereotype masculine leadership style, being self-confident, emotionally stable, ambitious, and aggressive; qualities associated with men (Brenner et al., 1989; Croson & Gneezy, 2009; Sabharwal, 2013: 3).
This perspective further contributes to the expectation on a micro-level that women are more likely than men to accept less desirable leadership positions “to get their foot in the
3.2 Motivation to Accept a Senior Academic Mangement Position
Research on the glass cliff has repeatedly focused on organizational and institutional factors of influence on the appointment of leaders, in other words, on the demand side (macro-level) about whom when to hire (Ryan et al., 2016: 451). This perspective suggests that women are more likely to be appointed than men to leadership positions under crisis circumstances, and therefore are more likely to face difficulties (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). To advance the understanding of why male and female professors accept senior academic management positions within Dutch universities, this study will provide an alternative perspective on the supply side (micro-level) of the glass cliff. This entails the perceptions held, decisions made, or behaviors enacted by women and men (Gino, Wilmuth & Wood Brooks, 2015). The focus of this study, therefore, lies on the examination of motivations of professors, as it includes perceptions, and directs choices and behavior (Wigfield, Battle, Keller & Eccles, 2002: 95).
Considering Eagly & Carli’s (2003) perspective on the glass cliff, which emanates the glass cliff as a leadership advantage for women. The glass cliff could be explained as
preferences and decisions of women who intentionally seek the challenge (Bruckmüller & Branscombe, 2010; Ryan et al., 2016: 451). Therefore, it is imperative to empirically examine why female professors accept senior academic management positions, and to understand if women indeed perceive these positions as their only career opportunity.
The following paragraph will address an integrative framework of presumed
individual motivation factors that have been indicated by economists and social psychologists in earlier studies as an essential contributor to the glass cliff concept (e.g. Eagly & Carli, 2003; Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007; Bruckmüller & Branscombe, 2010; Bruckmüller et al., 2014; Sabharwal, 2013; Smith & Monaghan; 2013).
Before describing these prominent micro-foundations of the glass cliff theory, it is essential to understand some fundamental mechanisms that influence individual motivation to accept precarious leadership positions and go beyond those explained by the glass cliff: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, (ir)rational cost-benefit calculations; including
3.2.1 Managerial Motivation: The Leadership Advantage
To understand why professors are accepting senior academic management positions, it is, first of all, essential to make a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations (Herzberg, 1966). The first refers to the content of the job itself; a person is motivated as he or she enjoys and values the type of work. The position, in that case, is accepted for no other reason than it is what someone wants to do (Reiss, 2012). It also includes deep-rooted desires such as: the desire to explore and learn or to accept a challenge (curiosity); the desire to contribute to the organization or to contribute to social justice (idealism); and the desire for social interactions (social contact) (Reis & Haverkamp, 1998). The latter lies outside the position, which means that the position offers other external incentives, such as rewards: money, social status
(acceptance), promotion, power, and so on (Groeneveld, 2009; Reiss, 2012). Various theories in sociology and economics argue that men and women value rewards that they can receive from their work differently (e.g. Heckman & Sedlacek 1985; Logan 1996; Bidwell &
Barbulescu 2013). Research evidence shows that seeking extrinsic rewards is more consistent with stereotypes of masculine behavior and does not fit stereotypical models of feminine behavior. This means that, in general, it is assumed that men have an increased preference for promotion, pay, and power (e.g. Furnham, 1984; Neil & Snizek, 1987; Moir & Jessel, 1989; Konrad, Ritchie, Lieb & Corrigall, 2000). In contrary, for women it is more likely to
emphasize intrinsic rewards, such as being helpful to others (Eagly 1987; Tang & Talpade, 1999; Groeneveld, 2009).
(Deaux & Farris, 1977; Lundeberg, Fox & Punccohar, 1994). However, alternative research has shown that gender differences in risk-taking behavior differ between people in
management and people in general (Croson & Gneezy, 2009). People who choose for senior positions within an organization are already regarded as more risk-taking (Croson & Gneezy, 2009: 15). In other words, research evidence suggests that there is a notable exception to the rule that women are more risk-averse than men if it concerns female managers (Master & Meier, 1988; Birley, 1989; Gysler, Kruse & Schubert, 2002; Croson & Gneezy, 2009: 15). This perspective will be taken into account in this study; women, who already made it to the highest academic rank of professor, are perceived to be similar in risk-taking as male
professors. Considering female professors as rational and strategic thinkers who try to
maximize their career potential and who are willing to take risks (Peters & Kabacoff, 2002), it is assumed that women are more likely triggered by extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivations to accept senior academic management positions within the university. One of the most widely accepted explanations for extrinsic motivation, offered by Vroom (1964), is the concept of expectancy. The important reason behind rational decision-making includes the value of the achievement (achievement goals) (Wigfield et al., 2002 :95). Accepting a senior academic management position could be of positive value to female professors because it facilitates potential additional career opportunities (Vroom, 1964; Maddux, Sherer & Rogers, 1982; Eccles et al., 1983; Juliusson, Karlsson, & Garling, 2005). The general expectation in this study, therefore, is that women are more likely than men to be extrinsically motivated to strategically choose for less desirable and precarious academic management positions, by the result of the few alternative opportunities they have. It is assumed that they are motivated by rational strategic cost-benefit calculations, including risk-perception and their perception on the outcome of their choice; in other words, the beneficiaries the position will give them.
