Having the flexibility to pursue an international career is increasingly common in many professions. Based on two qualitative studies of international academics, this paper focuses on academia. Commencing with a discussion about the different dimensions of flexibility in academia it focuses specifically on geographic flexibility, understood as the ability to pursue a career across international boundaries. Drawing on conceptions of an international community of scholars operating in a science context and specific national and institutional contexts the paper explores the experiences of international academics. It also considers the ‘modes of engagement’ they use to navigate the demands of those contexts. The findings suggest that while academia as a profession may be characterized by geographic flexibility a certain tension exists between academia and the national and institutional contexts within which academics must operate. It is noted that it is internationally mobile academics who are currently paying the price of those tensions and offers a cautionary note to those who are contemplating such a career move. It also suggests that academics can adopt certain ‘modes of engagement’ in order to maintain, transform or subvert those institutional challenges.
British Journal of Management – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 2009
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