An Inquiry about Perception of Autonomous Academe and Accountable Leadership: A Case of Bangladesh

The traits of searching the truth, producing knowledge and its dissemination have the inextricable relationship with Universities. Autonomy and academic freedom corresponding to accountability are the core value concepts of university governance. The literature underpins that the relationships between these traits and values are debatable concerns amongst the academics and constituencies. Academic leaders are the pivots to influence the university governance progressively. This paper aims at presenting the aspect of perception of accountability of academic leadership as one of these core values in the context of university governance in Bangladesh. Literature underpins that the debate about meanings of autonomy, academic freedom, and accountability throughout the globe varied and context specific.

There has been a little literature about Bangladesh university governance relating to these core values. Having longstanding acquaintance in the field the researcher gains lived experience from the informants by the empirical study about the perception of accountability along with the other two value concepts of university governance – autonomy and academic freedom. To understand the complexities of perception and to acquire a sense of wholeness of the situation, multi-site case study approach was employed. The study was done with a strong sample size of seventy-four informants in three case public universities. The cases were different types of their governance structures – a general university, an engineering, and an open university. The qualitative multiple case study engages in-depth interviewing method of the members to belong to academics, administrators, civil society and policymakers to capture a wider range of views on perception. Open-ended semi-structured questionnaires have been used to comprehend the perception of autonomous accountability of the academics that impacts university governance in the context of Bangladesh.
The paper has interpreted the voices of the informants and distinguished style of academic leadership existed in the university settings against the changing higher education demography. The study finds comparative contextual dissimilarity in the perspectives of accountability of academic leadership towards university governance in three cases. Since accountability grows competitiveness and competence, the paper has focused on how academic leaders use their premises committing compromised standard of academic environment unaccountably. The study concludes that unaccountable academic leadership may cause for losing autonomous power resulted in collapsing academic excellence, while accountable leadership culturally bound with tradition promotes autonomous power.