The tertiary research milieu: Agile management for positive engagement

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 34: Higher Education on the Edge

July, 2011, 394 pages
Published by
K. Krause, M. Buckridge, C. Grimmer, & S. Purbrick-Illek
0 908557 85 X

Internationally, higher education institutions are encountering increased stakeholder and funding demands and are restructuring their organisations in order to design procedures and processes that address new accountabilities. New Zealand is no exception, having experienced increased external funding pressures on tertiary institutions in the last two decades. During this period of economic restraint, which encompasses increased accountability and control within universities and the call for greater ‘utility of research’ (Hansson & Monsted, 2000), research funding is increasingly tied to institutional outcomes and performance. Organisational reactions have included the utilisation of a management culture to enhance efficiency and productivity. As a result, teaching and research contexts are being repeatedly modified. One outcome has been the remodeling of academic practices combined with increased compliance measures for academic staff. Continuous change, as against episodic change, demands a management response that can address change of an evolutionary nature. Ironically, while leadership, organisational culture and supportive practices generate the most positive academic responses, there has not always been the provision or visible framework for these. Since academics perform more effectively when research expectations are supported by acknowledgement, resourcing and opportunities for independence, we contend that ‘agile management’ could flexibly integrate systemic requirements with collective practices.

Keywords: Performance Based Research Funding (PBRF), academic staff, agile management