under crisis circumstances (Ryan & Haslam, 2005; 2007). Considering the career mobility opportunities for men within their faculty, the expectation is that male professors are less likely than female professors motivated by rational and strategical reasons to accept senior academic management positions. They either refuse the offer, as it is perceived to be
unattractive or because they do not regard a strategic need to accept such precarious position. Alternatively, they could be irrationally motivated to accept a senior academic management position. Research suggests that people often make irrational decisions based on feelings of commitment to the organization (Juliusson et al., 2005). It could be assumed that male professors are more motivated than women to accept senior academic management positions by feelings of responsibility for the ‘sunk costs,’ such as time, money, and effort they already spent on a project (Juliusson et al., 2005). The expectation, therefore, in this study is that the motivation to accept a senior academic management position of male professors is influenced by “how far in the hole” they are (Juliusson et al., 2005). In other words, how connected they feel to the faculty and university. It is, therefore, more likely that men accept senior academic management positions motivated by feelings of responsibility.
With regard to the glass cliff concept, in general; it could be assumed that:
P1 Women are more likely than men to be extrinsically motivated, due to rational
cost-benefit calculations, including strategic risk-calculations and their
perception of the outcome of choice, to accept a senior academic management position consciously
The motivational-factors of influence that lie at the core of this general glass cliff proposition are outlined hereunder.
3.2.2 Stereotypes Beliefs about Gender and Leadership
Stereotypes and bias do not only affect how we perceive others as suitable leaders (macro-level), but also affect how we see ourselves (micro-level). As evidence revealed the ‘think crisis-think female’ stereotype (Eagly & Carli, 2003), it could be expected that from the supply side, women could perceive themselves as more suited leaders in times of
organizational crisis due to their ‘soft skills’ (Bruckmüller & Branscombe, 2010; Bruckmüller
(Eagly & Carli, 2003: 813, Paustian-Underdahl et al., 2014: 1131). Women are seen to “have
more skills to balance risk” and they “tend to cope with failure more pragmatically than men”
which makes them particularly suited to dealing with challenging situations (Lyness & Thompson, 2000; Ryan et al., 2007: 190; Eagly & Carli, 2007; Hewlett, Peraino, Sherbin & Sumberg, 2010). In other words, it is suggested that their feminine leadership style by nature is more suitable to be more effective leaders in times of crisis than the masculine one of men (Ryan et al., 2016: 452). It could, therefore, be assumed that:
P2 Women are more likely motivated than men by the perceived fit of the
(stereotypically gender) leadership characteristics to a position of risk to accept a senior academic management position
3.2.3 Network and Mentors
Networks and mentors are important for promotion opportunities, as it often consists of individuals who are in powerful positions within organizations (Hoobler et al., 2011: 151). In male-dominated organizations, mainly men hold these powerful positions, also called ‘old-boy network’ (Hoobler et al., 2011: 151). Women, most often, have limited access or are denied access to these informal ‘friendship-networks’ (Linehan, 2001). Since they are
excluded, they do not have the same career opportunities, as they do not have the same ability to be noticed by people who may influence their career advancement (Montz & Wanat, 2008), and have fewer opportunities to be ‘sponsored’ (Kanter, 1977: 249). It could thus be expected that, due to the feeling of exclusion of informal male networks and the lack of female
mentors, women are more likely to accept the challenge as a career opportunity (Newman, 1994; Kerr, Miller & Reid, 2003; Ryan & Haslam, 2005). It could, therefore, be assumed that:
P3 Women are more likely motivated than men by feelings of exclusion from
informal networks and mentors than men to accept a senior academic management position
Closely linked to previous concept of network and mentors, accepting a senior academic management position could put women in the position to become more visible within the university. Being noticed by others, within and outside the university, could enable them to build on their network, as it increases the opportunities of ‘being sponsored.’ This is
2017). Research suggests that women, more than men, need to take strategic decisions that can contribute to their visibility within organizations in order to achieve career success (Catalyst, 2017). Ryan et al. (2016: 451) made this clear with an argument of Patricia Peters, head of Corporate Governance at the British Institute of Directors, who said: “I know women
who do not want to sit on a board that isn’t a challenge, as they might not be noticed.” It could, therefore, be assumed that:
P4 Women are more likely motivated than men by visibility within the
organization to accept a senior academic management position
Empowerment is closely linked to previous concept of internal visibility. In this case,
