Research Output

Towards an understanding of the management contribution in post-92 universities

  Over recent years there has been considerable debate about the purpose, value and expectations of higher education. The relationship between government and the higher education sector has become focussed on the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector and on the experience of students as customers. These notions are contested, and sit within a broader context that includes consumerism, marketization, globalisation, and public sector
reform more generally. In higher education, this debate has been polarised and sometimes characterised within institutions as “collegiate” versus “managerial”. These tensions are explored not simply as competing perspectives but as ciphers for competing ideologies. The study considered how academic managers have negotiated this terrain, and the contribution of management to the health of an institution.
Qualitative interviews were carried out with senior academic managers in 12 post-92 UK universities, which were regarded as particularly susceptible to economic pressures affecting the public sector following the financial crash of 2008. Conceptual and practical issues relating to the use of interviews were addressed, and the limitations of the study explored. A number of broad themes were identified: management orientation, about how the organisation is run; institutional orientation, about institutional
purpose and journey, past and future; orientation towards academic staff and students; and, student related performance measures. The inter-relations between themes, and the patterns in participant responses were examined.
Management actions can affect institutional performance for good or ill, and the bounded nature of the relationship between academics and managers is acknowledged. In this context, advice is offered that may be of benefit to university academic managers balancing competing expectations in complex and challenging financial times.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 January 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Mcintosh, I. L. Towards an understanding of the management contribution in post-92 universities. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Higher education, students as consumers, education ideology

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