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Title: The role of the Head of Department in 'new' British universities
Author: Smith, Robert E.
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1997
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This Thesis describes a study of the roles of heads of department in the 'new' universities, the former polytechnics. The study comprises a survey of all 105 heads of department in four 'new' universities and case studies in three of the four universities. The case studies were carried out by semi-structured interviews with the head and key members of the head's role sets in three departments in different academic disciplines. The role of the head is examined through the application of role theory and role concepts and a theoretical framework for the role is presented. The study showed that the role is complex and demanding and is subject to several conflicting pressures, many of which are similar to those experienced by heads of department in the 'old' or traditional universities. The main tensions and conflicts faced by heads are simultaneously representing their department to the university and the university to their department managing academics, particularly in terms of staff discipline and conflict between staff and acquiring and managing resources in a difficult economic climate. The dual role of the head as academic leader and manager was found to create tensions and conflicts but these were felt to be unavoidable. The need for the head of department to be an academic, rather than a professional manager was considered to be important. The main personal difficulty which heads experience is the excessive workload generated by role overload and the resultant long working hours. This presents dangers for heads in terms of its effect on their performance, personal academic profile, family life and personal health. A number of means of supporting the head are identified. These include delegation of responsibilities to others; training and development for heads; organisational mechanisms such as working groups; and the restructuring of faculties to provide flatter management structures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available