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DBA student wins international award for doctoral thesis

Professor Linda du Plessis wins a prize in the 2022 Emerald and Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association 'Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards'

Picture of Professor Linda du Plessis
Linda won the award for her outstanding doctoral thesis

DBA alum and Vice-Chancellor of North West University in South Africa, Professor Linda du Plessis, has been recognised for her exceptional doctoral thesis "Sense-making of Legitimacy During Institutional Radical Change".

She won the 2022 Emerald Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research, as part of the Emerald and Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association Awards.

Scholarly publishers Emerald set up the award to acknowledge and support research that addresses the sustainable development goals of the UN, in the hope of finding solutions to global issues such as poverty, inequality, and climate change.

These awards consider candidates from across the world who submitted their thesis in the past three years. Linda received her DBA doctorate in 2020, for which Bath awarded her the Richard and Shirley Mawditt Prize for outstanding performance on the DBA.

Linda said, “The exploration focuses on how university leaders responded to government policies that triggered unplanned transformational change at South African public universities and how senior leaders are sensitised about the different sources and issues impacting legitimacy through a period of prolonged instability."

“Because of the complexity of the higher-education environment and the involvement of multiple resources and relationships with internal and external stakeholders, a single theory cannot cover all the aspects affected by unplanned dramatic change.”

“It is such an honour receiving these awards. One often doubts their own abilities, but this topic was something close to my heart and was such an enriching experience. I would like to thank my study leader, Prof Hong Bui for tremendous support and contributions towards this".

Rajani Naidoo, Co-Director of Bath's International Centre for Higher Education Management said, "Linda’s study exemplifies the focus of the DBA(HEM) programme in bringing together rigorous scholarship with advanced leadership practice. Her research on how leaders make sense of externally driven pressures for change, how they establish legitimacy and build trust and how they engage with social media has important implications for university leaders worldwide."