A dialectical exploration of ethical leadership and counterproductive work behaviour in the Saudi higher education sector: Gendered constraints and reactions

Almarshd, Manal (2021) A dialectical exploration of ethical leadership and counterproductive work behaviour in the Saudi higher education sector: Gendered constraints and reactions. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis critically explores the dialectics of ethical leadership and counterproductive work behaviour. It investigates the extent to which presumed ‘ethical’ leadership conduct can simultaneously be perceived as counterproductive within Saudi higher education institutions (HEIs). The distinctive nature of this gender segregated organisational context offers the researcher an effective means of revealing and exploring the characteristics that inform ethical complexities, as well as deeply engrained patterns of gendered leadership behaviour. Specifically, this thesis critically investigates female leadership practices, in the context of a university that claims to create an ethical and empowered environment for women. It details and contrasts the views of senior managers and those in executive level roles with the perceptions and reactions to their leadership from front line female academics. While ethical leadership studies and prescriptive literature highlight a role for ethical concern with regard to effective leadership, mainstream approaches frequently fail to acknowledge the impact of gendered, institutional or cultural power as co-constructors of ‘ethical’ leadership behaviour and generators of concern and counterproductive consequences for subordinates. In this thesis, the dialectical approach is employed to investigate and acknowledge the significant power leaders hold in the workplace, while simultaneously appreciating countervailing influences and the construction of power relations. The analysis here explores multiple, complex and contradictory aspects, wherein Saudi female leaders’ perceptions of ethical leadership are that they seek to address and act on equality concerns and empowerment issues affecting women, but which are perceived as compromised and often oppressive and counterproductive by female faculty members who are part of the same marginalised social group. Utilising data collected from 25 Saudi females, comprising both leaders and faculty members, and engaging in a process of participant observation over five faculty meetings, the findings highlight three key themes in dialectical thinking with regard to ethical and counterproductive leadership, revealing multiple individualistic, organisational and sociocultural aspects. Despite women’s empowerment being articulated as the overt mantra, many forms of inequality remain covert and present. These impact negatively on the Saudi female faculty members, with negative consequences for their career advancement and work experience. Reflecting on these results, this thesis directs attention towards some very basic, though often neglected, elements of gender and power in the co-construction of ‘masculine ethics’ in female leadership contexts and practices. It also illuminates perspectives encompassing the necessary expansion of social and relational ethics to generate greater opportunities for social justice and cohesion in those workplaces occupied by Saudi women.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School
Supervisor's Name: Beirne, Prof. Martin and Wilson, Prof. Fiona
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82601
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2021 11:53
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2022 09:09
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82601
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82601

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