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Title: Academics' lives, experiences and location independent working at a UK university
Author: Lee, Amanda L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 0408
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Location independent working (LIW) is a term used by the case study organisation, Mercia University, to describe the practice of working in locations other than a traditional office setting. Staff wishing to become LIW sign up to a new working arrangement whereby they are provided with a laptop, printer and smartphone, and forgo the right to an office on-campus. A longitudinal ethnographic research strategy incorporating interviews, diaries and the author’s own reflective journal were used to explore issues associated with academic employees following the formal introduction of an LIW scheme into the Business School. An interpretivist reading of labour process theory was adopted to examine and make sense of academics’ daily, lived experiences. Data were analysed using the Framework method (Ritchie and Spencer 1994) and findings revealed an entrenched managerialist culture driven by private sector business models. Work intensification and long-work hours were common and this was exacerbated by constant connectivity to mobile technologies. Academics displayed a strong sense of academic identity and a desire to be treated as professionals. Nevertheless, a fundamental shift in the nature of the relationship between academics, managers and students was observed and socially constructed divisions arose between LIW and office-based academics. A new conceptual model of control-resistance-compliance is proposed to explain the complex interplay that exists at and between structural and organisational contexts, managerial strategies of control and individual experiences of academics. As such this study extends and refines existing theoretical understandings of the academic labour process. It is recommended this study be extended beyond the Business School and Mercia University to other establishments. Further research should also be carried out to consider gendered and cross-cultural perspectives on the issues raised and more investigation is needed into the impact of LIW on student and personal relationships. Finally, it is suggested formal adoption of LIW practices in other institutions could facilitate opportunities for academics to exercise greater levels of freedom, autonomy and control.
Supervisor: DiDomenico, Maria Laura ; Saunders, Mark N. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available