The Status of Leadership and Governance in the Ethiopian Public Higher Education Institutions: Structural Set-up in Focus


  • Wossenu Yimam Institute of Educational Research, Addis Ababa University
  • Daniel Desta Institute of Educational Research, Addis Ababa University
  • Kenenissa Dabi College of Education and Behavioral Studies, Addis Ababa University


Governance, Higher education, Leadership, Performance, Structural set-up


Leadership and governance functions are of major importance in interpreting the diverse changes, outlining potential scenarios, developing organizational responses and bringing about the anticipated change. The public higher education institutions/HEIs in Ethiopia have introduced a series of reform programs in order to meet the needs of their stakeholders. Nevertheless, such reform programs could not bring about fundamental changes in the operation as well as achievement of the major institutional objectives. This study attempted to address such core issues as influence of the structural set-up of public HEIs on the realization of their major functions, the presence of participatory and empowering structural set-up in the HEIs as well as structure-related challenges of HEIs. To this effect, a descriptive survey design coupled with qualitative data collection and analysis procedures was employed so as to get the views and perceptions of the study participants regarding the core issues. The study was carried out in eight public HEIs (Addis Ababa, Ambo, Bahir Dar, Haromaya, Hawassa, Jimma, Mekele, and Wollo Universities). The participants of the study included ten university officials, 1368 academic and administrative staff, and 40 students’ representatives. All in all, 1418 participants have expressed their views through questionnaires, interviews and FGDs. The quantitative data were analyzed using mean, standard deviation, one-way ANOVA, and Tukey multiple comparison tests. On the other hand, the qualitative data were analyzed qualitatively after the recorded data were properly transcribed and thematically categorized. The results of this study unveiled that the existing structural set-up of the public HEIs was inappropriate and does not enhance the accomplishment of the institutions’ major functions. Besides, the working relationships that exist between and among incumbents at the various levels of the sample HEIs were found to be hardly productive. Apart from these, the incidence of leadership instability, absence of transparent and participatory culture, undue interference from the regulatory bodies, etc. were found to be the most frequently mentioned challenges in the HEIs. It was thus concluded that the existing structural set-up could not allow the public HEIs to bring about effectiveness and efficiency in their performance. Recommendations that help to curb the challenges and improve leadership and governance practices in the HEIs are forwarded.