Universities are what academics make of them: a case study of individual actors shaping their institution

Nausedaite, Reda (2016) Universities are what academics make of them: a case study of individual actors shaping their institution. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of 2016NausedaiteREdD_2017_03_27_FINAL.pdf]
Download (1MB) | Preview


This study seeks to deepen understanding of how individual actors within an organisation can contribute to shaping the organisation. Focusing on the micro-organisational level, it examines how ground-level academics in one higher education institution interpret the complexities of their institutional context, how they respond to this context in their everyday actions, and to what extent these actions may in turn affect the institution. In order to gain deeper insight into the experiences and practices of these individuals, a qualitative case study was conducted of the case institution. The analysis, which was multi-level and multi-perspective in approach, drew on data gathered from documents and semi-structured interviews with university academics and managers.

The results illustrate that the extent and nature of the coupling between everyday practice and institutional context varies from academic to academic, with examples being identified of tight coupling as well as strategic and superficial coupling. The large number of potentially relevant categories were condensed down to a manageable level and structured into a typology to give a useful interpretive framework for understanding individual actors’ role in creating, maintaining and transforming institutions. This typology, which links academics’ interpretation of and responses to the institutional context, identifies three categories of academic: operationalisers, mediators and opposers.

The typology perspective highlights that individual actors are agentic beings whose practices are based not just on what the institutional context espouses, but also on what they as professionals and social beings need and want. Since it is their actions that create the outcomes that allow the institution to move forward, individual actors have the power to impose their own rules and institutional agenda and to play a role in how the organisation functions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: James Tweddle
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2019 10:46
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2019 10:46
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72196

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item