22 SES 05 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Parallel Paper Session
The academic world is not longer the tranquil place that used to be, especially for those professors installed on the top of hierarquies ruling devoted students and submissive lecturers. After the first revolution, in XIX Century, from teaching to teaching-research universities, a second revolution is taking place shaping the research-entrepreneurial university (Etzcowitz, 2002). In this context, under the generalization of accountability and the growing pressure of League Tables (Liu and Cheng, 2005; Strathern, 2000; Tight, 2000); the increasing research selectivity (Harley, 2002); the changing funding patterns (Lewis, 2000; Willmott, 2003); the consequent changing habitus of academics from public intellectuals to skillful funds attractors, and other factors related with these, the research game have become more competitive, marked-dependent and elitist (Lucas, 2006). Another noteworthy consequence is an increasing amount of research groups organizing themselves as quasi-firms entities (Gibbons et al, 1994; Etzcowitz, 2003).
This process is having a huge impact on every facet of academic life. Therefore, is extremely important to understand how some outstanding research groups are tackling the structural dilemmas raised by this changing world and shaping its culture and identity (Deem and Lucas, 2007). The paper will address an inquiry developed in Andalusia, Spain with this purpose. In a first phase, the inquiry proceeded through a questionnaire in order to identify general features and problems facing by these groups. The second phase consisted in a multiple case study where five research groups that had been acknowledged as excellent by the regional authorities took part. The fields of knowledge of these research groups included ecology, fluids engineering, archeology, neuro-psichology and biomedicine. The paper will focus on the results of the second phase of the inquiry.
While most of the studies that tried to identify the characteristics of successful research groups focused on contextual factors as academic field, geographical location and predominant source of income; formal or organizational characteristics as size, professional categories of the members, internal relationships and leadership styles; and personal issues such as their age and experience, gender, and personality features (Cohen, 1991; Hemlin, 2006; Triadó-Ivern, Aparicio-Chueca and Marimón-Viadiu, 2008), we think that some other issues as power dynamics, patterns of communication and cultures should be taken into account. The general purpose of the analysis was to unveil different strategies –intentionally designed or not– played by research groups to gain visibility in their specific field and in doing so, allowing them to maintain their access to financial resources. This paper outlines the influence of history and organizational culture as well as leaders’ personality in research groups’ development and achievement. In sum, we will try to prove that different groups adopt specific strategies to increase their presence in their own academic field and that they are in relation with their social dynamics as well as with cultural factors.
Cohen, J.E. (1991) Size, age and productivity of scientific and technical research groups. Scientometrics, 20(3) 395-416. Deem, R. and Lucas, L. (2007) Research and teaching cultures in two contrasting UK policy contexts: Academic life in Education Departments in five English and Scottish universities. Higher Education, 54, 115–133. Etzcowitz, H. (2003) Research groups as ‘quasi-firms’: the invention of the entrepreneurial university. Research Policy, 32, 109–121. Etzkowitz, H. (2002) MIT and the rise of entrepreneurial science. London: Routledge. Gibbons, M. et al (1994) The new production of knowledge. The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage. Harley, S. (2002) The Impact of Research Selectivity on Academic Work and Identity in UK Universities. Studies in Higher Education, 27(2) 187-205. Hemlin, S. (2006) Creative knowledge environments for research groups in biotechnology. The influence of leadership and organizational support in universities and business companies Scientometrics, 67(1) 121–142. Lewis, J. (2000) Funding social science research in Academia. Social Policy & Administration, 34(4) 365–376. Liu, N. and Cheng, Y. (2005) The academic ranking of world universities. Higher Education in Europe, 30(2) 127-136. Lucas, L. (2006) The research game in academic life. London: Open University Press. Strathern, M. (2000) The tyranny of transparency. British Educational Research Journal, 26(3) 309-321. Tight, M. (2000) Do league tables contribute to the development of a quality culture? Football and higher education compared. Higher Education Quarterly, 54(1) 22–42. Triadó-Ivern, X., Aparicio-Chueca, P. and Marimón-Viadiu, F. (2008) Perfil de los grupos excelentes en investigación y características que les hacen mejores en el trabajo de equipo. Capital Humano, 200, 100-106. Willmott, H. (2003) Commercialising Higher Education in the UK: the state, industry and peer review. Studies in Higher Education, 28(2) 129-141.
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