22 SES 09 B, Management and Governance in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
Very little research has been carried out into European professors. Together with anecdotal evidence, what research that does exist reveals the European professoriate to be a heterogeneous group manifesting a wide and diverse range of attitudes, behaviour and power. Burgel (2006) and Viry (2006) both write of the jealousy and rivalry that persists among the professoriate in France - their accounts resonating with echoes of the elitism detailed within Bourdieu’s (1984) depiction and sociological analysis of the French academy. Yet amidst the professorial patronage that is a feature of French high education, many junior academics and researchers benefit from the mentoring and career development that often feature within the system’s ‘laboratoire’ organisation of research activity, comparable to the ‘mechanism of mutual support’ between professors (maestro) and their ‘subordinates’ that Rostan (2006) identifies as a traditional aspect of the Italian academy. In other European countries professorial academic leadership and support appear to be more variable and ad hoc. Whilst Macfarlane’s (2011) small scale study revealed a professed commitment to developing junior colleagues on the part of his sample of UK-based professors, a study that gathered the perspectives of those on the receiving end of professorial academic leadership found that over half of the sample of academics, researchers and university teachers did not feel they were receiving the level and quality of help and support that they wanted or needed from their professorial colleagues (Evans, Homer and Rayner, 2011; Grove, 2011). The same study identified UK-based professors to be predominantly research-focused, whereas Bracht and Teichler (2006) and Jansen et al (2007) report, surprisingly, that German professors tend be less research-focused and more teaching-focused than their junior colleagues.
This ECER paper reports the preliminary findings of a study that adds to this picture of the European professoriate. Located within a theoretical framework that combines the sociology of professions with occupational psychology, the research draws upon Evans’s taxonomy (Evans, 2011) to identify and portray eleven dimensions of the reported ‘enacted’ professionalism (Evans, 2008) of the UK-based professoriate, whilst examining the systemic, institutional and individual biographical influences that combine to shape this professionalism.
Funded by the UK’s Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the study is directed at complementing a recent study (Evans, Homer and Rayner, 2011) of professorial academic leadership viewed from the perspective of ‘the led’. It seeks the ‘other side of the coin’ perspective: that of professors themselves. It addresses the following research questions:
- What is the nature and extent of academic leadership currently practised by the UK-based professoriate – what are its key strengths and weaknesses?
- What factors do professors identify as facilitators of and impediments to their capacity and willingness to provide (effective) academic leadership?
- What makes a ‘leading professor’?
- How do professors envisage academic leadership evolving in response to changes to the economic and political context in the UK?
- To what extent, and in what ways, does the professoriate’s perspective on issues a.-c. correlate with non-professorial perspectives, and what accounts for any discrepancies?
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Homo academicus. Paris: Minuit. Bracht, O., & Teichler, U. (2006). The Academic Profession in Germany. In Research Institute for Higher Education (ed.), Reports of Changing Academic Profession Project Workshop on Quality, Relevance and Governance in the Changing Academia: International Perspectives (pp.129-150). Hiroshima: RIHE, Hiroshima University. Burgel, G. (2006) L’université: La misère française. Hachette Littérature. Evans, L. (2008) Professionalism, Professionality and the Development of Education Professionals, British Journal of Educational Studies, 56, (1), 20-38. Evans, L. (2011) The ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England: professional standards, performance management, professional development, and the changes proposed in the 2010 White Paper, British Educational Research Journal, 37 (5), 851-870. Evans, L., Homer, M. and Rayner, S. (2011) Leading Professors: professorial academic leadership as it is perceived by ‘the led’, paper presented at the annual conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales, December 7-9. Grove, J. (2011) ‘Prima donna’ professors lambasted for failure to mentor, Times Higher Education, November 17th. Janson, K, Schomburg, H., & Teichler, U. (2007). Wege zur Professur: Qualifizierung und Beschäftigung an Hochschulen in Deutschland und den USA. Münster: Waxmann. Macfarlane, B. (2011): Professors as intellectual leaders: formation, identity and role, Studies in Higher Education, 36:1, 57-73. Rostan, M. (2006) The Changing Academic Profession in Italy: accounts from the past, first insights from the present. In Research Institute for Higher Education (ed.), Reports of Changing Academic Profession Project Workshop on Quality, Relevance and Governance in the Changing Academia: International Perspectives (pp. 153-178). Hiroshima: RIHE, Hiroshima University. Viry, L. (2006) Le monde vécu des universitaires. Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
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