Resilient Leadership: A Study Connecting Saudi Vision 2030 and the Higher Education Sector

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Al Shamlan, Abdulrahman Eidhah (2023) Resilient Leadership: A Study Connecting Saudi Vision 2030 and the Higher Education Sector. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Driven by Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is currently undergoing a significant transformation that is characterised by extensive economic and educational reforms. As a part of this transformation, the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia aims to improve the quality of higher education, align it with the needs of the labour market and enhance its competitiveness with that of other developed countries. Throughout these efforts to achieve strategic national visions, new and unanticipated challenges may emerge. Resilient leadership provides organisations and institutions with the ability to effectively navigate the uncertainty that accompanies change. However, there is a lack of research on resilient leadership in Saudi Arabia’s higher education sector. To address this research gap, this study aimed to explore the presence of resilient leadership among leaders in the Saudi higher education sector to achieve transformative strategic visions, specifically, Vision 2030. The study uses a qualitative, case study approach in the interpretive paradigm. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 leaders, who held the titles of deans and/or heads of departments at three Saudi public universities. The study uses NVivo for thematic analysis, which involves building themes and methods to analyse data and to explore participants’ perspectives. The findings of the study highlight the importance of resilient leadership in enabling university leaders to adapt to the changes that are caused by Vision 2030. To support Vision 2030, universities are aligning their courses and leadership practices with Vision 2030. Participants in the study employ various coping mechanisms to manage the stress that is caused by changes in the academic system. The study emphasises the importance of positive mindset practices and adaptive stress coping strategies for leaders who are facing change and pressures. In addition, sustainable social bonds, which create a safe and supportive environment in which team members can freely express their thoughts and ideas, are identified as crucial in higher education. Further, self-leadership is recognised as essential in Saudi universities because it enables leaders to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours, set goals, plan effectively and solve problems. Resilient leadership emerges as vital for higher education in Saudi Arabia, enabling leaders to navigate the challenges of change and, ultimately, achieve Vision 2030. The scan of studies in Saudi Arabia shows that this study is possibly the first to introduce the concept of resilient leadership in the context of Saudi higher education. Hence, the findings hold significant value for policymakers and leaders in Saudi Arabia’s higher education sector. By understanding the role of resilient leadership in achieving transformative strategic visions, they can better prepare the sector for the challenges and opportunities of the contemporary era. Policymakers are encouraged to modify existing policies to prioritise resilience training to equip leaders in the sector with the necessary skills to effectively contribute to the realisation of Vision 2030.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3507 Strategy, management and organisational behaviour
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3903 Education systems
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords leadership; resilient leadership; Saudi higher education; Saudi Vision 2030
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