Purpose – Studying academic careers can be particularly useful for discussions about new forms of professional careers. This conceptual paper seeks to shed light on academic careers by discussing the (changing) multiple contexts governing academic careers. Design/methodology/approach – A neo‐institutional framework for analysing academic careers is developed that treats them as outcomes of overlapping institutions belonging to the different social contexts in which academics simultaneously act. This approach allows one to locate academic careers in the context of new and traditional career literature and to address changes in the institutional context of academic careers. Findings – Shows how traditional structures and mechanisms of academic careers are interwoven with the overall patterns of national higher education systems and their societal embeddedness. Empirical evidence was found that academic careers are becoming more boundaryless. But evidence was also found that academic careers are more bound to the organisation due to recent changes in university policies and practices. Research limitations/implications – The paper is limited to the discussion of overlapping institutional contexts governing academic careers. Further international comparisons could deepen understanding of specific formal and informal rules. Future macro‐micro research enables one to show how the career models can be traced to the career experiences and practices. Micro‐macro research allows one to see how the aggregate outcomes of individual actions can be traced to the overall performance of a given higher education system. Originality/value – This conceptual paper proposes a neo‐institutional framework for analysing academic careers. This approach is useful for cross‐national comparisons, the study of emerging new career models and practices in academe, and the study of macro‐micro‐links in career research.
Career Development International – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 2005
Keywords: Academic staff; Organizational theory; Career development; Managerialism; Germany; United States of America
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