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The paradox of collaboration: a moral continuum

The paradox of collaboration: a moral continuum
The paradox of collaboration: a moral continuum
Collaboration is a modern mantra of the neoliberal university and part of a discourse allied to research performativity quantitatively measured via co-authorship. Yet, beyond the metrics and the positive rhetoric collaboration is a complex and paradoxical concept. Academic staff are exhorted to collaborate, particularly in respect to research activities, but their career and promotion prospects depend on evaluations of their individual achievements in developing an independent body of work and in obtaining research funding. This central paradox, among others, is explored through analysing collaboration as a moral continuum. At one end of this continuum are other-regarding interpretations of collaboration involving the free sharing of ideas for the common good of scientific advance (collaboration-as-intellectual generosity), nurturing the development of less experienced colleagues (collaboration-as-mentoring) and disseminating knowledge claims via a range of scholarly platforms (collaboration-as-communication). However, other forms of collaboration are essentially self-regarding illustrating the pressures of performativity via increased research output (collaboration-as-performativity), through practices that reinforce the power of established networks (collaboration-as-cronyism) and the exploitation of junior researchers by those in positions of power and seniority (collaboration-as-parasitism). Whilst collaboration has always been at the heart of academic labour its paradoxes illustrate how individual and collective goals can come into conflict through the measurement of academic performance and the way in which such audits have perverted the meaning of collaboration.
Collaboration, research, neoliberalism, performativity, ethics
0729-4360
472-485
Macfarlane, Bruce
3e2b9eb0-1772-4642-bb51-ab49cc5b748c
Macfarlane, Bruce
3e2b9eb0-1772-4642-bb51-ab49cc5b748c

Macfarlane, Bruce (2017) The paradox of collaboration: a moral continuum. Higher Education Research & Development, 36 (3), 472-485. (doi:10.1080/07294360.2017.1288707).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Collaboration is a modern mantra of the neoliberal university and part of a discourse allied to research performativity quantitatively measured via co-authorship. Yet, beyond the metrics and the positive rhetoric collaboration is a complex and paradoxical concept. Academic staff are exhorted to collaborate, particularly in respect to research activities, but their career and promotion prospects depend on evaluations of their individual achievements in developing an independent body of work and in obtaining research funding. This central paradox, among others, is explored through analysing collaboration as a moral continuum. At one end of this continuum are other-regarding interpretations of collaboration involving the free sharing of ideas for the common good of scientific advance (collaboration-as-intellectual generosity), nurturing the development of less experienced colleagues (collaboration-as-mentoring) and disseminating knowledge claims via a range of scholarly platforms (collaboration-as-communication). However, other forms of collaboration are essentially self-regarding illustrating the pressures of performativity via increased research output (collaboration-as-performativity), through practices that reinforce the power of established networks (collaboration-as-cronyism) and the exploitation of junior researchers by those in positions of power and seniority (collaboration-as-parasitism). Whilst collaboration has always been at the heart of academic labour its paradoxes illustrate how individual and collective goals can come into conflict through the measurement of academic performance and the way in which such audits have perverted the meaning of collaboration.

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Macfarlane NFR FINAL AMENDED paper - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 3 November 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 March 2017
Published date: 8 March 2017
Additional Information: Bruce Macfarlane is professor of higher education at the University of Southampton
Keywords: Collaboration, research, neoliberalism, performativity, ethics
Organisations: Centre for Education Policy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 408308
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/408308
ISSN: 0729-4360
PURE UUID: d3dd62d2-15b5-40eb-a1ed-d35782196b5e

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Date deposited: 19 May 2017 04:03
Last modified: 28 Oct 2023 01:31

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Author: Bruce Macfarlane

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