Supervisory styles: a contingency framework

Boehe, D. (2014)

Studies in Higher Education


While the contingent nature of doctoral supervision has been acknowledged, the literature on supervisory styles has yet to deliver a theory-based contingency framework. A contingency framework can assist supervisors and research students in identifying appropriate supervisory styles under varying circumstances. 

The conceptual study reported here develops a contingency framework of supervisory styles and thus identifies functional relationships between organisational, relationship and research task variables on the one hand, and the supervision process and product dimensions on the other. 

Drawing on the organisational behaviour stream of contingency theory and operating under the positivist paradigm, the framework assumes that no single supervisory style is effective in all situations. The paper contributes to the supervision and higher education literature by deriving theoretical propositions from the contingency framework and by providing practical guidelines for supervisors and research students.

Cite this paper

Boehe, D. (2014)

Supervisory styles: a contingency framework.

Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2014.927853.

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