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Book Review

Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should Be Led by Top Scholars

This book argues that worldclass scholars, not administrators, make the best leaders of research universities. Amanda Goodall cuts through the rhetoric and confusion swirling around this contentious issue—such as the assertion that academics simply don’t have the managerial expertise needed to head the world’s leading schools. She argues convincingly that experts need leaders who are experts like themselves.

Goodall draws from the latest data on the world’s premier research universities along with in-depth interviews with top university leaders, including University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann; Derek Bok and Lawrence Summers, former presidents of Harvard University; and many others.

Goodall explains why the most effective leaders are those who have deep expertise in what their organizations actually do. Her findings carry broad implications for the management of higher education, and she demonstrates that the same fundamental principle holds true for other important business sectors as well.