The first years of academic employment represent “a sensitive period” which may define the future course of academic development (Remmik et al., 2011). Early career academics often face numerous motivational, structural and social obstacles (Lamont, 2009; van Balen, 2012; Van den Bring, Benchop, 2012) which may threaten not only their academic success but their very ability to stay in the academe. Early career academics that establish successful track record in publishing and grant applications are at distinct advantage regarding their future academic career prompting the “Mathew effect” which further enhances their available resources, support, opportunities and motivation (Bazeley, 2003; Diprete, Eirich, 2006). However, a majority of emerging academics generally face numerous obstacles in the development of their academic careers, such as short-term contracts, low salaries, or work-family conflict (Linkova, Cervinkova, 2013). In the Czech Republic, emerging academics appear to be the group that most frequently leaves academia, citing financial and job insecurity, necessity to combine multiple jobs, or disillusion from academic work (Cidlinska, Vohlidalova, 2015).
In order to support a successful development of academic potential of emerging academics it is necessary to understand how these academics experience work conditions at their academic workplaces. A theoretical framework suitable for this purpose has been provided by the Job Demands-Resources model (JDR, Bakker, Demerouti, 2014). Extant research on the JDR model provides compelling evidence that work motivation, professional outcomes and positive development are determined by available “job resources” (broadly defined as factors functional in achieving work goals, reducing job demands, or stimulating personal growth, such as social support, mentoring, feedback or learning and career opportunities). By contrast, “job demands” (i.e. job aspects that are associated with physiological and psychological costs, such as supervisory control, work overload, work-family conflict, or job insecurity) have the opposite effect. We may hypothesize that junior academics have available lower job resources and experience higher job demands in comparison to senior academics (e.g. Bazeley, 2003), although some studies suggest that these differences may be small (Jones et al. 2012).
The main objectives of the present paper are: 1) to explore, from multiple perspectives, the job demands and job resources available to junior academics employed at Czech public universities, 2) to compare the job resources and job demands reported by junior and senior academics, and 3) to discuss implications for practice and policy in Czech and international higher education, especially with regard to similar systems of higher education governance (cf. Shin, Jung, 2014).
Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2014). Job demands–resources theory. In Cooper, C. & Chen, P. (Eds.), Wellbeing. A complete reference guide. (pp. 37-64). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Bazeley, P. (2003). Defining early career in research. Higher Education, 45(3), 257-279. Cidlinská, K., Vohlídalová M. (2015). Zůstat nebo odejít? O deziluzi (začínajících) akademických pracovníku a pracovnic. Aula, 23(1), 3-35. DiPrete, T. A., & Eirich, G. M. (2006). Cumulative advantage as a mechanism for inequality: A review of theoretical and empirical developments. Annual Review of Sociology, 271-297. Jones, G., Weinrib, J., Metcalfe, A. S., Fisher, D., Rubenson, K., & Snee, I. (2012). Academic Work in Canada: the Perceptions of Early‐Career Academics. Higher Education Quarterly, 66(2), 189-206. Kristensen, T. S., Hannerz, H., Høgh, A., & Borg, V. (2005). The Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire-a tool for the assessment and improvement of the psychosocial work environment. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 31(6), 438-449. Lamont, M. (2009). How professors think: Inside the curious world of academic judgment. Harvard University Press. Linková, M., & Červinková, A. (2013). "Vlastní laboratoř": akademické trajektorie a gender v současných biovědách. Gender, rovné příležitosti, výzkum, 14(1), 15-26. Patterson, M. G., West, M. A., Shackleton, V. J., Dawson, J. F., Lawthom, R., Maitlis, S., ... & Wallace, A. M. (2005). Validating the organizational climate measure: links to managerial practices, productivity and innovation. Journal of organizational behavior, 26(4), 379-408. Remmik, M., Karm, M., Haamer, A., & Lepp, L. (2011). Early-career academics’ learning in academic communities. International Journal for Academic Development, 16(3), 187-199. Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire. A cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66, 701–716. Shin, J. C., & Jung, J. (2014). Academics job satisfaction and job stress across countries in the changing academic environments. Higher Education, 67(5), 603-620. Van Balen, B., van Arensbergen, P., van der Weijden, I., & van den Besselaar, P. (2012). Determinants of success in academic careers. Higher Education Policy, 25(3), 313-334. Van den Brink, M., & Benschop, Y. (2012). Gender practices in the construction of academic excellence: Sheep with five legs. Organization, 19(4), 507-524.
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