Challenges of the Professionalization of Department Heads in Higher Education: A Qualitative Study in Turkey
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Professionalization of department heads is a relatively recent concept of interest in the higher education administration domain and as such few studies in the extant literature address the training needs of department heads and how they become more professionalized in their work. The aim of this study is to address this gap in the literature by examining the perceptions of department heads working in public and private universities in Turkey regarding the level of professionalization in their roles as leaders of departments. The authors of this study use a qualitative approach to interview fourteen participants from four universities in Istanbul. Thematic analysis is used to determine the main and sub-themes based on the statements of the participants. The findings of this study suggest that being a department head is not a professionalized field in Turkey and the department heads generally express negative opinions about the roles because of a variety of problems that occur as a consequence of some problems related to the position. In the light of the findings, there may be a need to start a discussion as to how department heads are chosen and trained in both public and private universities in Turkey.