Institutional management

Leading the Academy

Professor Sandra Jones (2017)

Sandra spoke with Dr Heather Davis about the publication and their longstanding interest in shared leadership: “I am quite excited at its release as it gave me a chance to bring theory and our local empirical research together, with a set of resources for all. It provides an important extension to our Leadership Foundation Stimulus paper on shared leadership”.

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Australian Universities’ Review

Ian R Dobson (2011)

Despite extensive and on-going efforts, people from a low socio-economic background continue to be significantly under-represented in Australian higher education. In response to this situation, a two year action research project explored the broad issue of higher education access for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds in South East Queensland, Australia. This paper focuses on one specific aspect of that project, and reports on the underlying factors which constrain access to higher education access for one cultural community in Australia. Analysis is based on interview data from young people and parents from this community, and presents a rich description of their lived experiences. Enhanced understanding of the perspectives of young people and their families relating to higher education access provides a solid foundation for developing informed and culturally appropriate higher education access initiatives.

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Making room for new traditions

Heather Davis and Jenny Moon (2013)

We argue that a critical reflective professional practice is a necessary skill for tertiary education managers working in the knowledge-intensive enterprises of the tertiary education sector today. This is because a critical reflective professional practice is a useful sensemaking frame with which to address complexities and contestations of our everyday work. Indeed, Baker and Kolb (1993) regard such ‘inside-out’ perspectives as being highly “effective in valuing diversity and plurality in organisations” (p 26). A critical reflective practice offers a way to surface pressures and a way to examine our assumptions, as well as those of others and our organisation, about the way we do our work. In examining our professional practice and the conditions of our work it is possible to uncover limitations and possibilities, become less prone to complacency or rigidity in our thoughts and actions, and develop a greater awareness of different perspectives and possibilities through engagement with this practice. This is all the more necessary when we add accelerating rates of change, uncertainty, ambiguity and as well as highly politicised and contested spaces to the mix.

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Developing and Sustaining Shared Leadership in Higher Education

Richard Bolden, Sandra Jones, Heather Davis and Paul Gentle (2015)

In recent years, concepts of shared and distributed leadership that view leadership ‘as a group quality, as a set of functions which must be carried out by the group’3 have emerged as popular alternatives to heroic and individual approaches. A shared leadership perspective shifts the focus on leadership from person and position to process and is now widely advocated across public, private and not-for-profit settings where there is a need to influence and collaborate across organisational and professional boundaries.

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Tertiary Education and Management Conference 2015 Refereed Papers

Vin Massaro (2015)

This paper presents findings from a joint research project between Curtin University and the LH Martin Institute to evaluate the first Emerging Leadership and Managers Program (eLAMP) institutional cohort in the sector, which was sponsored by Curtin University. The paper presents discussion about leadership development opportunities in higher education that address the complex, global and competitive funding, student and labour challenges facing universities today. Data collected and analysed from the pre and post eLAMP evaluations by this Curtin cohort in 2014 suggest that participants enhanced their knowledge, skills and abilities across the eLAMP learning outcomes in all four modules of eLAMP. Whilst low response rates from line managers has made it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about observable participant behaviour change, anecdotal evidence suggests that eLAMP is viewed by participants and their line managers as a successful organisational development initiative for Curtin University.

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Academic dissatisfaction, managerial change and neo-liberalism

Nick FredmanEmail and James Doughney (2012)

This paper examines perceptions by academics of their work in the Australian state of Victoria, and places such perceptions within the context of international and Australian debates on the academic profession. A 2010 survey conducted by the National Tertiary Education Union in Victoria was analysed in light of the literature on academic work satisfaction and on corporatised managerial practice (“managerialism”). The analysis is also placed in the context of neo-liberalism, defined as a more marketised provision combined with increased pro-market state regulation. Factor analysis was used to reduce 18 items we hypothesised as drivers of work satisfaction to four factors: managerial culture, workloads, work status and self-perceived productivity. Regression models show the relative effects of these factors on two items measuring work satisfaction. This analysis is complemented by discursive analysis of open-ended responses. We found that satisfaction among academics was low and decreasing compared to a previous survey, and that management culture was the most important driver. Concern with workloads also drove dissatisfaction, although academics seem happy to be more productive if they have control over their work and develop in their jobs. Work status had little effect. In the open-ended responses the more dissatisfied academics tended to contrast a marketised present to a collegial past. While respondents seem to conflate all recent managerial change with marketisation, we pose a crucial question: whether the need for more professional management needs to be congruent with marketising policy directions.

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Middle-level Academic Management

Thi Lan Huong Nguyen (2012)

Middle-level academic managers play a central role in university management; however, their roles are not always clear and straightforward. Although this research subject has been comprehensively investigated in the last 40 years, most studies are western-biased. This study examines the roles of Heads of Department in a newly established university in Vietnam to fill this literature gap. Through 24 interviews and document analysis, the study finds that the main task areas of the Heads of Department centre on programme management, academic staff management and facilities management. Other areas such as strategic management and budget management appear to be neglected. The paper supports the findings of the existing literature that Heads of Departments’ responsibilities vary in detail and the roles demanded are governed in large measure by departmental contexts. The study concludes that the Heads of Department enjoy a low level of autonomy and also act more as managers than as leaders. It is recommended that an enhanced leadership role should be given to the Heads of Department so that they can perform to the best of their ability, hence improving university performance.

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