PurposeThe purpose of this study is to investigate whether the impact of the marketisation of the English HE sector on academic staff and the nature of their professional work is felt to the same degree in different English universities. The study was conducted between November 2015 and April 2017.Design/methodology/approachUsing the interpretivist paradigm, a qualitative, inductive approach is adopted. In total, 12 semi-structured interviews of 60-90 min each were conducted with academics of six English university types (ancient, old and new civics, plate-glass, technological and post-1992). Participants who were identified by non-probability sampling included professors, principal, senior and lecturers and associate lecturers.FindingsSix key themes emerged regarding the impact on academic staff and their work: efficiency and quantity over effectiveness; autocratic, managerialist ideology over academic democracy and debate; instrumentalism over intellectualism; de-professionalisation and fragmentation of the academy; increased incidence of performativity, bullying and workplace aggression; and work intensification. The ancient university is least impacted by marketisation in terms of academic staff and the nature of their work. Next are the old and new civic universities, followed by technological, plate-glass universities. The most impact is felt by academics (and the nature of their work) in the post-1992 universities.Research limitations/implicationsThere is a relatively small number of interviews in this study; therefore, it is difficult to categorically correlate an academic biography with their opinion in the context of their university type. More male than female participants were interviewed. International staff were not interviewed, and this could bring a varying perspective to the narrative found in this study. A mixed approach in further research would aid this objective. Some of the questioning in the pilot study was not as focused as any further primary research would have to be.Originality/valueA further area of study, which could have practical implications, add originality and value would be to investigate how good practice in “employee engagement” in the university context might pave the way forward. This has the potential to benefit academic staff directly and the institution, a win–win solution for all stakeholders.
International Journal of Organizational Analysis – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 12, 2018
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