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Who do they think they are? The changing identities of professional administrators and managers in UK higher education

By Celia Whitchurch


Contemporary universities, serving mass higher education markets, find themselves delivering complex, broadly based projects such as student support and welfare, human resource development, and business enterprise. Established concepts of academic administration and devolved management have been overlaid by more fluid institutional structures and cultures, with a softening of internal and external boundaries (Whitchurch 2004; 2005). These developments have caused major shifts in the identities of professional administrators and managers, as they adopt more projectoriented roles crossing functional and organisational boundaries. This paper considers the dynamics of these changes, in terms that move beyond conventional assumptions about ‘administration’ and ‘management’. While identities have been defined traditionally via structured domains such as professional knowledges, institutional boundaries, and the policy requirements of the higher education sector, an emergent ‘project’ domain has fostered the development of an increasingly multi-professional grouping of staff, with implications for career futures

Year: 2006
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