Academic staff’s career pathway design in English pre-1992 universities: contemporary evolution or systematic de-construction of Homo Academicus?

Strike, Antony John (2009) Academic staff’s career pathway design in English pre-1992 universities: contemporary evolution or systematic de-construction of Homo Academicus? University of Southampton, School of Management, Doctoral Thesis , 293pp.


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In twenty-first century England, the emerging knowledge economy requires educated workers and the creation of new knowledge to fuel economic growth. The extension of opportunities in higher education is critical to social equity. Pressures of marketisation, massification and globalisation add to an agenda for change. For Universities to succeed in this pressurised environment, the response of academic staff – the most important resource in any institution – is critical. Against this background, there has been an emphasis from policy bodies and Universities on the need to improve the management of human resources.
This research intended to describe what new academic career models were emerging, using field research through case studies. The research sought to examine a sample of higher education institutions’ promotion procedures and interview the authors of those documents. Having understood the formal context, examine through interviews the social reality of academics following careers in higher education. Using this inductive data, it was intended to generate possible career models to extrapolate, deductively using a survey questionnaire, to all English pre-1992 universities, the usage of the emergent models. Finally, explanations were sought for the models using statistical analysis, including secondary data.
It was found that academic career models were localised, diversified and inclusive; differentially recognising variant contributions through new career routes. These career paths seemed to provide educationalists and researchers an opportunity to participate on equal terms with those following traditional careers.
This conclusion seemed attractive as it recognised the changes observed and viewed them as institutionally strategic and academically benign. However, the trend towards a management-led division of academic labour, basing jobs on elements of a work process, tended to fractionalise the academic role and did not correlate with rank. This specialisation may represent the de-construction, or de-mystification, of the craft of academia by managers without clear performance gains. If what was observed was a varied occupation being broken down into describable elements, then what this study observed was the start of the destruction, rather than the evolution, of the craft profession that was academia. It was not clear the observed fractionalisation of academic roles, breaking apart the research-teaching nexus, was beneficial to the profession.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: academic career models

Organisations: University of Southampton
ePrint ID: 72564
Date :
Date Event
February 2009Published
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 20:55
Further Information:Google Scholar

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