22 SES 06 B, Academic Professions and Leadership
In today’s higher education institutions (HEIs), there is a noticeable tension between the research and teaching staff, and the management and administration staff (Teichler & Höhle, 2013), and this undercurrent is affecting both the quality of academic work and job satisfaction at the national and international levels. This situation is a reflection of globally changing patterns in the circumstances and conditions surrounding the production of scientific knowledge (Gibbons et al.1994). This paper focuses on these changing patterns, particularly regarding how they affect the working situation of professional academics as well as knowledge production and the quality of higher education. Current changes in the work context within academia have commonly been attributed to the influence of New Public Management (NPM) ( Brunson & Sahlin, 2000), which is challenging traditional academic roles. For example, new forms of management are replacing collegiate selected boards and more power is being given to institutional management (Beach, 2013).
In addition, reduced funding, increased dependence on external financing and a tougher evaluation and accounting pressure have impacted the core content areas of professional academics. On the one hand, the importance of academic professions is increasing within the broader society, and they are being recognised as a key factor within all sectors for the promotion of a ‘knowledge society’ (Teichler & Höhle, 2013). However, on the other hand, it has been pointed out that collegiality is undergoing a remarkable loss of influence and reduced autonomy in their professional practices as well as an increased workload (Enders, 2006). One question is if and how researchers and teaching staff perceive themselves as facing a paradigm shift and as increasingly belonging to a new service category? These might appear to be contradictory ideas, and, as suggested, collegiality cannot simply be transformed into a market-inspired NPM model of control (Slaughter & Lesley, 1997). However, the current dilemma is the transformation of the role of academic work into a ‘private good’ partiality (Hasselberg, 2012; cf. Alvesson & Spicer, 2016).
This ongoing research project is investigating current trends in Swedish HEIs. Since the 2011 implementation of institutional autonomy reform in Sweden, HEIs are increasingly being transformed into NPM inspired organisations, where employability and economic benefit have gained precedence over traditional academic and pedagogic values (Ahlbäck & Sundberg, 2016). Swedish HEIs, however, show significant differences in their internal organisation. Therefore, the aim of the current paper is to examine which governing mechanisms and forms of autonomy are apparent in three cases of vocational higher education programmes. These are programmes specifically exposed to the ongoing changes in how the selection and organisation of knowledge closely intervene with local conditions of assigned relevance and practical orientation of learning.
The research questions of this study are as follows:
- Which governing mechanisms are apparent in different HEI contexts?
- How do the interactions among different agents within university departments form academic and professional knowledge claims?
The theoretical point of departure is to capture the way that agents make social and cognitive sense of a particular institutional setting, an institutional habitus, and that can be said to rest on a habitus with ‘two registers of meaning and action’ (Ball et al., 2002; Bourdieu, 1998; Reay et al., 2002). The first concerns how one’s cognitive ability is shaped to match one’s performance to particular institutions. The second relates to wider social and cultural classifications of what constitutes our self and our ability to identify with a profession.
Autonomy as a crucial aspect of academic work at HEIs is methodologically addressed in this paper in terms of how a rationale at the policy level becomes a force of change regarding actual exchanges and transactions in society. This approach involves an investigation of what Jessop (2004, p. 160) has labelled a ‘cultural political economy’ and of how both global ideology and local conditions become integrated in the social transformation of HEI. The methodological focus is on how changing conditions in HEIs are used, understood, addressed and experienced by different agents within institutional dynamics. The project aims to identify analytical distinctions among different actors’ perceptions of and objectives within institutional conditions that form the meaning and objectives of education (Vaughan, 2002). This includes relating and comparing knowledge and legitimation processes with consequences for individuals and groups, and organisational conditions in relation to macro political influence. Vocational higher education programs are extensively exposed to diverse types of market adjustment and internal management ideals. Essentially, the focus is on how knowledge and competences are transformed, established and legitimised through interactions within particular universities and various labour representatives and professions. Human resource management (HRM) programmes are interesting for this type of study as they are located within a field of tension between the demands of academia and the expectations of students and labour representatives (Larsson, 2011). This study focuses on three HRM education programmes – located at a traditional university, a newer university established after 1998 and a university college with a clear professional orientation – to better understand the differences and similarities among their internal management and administration processes, the role of academic work and their relative institution-level autonomy. This case study can shed light on particular aspects of the state’s control of HEIs; local institutional strategies of adaption or resistance, and, accordingly, what forms of autonomy exist and how it is formed. The design of the project can therefore contribute to the current knowledge about how the work of professional academics and management has become linked in relation to globalisation and travelling policy trends dominant in Swedish higher education politics. This process takes into account what HEIs consider to be a good exchange value and the corresponding adoption of desirable knowledge and of academic work (Beck & Young, 2005). This investigation includes semi-structured interviews with HEI management and administration, research and teaching staff and union representatives.
