What will it mean to be the Head of Department at a university in the future? History tells us that the answer is closely linked to the contemporary perception of science in society. In the second part of the 20th century, the Head of Department was a “primus inter pares” serving a collective of autonomous faculty members. At the turn of the millennium, the Head of Department resembled an overseer managing a research factory. In these years, the relationship between science and society is yet again changing as we see a growing demand for societal impact of research. This expectation of impact requires a transformation of the university’s organization, strategy and management. We appoint the Head of Department as the Key Transformational Leader of this transformation and elaborate on the practical implications of this new management role.
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