Complex change and constrained resources mean that for many research active and engaged faculty pressure to publish and collaborate is a struggle. Professional development was previously driven by faculty career progression ambitions and research interests; however, this now takes place within a context where there is tension between the rigor, relevance and accountability in their research publications, and the needs of society in general. As faculty grapple to navigate challenges presented by continuous change, job uncertainty and increasing workloads (Rus, 2012; Breevaart & Bakker, 2014), the issue of maintaining and increasing talented faculty commitment and engagement becomes a growing strategic imperative for the successful realisation of an organisation’s strategic vision. Going forward faculty professional development will involve their ability to maintain the relevance of their research interests to their academic community; and to the practice community. This has implications for their core research, professional collaborations and inter-disciplinary orientations. Understanding how these collaborations are created and maintained is invaluable.
This study explores the structure of international scholarly partnerships, research collaborations and their impact on faculty engagement and professional development. Questions that guide this study:
- What is the underlying structure of scholarly partnerships? What are the key contributors and their networks; the development points; and promising research collaboration opportunities?
- How are an individual’s incentive, content and interaction dimensions of learning supported through the use of learning partnerships, academic communities of practice and social networks?
- How do individual faculty members experience perspective transformation on their identity through the personal, professional and situational contexts of their scholarly partnerships and research collaborations?
Employee engagement is conceptualised by Kahn (1990) as an internal state of being, comprised of the psychological domains of meaningfulness, safety and availability. Each of these are affected by the presence or absence of external factors (Shuck, 2011) and determine whether individuals bring their ‘preferred self’ to their role (Kahn, 1990; May 2004; Tuckey, et al 2012; Lave & Wenger, 1991)). Role positionality (Saks, 2006) may identify a distinction between a professional working within a discipline and that of their role as researcher/lecturer within the organisation.
Communities of Practice include a domain of knowledge, a community of people who care about this domain, and a shared practice developed to be effective in their domain (Lave & Wenger 1991; Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002). They thrive where the goals and needs of an organisation intersect with the passions and aspirations of participants and are influenced by how individuals gain entry and inclusion (Muijis, West and Ainscow, 2010) and the relevance of boundaries (Oreszczyn, Lane, and Carr, 2010). Weerts and Sandmann (2010) explore how faculty evolve in their thinking on the relevance of their research interests to their academic community; and their practice community.
Mezirow’s (1991, 2012) transformative learning theory depicts ways individuals identify and challenge underlying assumptions, prompting changed perspectives leading to new roles and actions. Changes in thinking that lead to new worldviews, and new perspectives on personal and professional lives (Cranton, 2006; Tennant, 2012) inform current debate on how scholarly partnerships impact on an evolving professional identity (Markus and Nurius, 1985; Beauchamp &Thomas, 2009; Beijard et al 2004; Rodgers & Scott, 2008; Hamman, Gosselin, Romano & Bunuan, 2010).
Faculty research projects that solve complex problems must bring people with different yet complimentary skills together to create trans-disciplinary (Stokols, 2006; Pohl and Hirsch Hadorn, 2007) and cross-functional collaboration. Collaboration differs among disciplines (Glanzel & De Lange, 2002) and countries (Wagner and Leydesdorff, 2005). Social relationships and social networks are important in how scientific communities and scholarly partnerships are formed and support collaborative research projects and initiatives (Santonen and Ritala, 2014; Marsick and Watkins,1990).
Baxter Magolda, M. & King, P.M. (2004) Learning Partnerships: Theory and models of practice to educate self-authorship, Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing Beauchamp, C., & Thomas, L. (2009). Understanding teacher identity: an overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175-189. Bakker, A.B., and Bal P.M.,(2010). Weekly Work Engagement and Performance: A study Among Starting Teacher. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Vol. 83, pp. 189-206. Charmaz, K. (2014) . Constructing Grounded Theory. (2nd Edn). London: Sage Publications. Kahn, W.A. (1990). Psychological Conditions for Personal Engagement at Work, Academy of Management Journal, Vol.33; No.4; Pgs 692-724. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991), Situated Learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Palo Alto, CA: Institute for Research on Learning. McPherson, JM, L, Smith-Lovin & HN Cook (2001). Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 415-454. Mezirow, J., Taylor, E.W. and Cranton, P. (2012). The Handbook of Transformative Learning: Theory, Research, and Practice. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education. Muijis, D., West, M., & Ainscow, M. (2010). Why network? Theoretical perspectives on networking. School Effectiveness and Social Improvement, 21(1), 5-26 Pohl, C. & Hirsch Hadorn, G (2007) Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research, Dordrecht: Springer. Rodgers, C.R. & Scott, K.H. (2008). The development of the personal self and professional identity in learning to teach, Handbook of Research on Teacher Education, 732-755 Roulston, K. (2010). Reflective interviewing: A guide to theory and practice. Los Angeles: SAGE. Rus, D. (2012). Leading for Engagement and Performance. EAWOP Worklab. Santonen, T. & Ritala, P. (2014). Social network analysis of the ISPIM innovation management community in 2009-2011, International Journal of Innovation Management, Vol.18. No.1; February 2014. Stokols, D. (2006). Toward a science of transdisciplinary action research, American Journal of Community Psychology, No.38, pgs 63-77. Tennant, M. (2012). The Learning Self: Understanding the potential for transformation. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Tuckey, M.R., Dollard, M.F. & Bekker, A.B. (2012). Empowering Leaders Optomise Working Conditions for Engagement: A multi-level study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Vol. 17; No.1; 15-27 Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Wagner, C.S. & Leydesdorff, L. (2005). Mapping the network of global science: Comparing international co-authorships from 1990 to 2000. International Journal of Technology and Globalisation,1, pgs185-208.
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