In today’s world, competition is very intensive among existing higher institutions. They strive hard to survive with other competitors regionally and globally. Thus, they have to find new ways to do that. In addition, the educational service sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. Thus, in this research, the focus will be on the higher education institutions (HEI) and evaluating its service quality using SERVPERF scale. The majority of the studies , which was applied in higher education institutions, measured the service quality from perspective of academic and administration staff, while little attention have focused on student’s point of view towards service quality. HEI should observe students’ needs, Problems, desires, and seek for their satisfaction as their major concern. Carr and Littman (1997) indicate that the majority of students who are not satisfied may affect the image of higher education institution negatively. Carr and Littman, 1997 also claim that only one of ten students who is not satisfied would affect adversely and influence the positive attitude of the other nine students. Thus, only those HEI, focusing mainly on the Student’s needs, seeking for their satisfaction, and searching for new and Innovative ways to attract, retain and foster stronger relationships with them, would leads to a good long-term reputation and improved profitability.

There are different popular scales used to measure service quality to meet students’ needs, desires, and expectations, and give an indicator for their satisfaction about the service quality produced to them. These scales are Gronroos model (Gronroos, 1984), SERVQUAL (Service Quality) (Parasuraman et al., 1988), SERVPERF (Service Performance) (Cronin and Taylor, 1994), HedPERF (higher education performance) (Firdaus, 2006b), and merged SERVPERF–HedPERF scale (Firdaus, 2006b). Service quality, in this research, will be measured using the SERVPERF Scale with its five dimensions (reliability, responsiveness, tangibility, assurance and empathy) (Firdaus, 2006b). Many studies found that the SERVPERF scale outperforms against other scales in higher education. This is because of applicability, dimensionality and the high of validity of the scale (Brady et al., 2002; Zhou, 2004; Jain and Gupta, 2004). Subsequently, it would not be overstated to say that the SERVPERF scale is an effective approach to measure service quality in HEI.

Leadership style is an important determinant to achieve organizational goals for HEI because, if used properly, it can boost positive relationship between the HEI and the students and consequently, improve service quality (Kozak and Uca, 2008). One key element of success for academic and administrative staff leaders in HEI is to motivate their employees to reach their maximum potential to adopt change, and to make innovative decisions towards enhancing the service quality produced to students. Effective academic and administrative staff leaders provide guidance to employees to take ownership of tasks, to think efficiently, to solve student problems, and to make decisions that can improve educational service quality (Bennett, 2009). Many literature reviews of leadership style linked to different organizational variables in organizations. For instance, leadership style has been related to organizational commitment (e.g., Clark et al., 2009; Avolio et al., 2004), organizational learning (e.g., Castiglione, 2006), job satisfaction (Wu, 2009), and organizational culture (e.g., Bass and Avolio, 1994). Nevertheless, there has been limited research on the positive effect of leadership style on service quality at large in the context of HEI. Service quality plays an important role in the best practices in HEI; and as such, leadership style is the apparent behavior of leaders to influence members of staff and employees to do what has been planned (Bogler, 2001).

Clarifying the concept of leadership has been a difficult job because of the complexity of the leadership itself. Subsequently, there are various definitions of leadership from the point of view of many researchers. For example, Cole (1996) defines leadership as process in which one person influences others to achieve the task of the group. The Hogg (2001) indicate, “Leaders exist because of followers, and followers exist because of leaders” (p. 185). Researchers of leadership classified leadership theories to two theories (transactional and transformational) (Goleman, 2000; Houghton and Yoho, 2005). Transactional leadership works on a contract in between the leader and the follower about goals and objectives (Bass and Avolio, 2000), and consists of contingent rewards and management by exception (active and passive), whereas transformational leadership consists of intellectual stimulation, idealized influence, individualized consideration and inspirational motivation (Bass and Avolio, 2000). Thus, leaders who want to achieve best results should not depend on a single leadership style (Goleman, 2000), However, there has been limited researches that has directly looked at the positive relationship between both leadership styles and service quality in HEI. Thus, this study will consider the previous two styles as input factors for the service quality in HEI.

One of the factors that has been discussing is the role of the leader as a leading force behind innovative work behavior (IWE), because researching how academic and administrative leaders can boost innovative behavior of their staff members and employees can holds the promise of gaining competitive advantage in order to enhance service quality in HEI. In particular, because in the state of an HEI employees are highly dependent on their leaders for support and the like to explore, generate, champion and implement their new ideas (Kanter, 1988). Many Researches prove this theory that leadership styles have a positive effect on IWB of the staff members and employees in HEI (e.g. De Jong and Den Hartog, 2010; Scott and Bruce, 1998).

Moreover, innovative behaviors of employees have a positive effect on service quality in HEI, this study suggest that staff members and employees have to engage in IWB in order for organizations to benefit from their innovations (e.g. De Jong and Den Hartog, 2010; Scott and Bruce, 1998). Therefore, from the one side, various scholars have tried to find out which factors stimulate IWB, and how IWB can influence service quality in HEI from the other side. In general, IWB is defined as a perceived four-staged concept including idea exploration, new idea generation, championing, and application (Kleysen and Street, 2001; De Jong, 2007). Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to explore how the appropriate leadership style can improve service quality in HEI through innovative work behavior.