The initial results reveal information about the intrinsic relationships among the various forms of collegiality, professional autonomy and management ideals, particularly regarding how friction between academic integrity and adaptability to entrepreneurial practices is handled. What becomes clear is that the range of agency that professionals can mobilise is constrained or enabled by various factors, such as tenure status and discipline. Local networks also seem to have a significant influence. Although there are apparent similarities in how NPM logic has come to influence professional logic, there is still a significant local cultural autonomy in how managerial and professional relationships are formed and what is considered valid symbolic capital within the investigated HEIs. In practice, these are examples of how NPM inspires organisations to take on new forms of identity within the field of higher education, where – at smaller HEIs in particular – real-world application and cooperation with external interests are increasingly being valued as core capital in the work of academic faculty. What is practical and employable is becoming an epistemological focal point, and the institutional setting is seemingly fostering a mentality of ‘what’s in it for me’, where informal negotiations and networks are replacing collegial insight and where institutional consensus is becoming conditional upon professional submission to managerial-level decision making. The process of how academics are handling these tensions and the paradoxes of resistance and adaptability, as well as engagement and mistrust, importantly hinges on how local networks enable them to reconcile their professional identity with their lost autonomy. These professional responses are intertwined with each faculty member’s personal history or habitus. In sum, the focus is on how an academic career comes to suits one’s personal aspirations and sensibilities in relation to institutional habitus.
Ahlbäck Öberg, S., Bull, T., Hasselberg, Y. & Stenlås, N. (2016). Profession under siege. Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift, 118 (1), 93-126. Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. (2016). (Un)Conditional surrender? Why do professionals willingly comply with managerialism. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 29 (1), 29-45. Ankarloo, T., & Friberg, T. (2012). Den högre utbildningen. Möklinta: Gidlunds Förlag. Ball, S. J., Davies J., David, M., & Reay D. (2002). 'Classification' and 'Judgement': Social Class and the 'Cognitive Structures' of Choice of Higher Education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23 (1), 51-72. Beach, D. (2013). Changing higher education: converging policy-packages and experiences of changing academic work in Sweden. Journal of Education Policy, 28 (4), 517-533. Beck, J., & Young, M.F.D. (2005) The assault on the professions and the restructuring of academic and professional identities: A Bernsteinian analysis. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26 (2), 183–97. Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical reason: On the theory of action. Stanford, Ca.: Stanford University Press. Brunson, N. & Sahlin-Andersson, K. (2000). Constructing Organizations: The exampel of Public Sector Reform. Organization Studies, 21 (4), 721-746. Enders, (2006). The academic profession. In J.F. Forest & P.G. Altbach (Eds.), International handbook of higher education (pp. 5-22). Dordrecht: Springer. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage. Hasselberg, Y. (2012). Vetenskap som arbete. Normer och arbetsorganisation i den kommodifierade vetenskapen. Möklinta: Gidlunds. Jessop, B. (2004). Critical semiotic analysis and cultural political economy. Critical Discourse Studies, 1 (2), 159-174. Larsson, D. (2011). Programmet för personal och arbetsliv. In G. Olofsson & O. Petersson (eds.), Med sikte på profession. Akademiska yrkesutbildningar vid ett nytt universitet (pp.191-220). Lund: Arkiv. Reay, D., David, M.E., & Ball, S.J. (2001). Making a difference? Institutional habituses and higher education choice, Sociological Research Online, 5 (4). Slaughter, S. & Lesley, L.L. (1997). Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies, and the Entrepreneurial University. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Teichler, U., & Höhle, E.A. (2013). The Work Situation of the Academic Profession in Europé: Findings of a Survey in Twelve Countries, Dordrecht: Springer. Vaughan, D. (2002). Signals and Interpretive Work: The Role of Culture in a Theory of Practical Action. In: A.C. Karen (Ed.), Culture In Mind: Toward a Sociology of Culture and Cognition. New York: Routledge.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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