How are Academic Heads of Department supported to undertake their diverse roles in post-1992 English Higher Education Institutions?

Deane, John (2017) How are Academic Heads of Department supported to undertake their diverse roles in post-1992 English Higher Education Institutions? DBA thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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There has been acceptance for some time of the importance of the role of the academic Head of Department (HoD) to the successful delivery of a Higher Education Institution’s (HEI) vision and strategy. It has been argued that due to the increased pace of change in English Higher Education in the last few years, with a trebling of fees and regulatory change, a recent Higher Education and Research Act (2017), and the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework, that there is even more need for effective HoDs. There has also been acceptance for some time that the training and support provided for those taking on the HoD role has been limited. The focus of this research study is how academic HoDs in post-1992 English HEIs are supported to undertake their role, taking into account both how decisions are made and their academic identity. This study adopted an interpretive approach – in line with social constructivism – exploring the perceptions, feeling, and beliefs of HoDs. 14 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with HoDs in two post-1992 English HEIs to obtain their views on how decisions are taken either in a managerial or collegial manner, how their identity forms part of the support they draw upon, and the informal and formal networks and support mechanisms they utilise. A further seven semi-structured interviews were undertaken with senior managers to triangulate the data from HoDs. The data was analysed using template analysis and the key themes were identified. The findings suggest firstly that HoDs prefer a decision-making environment that utlises a ‘soft’ form of managerialism or collaborative and collegial culture in which decisions are made. This form of ‘soft’ managerialism, it is argued, allows for the development of informal support mechanisms. Secondly, the study found that HoDs were unable to maintain their research whilst being in the role (and this was a frustration to them), but they found their disciplinary networks and identity important in undertaking the role of HoD. Finally, the study established that the informal forms of support accessed by HoDs, either within or outside their institution, were of most value in allowing them to successfully undertake their role. The time and space to network and reflect with others on the common challenges they all faced provided the support that was of greatest value to HoDs. Although the findings from this study cannot be generalised they could be of value to HEIs and human resources managers, as well as designers of HoD leadership programmes in taking into account how best to support the development of informal support networks for HoDs.

Item Type: Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Heads of Department; Higher Education Institutions; England; Leadership; Human Resource Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5549 Personnel management. Employment management
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2018 15:42
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 14:56

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