Leading Across Boundaries: Collaborative Leadership and the Institutional Repository in Research Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges

Research output: Book/Report/EssayCommissioned report


Libraries often engage in services that require collaboration across stakeholder boundaries to be successful. Institutional repositories (IRs) are a good example of such a service. IRs are an infrastructure to preserve intellectual assets within a university or college, and to provide an open access showcase for that institution’s research, teaching, and creative excellence. They involve multiple stakeholders (librarians, IT experts, administrators, faculty, and students) and are typically operated by academic libraries. They have existed since the early 2000s. Collaborative leadership has been studied in areas such as health care and business, but it has received little attention in studies of library leadership and management. Collaborative leadership has been shown to be an effective leadership style for an increasingly networked world; it is an interactive process in which people set aside self-interests, share power, work across boundaries, and discuss issues openly and supportively. Collaborative leadership moves organizations beyond mere cooperation towards a state of interdependence; it empowers all members of a team to help each other to achieve broader goals, find personal satisfaction in their work, and sustain productive relationships over time. A better understanding of collaborative leadership can inform both IR development and future complex multi-stakeholder campus services. Two methodologies – content analysis of IR web pages and surveys of library directors and IR developers – were employed to determine if IRs revealed evidence of collaborative leadership. The study populations were those members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Oberlin Group of liberal arts colleges that operated IR services by July 2014 (146 institutions overall). The research examined if IR format, size, age, nomenclature, or technology platform varied between ARL and Oberlin Group members. It asked if there is any difference in the perception of collaborative leadership traits, perceived IR success, or collaborative involvement with stakeholder communities between ARL and Oberlin Group members or between library directors and IR developers. The study found evidence of all six collaborative leadership traits being examined: assessing the environment for collaboration, creating clarity, building trust, sharing power, developing people, and self-reflection.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jun 19 2017


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