however, it does not directly relate to academic status/reputation and being known by the right people to increase ‘sponsoring’ opportunities. It relates to the desire of female professors to advance influence within their position. Research indicates that women generally are
perceived to be less likely empowered in male-dominated positions (Kelly & Newman 2001; Naff 2001), as they are likely to receive less support or even experience resistance from their colleagues, who are mainly males “who do not like to take orders from women” (Eagly &
Carli, 2007; Sabharwal, 2013: 405-406). Therefore, female managers have less authority within a similar position as men, as they are more likely to be criticized, evaluated less favorably, and perceived to lack managerial skills given the double bind they face in their position: “not being feminine enough or being too aggressive and bossy” (Sabharwal, 2013:
It could, therefore, be assumed that:
P5 Women are more likely motivated than men by feelings of individual
empowerment at work to accept a senior academic management position
3.2.6 Active Representation
Adding to the concept of (individual) empowerment, Smith and Monaghan (2013: 55) describe in their study that women in upper-level positions are likely motivated to actively seek to hire more women into lower level positions. The enhancement of equality for and empowerment of other women within the organization could, therefore, also be noted as motivation for women to accept a challenging leadership position. Such position enables them to become included in important selection- and decision-making processes, which facilitates the opportunity to enhance the representation of other women within the organization. It could, therefore, be assumed that:
P6 Women are more likely motivated than men by the ambition to actively advocate
for equal representation within the organization to accept a senior academic management position
3.2.7 Organizational Equity
Organizationel equity could refer to fairness in the treatment of employees, in terms of equal workload and rewards (such as promotion), or unfair treatment in terms of sexism and discrimination (Sabharwal, 2013: 406-407). Research on the perception of organizational equity shows that women in male-dominated occupations are more likely to experience inequities at their work, such as a lack of opportunities for promotion, unfair in-group favoritism, and sexism (#Metoo) (e.g., Guy & Newman, 2004; Sabharwal, 2013: 406-407). This concept is closely linked to the concept of availability. Once women in male-dominated surroundings find out that they have rather relatively few other opportunities to reach the top, it is expected that precarious leadership positions become more attractive (Ryan et al., 2016: 451). It could, therefore, be assumed that:
P7 Women are more likely motivated than men by inequitable treatment at work
4. Research Methodology
In this chapter, the research methodology that is used for this study is discussed and justified. The choice of design entails certain methodological trade-offs to strengthen the validityand reliabilityof the data collected. As such, this chapter is divided into four sections.
In the first section, the research design adopted is described, which illustrates the unit of observation, as well as the case selection process. Second, the research methods used to collect data are explained. Followed by the third section that includes a strategy on how the collected data is analyzed. Finally, the validity and reliability of this study are addressed.
4.1 Research Design
The design of this study consisted of a comparative research design (Bryman, 2012: 72). It entailed a comparison of two contrasting cases on the individual level: the comparison between male and female senior academic managers within Dutch universities. This design was appropriate, as the intention of this study was to search for variance in underlying social patterns to uncover gender differences between these social entities (Mills, Van de Bunt & De Bruijn, 2006). It aimed at examining differences in gender concerning the “contemporary real-life phenomenon” of the glass cliff on a micro-level “set within the real-world context” of
senior academic management within Dutch universities (Yin, 2009: 18). The typology of this research involved a comparative case study design (Bryman, 2012: 72). It embodied the logic of cross-case comparisons and implied a study of a small N-comparative design to understand the social phenomena better (Bryman, 2012: 72). As the N in this research was larger than one, this study is referred to as a multiple-case study design (Bryman, 2012: 74). The
advantage of such design was to provide a tougher test of the theoretical concepts (De Vaus, 2001, Bryman 2012: 74). Moreover, this explanatory research project was primarily
deductive, theory guided, in nature, as the causal mechanisms that the literature suggested were examined (Babbie, 2013: 21-23). This study aimed at opening a ‘black box’ regarding the gender differences in individual motivations to accept a senior academic management position (Toshkov, 2016: 260-265). Due to limited time and the scope of this study, it was impossible to account for all the factors that might have influenced differences in gender. Rather, various factors refined from the literature on the glass cliff were examined. The
discussion section of this thesis in chapter six will further discuss the limitations of this study. The comparative research design was implemented as a qualitative study, as a