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Dr Justine Mercer



Associate Professor


Centre for Education Studies
University of Warwick
Tel: 02476 1 51197

Research Interests

  • Leadership and management in Higher Education
  • Leadership and gender in Higher Education
  • Cross-cultural understandings of educational leadership
  • The dynamics of insider research
  • The industrial relations of educational institutions
  • Human resource management (HR) in education
My own doctoral thesis investigated the power dynamics inherent in faculty appraisal, using a grounded theory approach. Since then, I have conducted research into the impact of CPD in schools; English and Russian understandings of educational leadership, and the role of the manager-academic in Higher Education.


I joined the University of Warwick in January 2010, and lead the MA in Educational Leadership (Teach First). Prior to this, I worked for five years at the University of Leicester in the School of Education, and for 15 years before that, I worked as a British Council project manager, Ministry of Education advisor, and Higher Education lecturer in Thailand, Turkey, China, Hungary, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Not surprisingly, I am particularly interested in cross-cultural understandings of educational leadership, and was fortunate enough to lead two partnerships with Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia under the auspices of the British Degrees in Russia (BRIDGE) programme.

I am an elected Council member of the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS). This is the foremost professional association for Educational Leadership in the UK and I would urge anyone with an interest in Educational Leadership to join - membership is free for the first year and gives access to two excellent journals, namely, Educational Leadership and Management (EMAL) and Management in Education.

My publications to date include articles on Higher Education leadership, cross-cultural collaboration, and the dynamics of insider-research. In 2010, I co-authored a Routledge book on Human Resource Management in Education and this remains the subject about which I am most passionate. Currently, I am writing up joint research into industrial relations in both the HE sector and Academy schools.

I have supervised seven doctoral students to completion (six EdDs and one PhD). Five of them conducted their research overseas (in Barbados, Kenya, Malaysia and Oman). I have also worked with school business managers and middle leaders in the independent sector.

I am currently the External Examiner for the EdDs run by the University of Birmingham and the British University in Dubai. Prior to these appointments, I was the External Examiner for the EdD run by the University of Lincoln, and for the MSc Management and Leadership in Education run by the University of Strathclyde.

I believe a teacher's primary role is to ask challenging questions, rather than provide comprehensive answers, and I am particularly interested in helping learners deepen their understanding of what constitutes rigorous research. I also appreciate how hard it can be to juggle part-time study with other professional and personal commitments, having myself completed two MAs and a doctorate whilst holding down a demanding full-time job and raising three children.

Research Projects

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Post Graduate Supervision

  • 'The role of middle leaders in quality assurance in Saudi Arabian higher education' Date of Completion:2015
  • 'The characteristics of excellent and world-class universities, and how such institutions can be created and sustained' Date of Completion:2017
  • 'Life Histories of Academics who become Heads of Department: Socialisation, Identity and Career Trajectory' Date of Completion:2009
  • 'The relationship between trust, community engagement, school leadership and educational outcomes' Date of Completion:2014
  • 'Educational Leadership and Management in an Intensive English Programme in KSA' Date of Completion:2016
  • 'Leading from the Middle: an analysis of the role and impact of acdemic middle leaders in the Kenyan secondary school' Date of Completion:2008
  • 'Managing Quality in Higher Education: a stakeholder perspective' Date of Completion:2008
  • 'Case Study Exploring the Professional Identities of Middle Managers within a Faculty of Health and Social Care, and their Perceptions of their Managerial and Leadership Responsibilities' Date of Completion:2012
  • 'An Evaluation Study of an Undergraduate Business Programme in Malaysia' Date of Completion:2009
  • 'Mapping the Values of Lecturers and Middle-Leaders Regarding Effective Educational Practice: a case study across three faculties from Omani tertiary education' Date of Completion:2009
  • 'The Influence of Societal Culture on the Implementation of Teacher Appraisal in the AB School in Barbados' Date of Completion:2008

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