22 SES 10 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
In many European countries, higher education institutions outside the university sector now have a formal mandate to perform research related to regional needs and the improvement of education and professional practice (Kyvik & Lepori, 2010). The term 'new universities' will be used for those institutions. In our study, we focus on the expansion of academics’ role portfolios at new universities, researcher roles alongside teacher roles.
According to Ashforth (2001), in investigating role understandings and role transitions, the relationship between role and self is an important theme. Three attributes of roles are particularly relevant to each role transition. Attached to every role is a role identity. A role identity implies a certain 'persona' which can be understood as a self-in-role schema which channels thought, feeling and action. A role boundary, a mental fence, refers to the scope of a role. The role set consists of the various roles of other individuals that are linked to central roles of employees.
In this study, three types of role transition are considered 1) a profession-bound role transition, 2) a role switch transition, and 3) job crafting. We assume academics could be engaged in all the three types of role transition. We call this three-in-one role transition, in terms of a metaphor, the 'knight’s leap' of chess. Research on academics' understandings of their role roles and transitions from an integrative approach is rather seldom, except e.g., Åkerlind (2011).
Profession-bound role transitions (cf. macro role transition, Ashforth, 2001) can be identified during entry into a new professional domain such as research. Regarding certain highly complex roles, such as researcher roles, the challenges are comparable with the movements of the knight forwards or backwards, to acquire respectively retrieve abilities. Literature focused predominantly on profession-bound role transitions in teacher roles (cf. Akerlind, 2008).
A role switch transition (cf. micro role transition, Ashforth, 2001) involves frequent and recurring movements between roles, e.g., in our setting teacher and researcher roles. Academics' challenge is at one hand to attain a workable equilibrium within and across these roles. At the other hand, academics' challenge is to enrich various practices with their research. Both challenges involve boundary work. Which is similar to the knight who moves sideways on the chessboard, able to control squares of either colour, unless the knight is on the rim. Research on role switch transitions is growing (e.g. Billot, 2010; Visser-Wijnveen, et al., 2010).
The term job crafting (cf. role innovation, Ashforth, 2001) captures "the actions employees take to shape, mold, and redefine their jobs" (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). In this concept crafting there is an emphasis on employees' pro activity. In chess, only the knight can leap obstacles and turn corners. Research on academics' understandings of their identity in institutional innovation is increasing (e.g., Clegg, 2008; Ylijoki, 2005).
With regard to role transitions, both academics and organizations must learn about the nature and the context in which roles are embedded. Only few studies on role transition have focused on primary or proximal outcomes such as role clarity (Ashforth, 2001).
We investigate firstly the variation of academics' understandings of their researcher role and their entire, expanded, role portfolio. Secondly, we analyze the nature of academics' role transitions regarding professional development, mutual enrichment and inter-role conflict, and job crafting. Through clustering understandings of role identities and role transitions, and by linking these to respondents' background variables, we thirdly develop different profiles of academics' role transitions.
The guiding research question study was: In what different ways do research and teaching active academics understand their roles and role transitions as a consequence of expanding their role portfolio with researcher roles?
Åkerlind, G. S. (2005) 'Variation and commonality in phenomenographic research methods'. Higher Education Research & Development, (24)4, 321-334. Åkerlind, G.S. (2008). An academic perspective on research and being a researcher: An integration of the literature. Studies in Higher education, 33(1), 17-31. Åkerlind, G.S. (2011) Separating the 'teaching' from the 'academic': Possible unintended consequences. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(2), 183-195. Ashforth, B. E. (2001). Role transitions in organizational life. An identity-based perspective. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Billot, J. (2010). The imagined and the real: Identifying the tensions for academic identity. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(6), 709 - 721. Charmaz, K. (2003). Grounded theory: Objectivist and constructivist methods. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Strategies for qualitative inquiry (pp. 249-291). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Clegg, S. (2008). Academic identities under threat? British Educational Research Journal, 34(3), 329-345. Kyvik, S. & Lepori, B. (2010). Research in higher education institutions outside the university sector. In S. Kyvik, & B. Lepori (Eds.), The research mission of higher education institutions outside the university sector: Striving for differentiation. Higher Education Dynamics, Vol. 31. Sandberg, J. (1997). Are phenomenographic results reliable? Higher Education Research & Development, 16, 203–212. Strauss, A. & Corbin, J.M. (1990). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. California: Sage Publications. Visser-Wijnveen, G. J., Van Driel, J. H., Van der Rijst, R. M., Verloop, N., & Visser, A. (2010). The ideal research-teaching nexus in the eyes of academics: Building profiles. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(2), 195-210. Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J.E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. The Academy of Management Review, (26)2, p. 179-201. Ylijoki, O-H (2005). Academic nostalgia: A narrative approach to academic work. Human Relations, 58(5), 555-576.
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