Professionalisation and decision making in higher education management: new collegiality and academic change

  • Anne Rixom

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


This study discusses the professionalisation of higher education management and emerging patterns of decision making within a context of academic and organisational change. A total of thirty interviews were conducted across six Universities, with five similar roles interviewed in each institution. Respondents were drawn from both centralised and decentralised parts of the organisation, and represented both academic and professional services perspectives. Three ideas are proposed. The first is an emerging New Collegiality in which decision making behaviour is developing that reflects traditional collegial debate, but within new peer groups of academic and professional services managers. Academic managers are also using New Collegiality to share good management practice, with new organisational combinations offering new forms of collaborative working within and across subject disciplines. A second theme proposes that a Higher Education Professional Services Framework exists, which has situationally contingent characteristics that are unique to the professional services in higher education. These features combine decision making and management behaviours to operate as a singular body positioned throughout the organisation in context specific ways. Finally, a third concept identifies three linked levers of management used by the centre to address tensions of internal demands for decentralisation against the external pressures to centralise. These linked levers consist of the creation of an intermediate tier such as a faculty or college, a proactive use of management information as an evidential tool for decision making, and a particular use of the Higher Education Professional Services Framework. The findings suggest that Universities are ostensibly decentralising their organisational structures while simultaneously centralising decision making authority through changes in accountability. These trends raise a number of relevant issues to the professionalisation of higher education. .
Date of Award1 May 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorIan Jamieson (Supervisor) & Rajani Naidoo (Supervisor)


  • higher education management
  • identity
  • professionalisation
  • decision making
  • new collegiality
  • third space

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