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Title: Constructing identities of alumni relations professionals in Central and Eastern European higher education
Author: Sych, S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 4392
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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The purpose of this study is to explore the ways alumni relations (AR) specialists in Central and Eastern European (CEE) higher education institutions construct their professional identities, and factors affecting the construction of these identities. These issues are investigated through the prism of literatures on “alumni relations,” “professionalism” and “identity,” viewing the construction of identity as a reflexive process between individuals and the structures in which they operate. A qualitative analysis has been undertaken with thirteen institutions, comprising in-depth semi-structured interviews with 16 purposefully recruited alumni relations specialists, from eight Central and Eastern European countries. The data gathered throughout this research has been synthesized to explore and map the complex process of constructing professional identity. Given the limitations of this small-scale study and its interpretivist epistemological positioning, a framework has been developed to gain a more nuanced understanding of the topic. Accordingly, three emerging themes have informed the exploration of the AR professional identity construction: how professional identity is manifested; the role of the career trajectory, and institutional context factors. Consequently, some characteristics of a pronounced AR professional identity and factors affecting it, are suggested. The latter include composite institutional structure variables (e.g. peripheral, secondary, support or core AR institutional positioning) and type of career trajectory profile (e.g. specialist, experimenter, and resident). A number of areas associated with inhibiting or facilitating professional identity construction and the development of roles in response to changing contexts have been identified, including a “strained” AR professional identity, the role of institutional leadership and a lack of AR professional development opportunities. Possible future directions for research and implications for practice are discussed, including the role of professional development and key influencers, such as institutional leadership and practitioners with a strong AR professional identity, in fostering AR professional projects, and mitigating factors that inhibit this process.
Supervisor: Whitchurch, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available