The repair-workshop theory: Supervising Anatomical Research
Anatomical research remains constrained in Africa and the development of relevant anatomical leadership strategies is crucial to unlocking the anatomical research potential. The importation of leadership strategies from developed countries may not be relevant in Africa because of peculiar social, political, funding, academic and research contexts. Ambiguous leadership, characterised by unclear goals, is poorly understood and is said to be irrational and driven by pure chance. The current paper describes how ambiguous leadership unfolded within the supervision of BSc Intercalated Anatomy research projects at the University of Zimbabwe, which had an incredibly high degree of unclear goals, using grounded theory research methodology. The analysis of the results produced a rational and normative ambiguous leadership theory model called the ‘Repair-Workshop-Theory’, which had two types of goals: the initially unclear Year-Goals and the always clear Day-to-Day-Goals. The clarity of the Year-Goals progressed from being vague initially to being very clear at the end of the research projects, as the Year-Goals were being ‘discovered’, while Day-to-Day-Goals were permanently clear and were the basis of day-to-day rational decisions. The normative principle of ‘discovering’ Year-Goals allows goals to emerge from the interests of the students, staff and contextual constraints and has significant implications for managing unclear research goals in African anatomy departments.
Key words: anatomy, Africa, ambiguous leadership, unclear goals, garbage can theory