The paper enquires into the connections, relationships and consequences of the ways in which academics and administrators in contemporary European universities work together. It draws on literature and also workshops in two higher education institutions, both dual-intensive (research and teaching) universities, one in the UK and one in Sweden. The two countries have higher education systems with some similarities such as membership of the European Higher Education Area and countries which were signatories to Bologna but also a number of historical and contemporary differences. In Sweden it is not unknown for senior administrators to have backgrounds in forms of academic work or even to be current or past full professors By administrators, the paper is not referring to senior manager-academics such as rectors and vice-rectors but to what in the UK are often called ‘professional services staff’, working in fields like library and Information Technology services, student support and administration, strategic planning, quality assessment, educational development, communications/marketing and research and enterprise. The key research question is whether academics and administrators in the same institutions typically and mostly work in professional collaboration or are more likely to behave as though they are professions in conflict in relation to power, resources and decision making. The secondary research questions are about interrogating why these relationships are as they are and about what the consequences of current academic/administrator relationships are for everyday work practices and decision making in higher education institutions. It will be suggested that reforms to the governance and management of universities, including new managerialism (Deem et al 2007) and a greater involvement of lay governors in the strategic and operational aspects of universities and ‘boardism’ practices (Magalhães, Veiga et al. 2016, Veiga, Magalhães et al 2015), as well as changes to academic work like casualization, work-overload, specialization, the growth of ‘work anywhere’ practices and a continuing emphasis on performance management, may have had effects on academic/administrator relationships. Recent research has looked at the changing conditions of the academic profession (Musselin 2012, Teichler and Hohle 2014, Santiago, Carvalho et al. 2015). Other researchers have examined the changing roles of university administrators (Gornitzka and Larsen 2004) and the search for professional status, higher educational requirements, a common cognitive base and more formal networks. There is also a notion that some administrators operate in a ‘third space’(Whitchurch 2012 ), often occupying part-academic, part-administrative posts. In some European countries, mid and senior or even junior administrators may have masters or doctoral degrees (Holtta 2008) and are thus well equipped to engage in such hybrid roles but this is more difficult if high qualifications are not yet much sought in administrators in some European countries such as Portugal (Machado-Taylor 2012). In times of change, for example in the Bologna process, it is also the case that academics may see things rather differently from administrators (Veiga and Neave 2015). Macfarlane has looked at those who occupy para-academic roles in higher education (e.g learning technologies or skills support) which he describes as de-skilling academics (Macfarlane 2011b), though this claim could be contested. Whilst academic attitudes to senior managers have been subjected to considerable investigation (Deem, Hillyard et al. 2007, Collini 2012, Fredman and Doughney 2012), rather less has been written exploring interdependencies and relationships between academic professionals and ordinary administrative staff. It is suggested that one of the bi-products of new managerialism and new governance regimes in higher education is an academic distrust of professional administrators, especially towards those who work at the centre of an institution rather than in an academic department (Gray 2015).
Bartunek, J., M and M. R. Louis (1996). Insider/Outsider Team Research. London, Sage. Berry, K. (2011). "The Ethnographic Choice: Why Ethnographers Do Ethnography." Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 11(2): 165-177. Collini, S. (2012). What are universities for? . London, Penguin. Deem, R., et al. (2007). Knowledge, Higher Education and the New Managerialism: The Changing Management of UK Universities. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Elias, N. and J. Scotson (1994). The Established and the Outsiders. London, Sage. Fredman, N. and J. Doughney (2012). "Academic dissatisfaction, managerial change and neo-liberalism." Higher Education 64(1): 41-58. Gornitzka, A. and I. M. Larsen (2004). "Towards professionalisation? Restructuring of administrative work force in universities." Higher Education 47: 455–471. Gray, S. (2015). "Culture clash or ties that bind? What Australian academics think of professional staff." Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 37(5): 545 - 557. Holtta, S. (2008). Funding of Universities in Finland. University Reform in Finland and Japan. T. T. Aarrevaara and F. Maruyama. Tampere, Tampere University Press: 104-116. Israel, M. and I. Hay (2006). Research ethics for social scientists. London, Sage. Macfarlane, B. (2011b). "The Morphing of Academic Practice: Unbundling and the Rise of the Para-academic." Higher Education Quarterly 65(1): 59-73. Machado-Taylor, M. L. (2012). The Rise of the Adminisrtrative Estate in Portuguese Higher Education. Higher Education in Portugal 1974-2009: a Nation, a Generation. G. Neave and A. Amaral. Dordrecht, Springer: 353-381. Magalhães, A., et al. (2016). " The changing role of external stakeholders: from imaginary friends to effective actors or non-interfering friends." Studies in Higher Education. Musselin, C. (2012). "Redefinition of the relationships between academics and their university." Higher Education 65: 25–37. Santiago, R., et al. (2015). "Changing knowledge and the academic profession in Portugal." Higher Education Quarterly 69(1): 71-100. Teichler, U. and E. A. Hohle, Eds. (2014). The Work Situation of the Academic Profession in Europe: findings of a survey of 12 countries. Dordrecht, Springer. Veiga, A., et al. (2015). From Collegial Governance to Boardism: Reconfiguring Governance in Higher Education. The Palgrave International Handbook of Higher Education Policy and Governance,. J. Huisman, H. De Boer, D. Dill and M. Souto-Otero. London Palgrave Macmillan: 398-416. Veiga, A. and G. Neave (2015). "Managing the dynamics of the Bologna reforms: How institutional actors re-construct the policy framework." Education Policy Analysis Archives 23(59): 2-35. Whitchurch, C. (2012 ). Reconstructing Identities in Higher Education: The Rise of Third Space Professionals New York Routledge.
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