Leadership Education Needs for Not-for-Profit Executives in Western Melbourne to Meet the Challenges of Effective Sector Development

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Dempsey, Naomi (2015) Leadership Education Needs for Not-for-Profit Executives in Western Melbourne to Meet the Challenges of Effective Sector Development. Coursework Master thesis, Victoria University.


This qualitative research study sought to explore and understand the leadership education needs for Not-for-Profit (NFP) executives in Western Melbourne, as their needs relate to meeting the challenges of effective sector development. The study was motivated by two factors. The first factor was that existing research has shown that NFPs do not invest in leadership/management development education as a priority of a typical NFP business strategy. The second factor was that within this sector in the Western Melbourne region, NFP organisations are further impacted by rapid growth and change at the current time. These factors highlighted the potential that leaders in the sector may not be prepared to respond to the challenges of effective sector development with sufficient leadership capability and skills. This research study explored the perspectives of NFP executives from a cross-section of industries within the Western Melbourne NFP sector, including social services, culture and recreation, education, environment and business/professional associations. Seven semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with the NFP executive research participants who gave insights into their perspectives on their own individual needs for leadership education and development, as well as their perspectives on the needs of executive leaders more broadly in the NFP sector and the region. Two angles of leadership education needs were explored with the participants: competency requirements; and the preferred attributes of learning/educational programs that best meet their needs. The sector challenges that are driving the need for the development of new/enhanced leadership capability and skills were also explored, in relation to the Western Melbourne region. The sector’s current response to enhance leadership capability and skills, including the barriers and opportunities to access leadership education, were also investigated. This research study has made three key contributions to existing research on leadership education needs for the NFP sector. Findings indicate that the priorities for leadership education need to be focussed on the competency areas of financial management and fundraising, strategic business planning and management, and people management. It was also found that leadership education needs extend beyond competency areas and include the structure and modes of delivery for education and development programs to best meet the needs of the sector and deliver outcomes, presenting challenging issues for local educational providers to better meet the needs. Additionally, this research study has revealed the constraints for NFP executive leaders to access funding and support for leadership education and highlighted the limited opportunities that exist to secure funding from internal and external sources.

Additional Information

Master of Education

Item type Thesis (Coursework Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/29707
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Education
Keywords Not-for-Profit sector; NFP sector; executive leaders; leadership capabilities; leadership education; professional development; Western Melbourne; Melbourne’s West
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