22 SES 09 B, Management and Governance in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
Academic middle managers hold a special position within the HE-organization. (In this study Academic middle managers are defined as those middle managers that bear the final responsibility for one or more educational programs/faculties within a university). Their main characteristic is that they are part of various information flows, all streaming into different directions: top-down, bottom-up, horizontal and diagonal. As a result of these information flows they know what is going on within their organization (tactic knowledge). Middle management is the traditional level at which university policies and strategies are effectively translated into practices and into concrete actions. This provides the academic middle manager with a great starting point to influence the strategic innovations within an organization.
Despite this critical relevance to strategic innovation, however, the role of the academic middle manager has remained largely unexplored in literature on educational and organizational behavior. Research on what middle managers actually do in universities has been minimal. A vast literature search has shown that academic middle managers’ behaviors and courses of action and also their role in strategic innovation in Higher Education contexts have not yet been examined.
This ongoing research about the roles of academic middle managers in Higher Education is aimed to explore and declare what kind of roles they fulfill and what variables affect these roles. In the research two kind of variables are distinguished: organizational variables, like context, structure and culture; and professional variables, like autonomy, engagement and educational leadership. This paper reports the results on whether or not cohesion exists between professional factors (autonomy, engagement) and the roles of academic middle managers.
The focus of this paper is to understand the way professional conditions influence the roles of academic middle managers. The personal variables mainly determine how the academic middle manager fulfills his role. It is the middle manager himself who changes his approach based on how the variables change. When these personal variables are concerned, I mainly focus on those that affect the way a middle manager interprets either his situation or the issue that he is confronted with. Examples of such variables are engagement (inspiration) and autonomy In my opinion, an inspired academic middle managers gets done more than one who “has seen it all” and is just going through the motions (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). An academic middle manager who is autonomous is in a position to makes his own choices and has therefore more leeway in how he interprets his role than when his autonomy is limited. Within these personal conditions, the academic middle manager will always attempt to balance his own ambitions against those of the organization. Whenever he succeeds, he will enjoy his work. The sub-question that is raised by these issues is: what are the relationships between engagement (indifferent or driven) and autonomy (limited or independent) on the one hand, and the presence or absence of specific roles fulfilled by academic middle managers on the other hand.
Breaugh, J.A. (1985). The measurement of work autonomy. Human relations. 38. 551-570. Clegg, S. & J. McAuley (2005). Conceptualizing Middle Management in Higher Education: A multifaceted discourse. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. Vol. 27, No. 1, March 2005, pp. 19-34. Floyd, S.W. & B. Wooldridge (1996) The Strategic Middle Manager: how to create and sustain competitive advantage. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Hancock, N. & D.E. Hellawell (2003). Academic Middle Management in Higher Education: a game of hide and seek? Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. Vol. 25, No. 1, May. 2003. pp. 5-12. Kallenberg, A.J. (2007). Strategy Innovation in Higher Education: The Roles of Academic Middle Managers. Tertiary Education Management. Vol. 13. No. 1, pp. 19-33. Meek, V.L., L. Goedegebuure, R. Santiago & T. Carvalho (2010). The Changing Dynamics of Higher Education Middle Management. London/New York: Springer. Schaufeli, W.B. & Bakker, A.B. (2003). Utrecht Work Engagement Scale. Prelimenary Manual. Utrecht: Utrecht University. Occupational Health Psychology Unit.
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