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Title: Coping with conflict in the current university environment : the case of academic department heads
Author: Sotirakou, Tatiana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 2729
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1999
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Higher education in the UK, and in the most European countries, has undergone major changes in the last two decades. These changes were in part external - economic, social, technological and political - and in part internal. Most of the external changes, due essentially to global trends, were not exclusive to the UK. Different countries have used different approaches to adapt their higher education systems to the economic and financial uncertainty present in their environment. Value-for-money and efficiency and performance indicators have all become concerns in higher education. Mass higher education, the emergence of the knowledge society, the marketisation of higher education and the turbulence of globalisation have brought revolutionary changes to the university's mission and purposes. New conceptions of what counts as a university are developed. The external pressures on universities have been reflected in an increased concern with their management and governance systems. Strong pressures for academic autonomy, managerial efficiency and market competition underlie the changing patterns of control in the context of higher education. What characterises the changing external and internal environment is the issue of power among the different interest groups: the academy, the state, the market. Under recent pressures for stronger institutional management and the resulting loss of departmental power in favour of the institution, the post of university department head represents one of the most complex positions and is characterised by high levels of role conflict. Two distinct dimensions of role conflict were identified in the contemporary university environment, according to the results of the present research survey. "Janusian" and "value" conflict were the forms of role conflict experienced by heads of departments in the post-binary sector. On the one hand, heads' efforts to provide the critical link between the managerial requirements of the modern university and academic staffs' values of their departments, in addition to the performance of their academic core activities led to the development of "janusian" role conflict. On the other hand, the emphasis on market mechanisms in higher education and the departure from the traditional academic work values, in an era of post-modernity, characterised by change, uncertainty and complexity contributed to the appearance of the -value" conflict among heads of departments. However, both of these conflict dimensions were relative to the type of institution (new/old university category). In order to assist heads of departments to cope with the conflicts, challenges and threats, specific strategies are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available