Working Paper 45

A delicate balance: optimising individual aspirations and institutional missions in higher education

Published March 2019

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Working Paper 45, authored by Dr Celia Whitchurch, Professor William Locke and Dr Giulio Marini, offers an analysis of the interviews undertaken as the first stage of CGHE Project 3.2, with senior managers and academic staff, in eight universities.

Building on the findings of Working Paper 43, this paper explores the approaches taken by both groups in addressing institutional and individual aspirations, relationships between individuals and their institutions, and ways in which both are likely to be realised in practice via local managers such as heads of department and programme or project leaders.

The paper suggests that there has been a significant shift from linear career ladders to a variety of possible career trajectories, some of them unique to the individual, and that non-traditional, nonlinear careers may be becoming the norm. The shape of an individual career may also depend on particular initiatives and contacts, and the way in which individuals are able to harness networks, be they vertical or horizontal. Run onWithin career structures, roles themselves appear to be increasingly open to interpretation and development, sometimes outside formal job descriptions and in other locales. Three approaches to roles and careers are identified, described as Mainstream, Portfolio and Niche, demonstrating how these may be adopted by individuals at different times and in different circumstances.

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