22 SES 11 C, Adapting to Circumstances and Changing With the Times? Is this the Dawn of a New Academic Professionalism in Europe?
In the current context of knowledge-intensive economy, universities are regarded as key players in the national innovation system. Correspondingly, competitiveness of enterprises, regions and nations in the global markets is seen to be dependent on how well and how quickly they are able to commercialise scientific knowledge into new products and processes. Relying on a temporal perspective, the paper explores how these macro-level changes have shaped the nature of academic work and the ways in which academics build their professional identities. The theoretical starting point is the thesis of the acceleration of time in the late capitalist society, giving rise to a non-stop, 24/7 culture characterized by simultaneity, non-linearity, incoherence and instantaneity (Bauman 2000; Leccardi 2007; Rosa 2003). It is argued that the speeding-up of academic work (more and better outcomes in a shorter period of time) creates serious tensions in academic work. The entrepreneurial university imposes growing pressures for academics to be flexible and innovative and to produce top-level results, but this has to be done in an increasingly tight time frame and often on short-term contracts. The empirical basis of the paper is grounded on focused interviews with Finnish academics representing different disciplinary fields and organisational settings.
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