Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN19_05: New Dynamics in Academia
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Helena Hirvonen, University of Eastern Finland
Location: BS.3.28
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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The Development of Academic Community in Portugal-The Relevance of Internal Segmentation

Teresa Carvalho, Anabela Queirós, Sara Diogo

University of Aveiro, CIPES Portugal

Academics have been classified as an elite profession. The special status academics had in society, in a great extent resulting from the state protection sustained in the need to preserve autonomy and freedom, allows their classification as organic intellectuals. Nevertheless, in the last years the academic profession has been submitted to similar pressures and challenges as other professional groups. The working conditions are said to be deteriorating with an increase in precarity and casualisation, configuring deprofessionalisation processes. However, the analysis leading to these conclusions do not consider the relevance of internal segmentation. This paper intends to address this gap in the literature by analysing the evolution of the working conditions of Portuguese academics in the last 10 years taking into consideration the relevance of age, gender, participation in the governance roles and the type of Higher Education Institution where they develop their activities. Empirical data is based on a quantitative approach, sustained in 2 online surveys distributed in 2008 and 2018 in Portugal. Both surveys were part of international research projects (CAP - Change in Academic Profession and APIKS - Academic Profession in Knowledge Society). Responses of 1320 academics in the first survey and 2206 in the second sustain the analysis presented. Data analysis allows concluding that the working conditions of Portuguese academics deteriorated in the last ten years but significant differences emerge based on gender, age and the participation in management bodies. These results reveal that internal segmentation is a relevant variable when the professionalisation process and professionalism of academics is under analysis

The Academic Profession In The Context of NPM. Empirical Evidences From The German University System

Melike Janßen

University of Bremen, Germany

During the last decades, German universities have undergone profound changes as part of governance reforms. These reformations encompassed the introduction of NPM practices that were implemented to facilitate the quantification and comparability of academic performance in order to allocate resources and to improve the "quality" (whatever this may mean) of research and teaching. As a consequence, professors are increasingly expected to provide an account of their performance and to adhere to new evaluation criteria. However, little attention has been paid to exploring the mechanisms and boundary conditions that inform individuals’ perceptions, responses and acceptance or rejection of evaluations and associated criteria. Starting from a sociology of professions´ perspective, I will argue that a true deterioration of long-established values and practices has not taken place since academics are still able to maintain personal standards of performance and incorporated criteria of worth. However, while some academics obtain a sense of recognition by experiencing a congruence between own performance/evaluation criteria and those installed by NPM, tensions and ambivalences similarly emerge as other academics struggle with NPM and feel that their academic identity and professional convictions become endangered by NPM.The reasons for this variance are associated with various factors: individual scientific motivation, disciplinary affiliation, career stages, and the institutional/governance context function as relevant boundary conditions. In this sense, individuals’ resistance can be understood as a struggle over jurisdictions amongst and across professions and as an acrimonious fight on the predominance of values and beliefs in academia. The paper draws on 64 semi-structured interviews with university professors from five sub-disciplines, which were conducted as part of a qualitative study on the consequences of performance measurements at German universities.

The Ecology of a Professional Field: Higher Education in Sweden

Ola Agevall, Gunnar Olofsson

Linnaeus University, Sweden

Ever since Andrew Abbott’s seminal work on the system of professions, research on the professions has acknowledged, in principle at least, the necessity to consider professions in their relation to other professions. The division of labour, jurisdictional conflicts and intra-organizational interactions between professions have received their due share of scholarly attention. But less effort has been spent on understanding other ways in which a profession can be shaped and conditioned by its relations to its professional surroundings.

In this paper, we examine how the reproduction and expansion of the Swedish corps of university teachers were conditioned by the manner in which universities were intertwined with the professional labour market which they increasingly supplied with PhDs. We argue that Swedish universities depended on these labour market niches to absorb an over-production of PhDs – thereby simultaneously establishing secure career paths extra muros and securing a pool of future would-be university professors. Equally important, the university and its teacher corps were shaped by these interconnections. First, individual career trajectories served as the warp that linked the university to neighboring organizations. Second, disciplines have their specific hinterlands of employing organizations, and the extent and type of external career paths differentiates the teacher corps with regard to its conditions of reproduction and expansion.

One or Many? Scholarly Profession Inside and Outside Academia

Taru Siekkinen1, Elias Pekkola2

1University of Jyväskylä, Finland; 2Tampere University, Finland

Traditionally the academic profession has been considered to be heterogeneous because of its fragmentation vertically to disciplinary subcultures and horizontally to different staff categories (Teichler 2010). However, there has been a common understanding that academic profession shares at least two unifying characteristics: global academic values (Altbach 1998) and national institutional environment i.e. universities (Light 1974). However, the academic profession is reflecting the changes in its environment (Musselin 2013). One of the most fundamental changes is the change in the role of universities in a knowledge production; the knowledge is produced also in organisations and networks outside universities (Välimaa, Hoffman & Papatsiba). In addition, the role of universities’ personnel policy has shifted from support of professional inclusion and exclusion towards more open approach to support the national development of talents and human capital.

In this paper, seek an answer to the question: does organization context matter for professional identity. We use the survey data collected in 2017 from PhDs working in universities, private and public sector in Finland (N=1226). Very preliminary analysis shows that PhDs work tasks are rather similar in every sector (teaching emphasised in universities). In addition, many PhDs working in other sectors than universities still felt e.g. belonging to the academic community. In all of the sectors, PhDs did not felt strong organisational commitment towards their employer organisation and they reported wide collaboration with other sectors than their own.

This paper discusses on new forms of academic professionalism that is possibly emerging in collaborative network environments.

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