Change and Continuity in the Appointment of Second Tier University Managers

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Shepherd, Sue (2011)
  • Publisher: University of Kent
  • Subject: LB2300 | H

The modern university is a multi-million pound enterprise, operating in a highly competitive global market place and an increasingly challenging economic environment. The quality of university management – especially as executive team level – has thus never been more important and it follows that appointing the best candidates is essential.\ud \ud This study of university top team recruitment practice has two research components, or phases. The first identifies the extent to which pre-1992 universities are moving from an internal, fixed-term appointment process for their second tier managers – that is, Deputy and Pro Vice-chancellors – to one of external advertisement. The second is a census of current second tier managers.\ud \ud The picture that emerges is one of change and continuity. Pre-1992 institutions are fairly evenly divided across different institutional types and affiliations into those that have changed their recruitment practice and those that have not. The number of second tier managers continues to rise and their remit widen to include portfolios outside traditional academic areas. Moreover, there is evidence of increasing role differentiation between DVCs and PVCs and between ‘policy’ and ‘executive’ PVCs. \ud \ud The recruitment pattern remains remarkably constant, however. Even where an external appointment process has been adopted, the profile of second tier managers remains largely the same: they are overwhelmingly male professors from UK universities. This is because, although the nature and complexity of the job has changed, the presumption that only senior academics are appointable has not. \ud \ud At a conceptual level, the increase in the number and executive power of academic managers appears somewhat at odds with the prevailing discourse of managerialism in universities, which bemoans the rise of “management” and diminution in status of the academic. Are today’s academic managers the agents of managerialism or HE’s unique means of defending against it? Either way, the issue warrants further investigation.
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