Human Resources Policies and the Individualisation of Academic Labour
A & C Black
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A university is a complex and unique environment staffed by academics with a variety of specialist skills and knowledge. Accordingly, such ‘knowledge workers’ require freedom, autonomy and high levels of discretion to operate effectively. Human Resource Management (HRM), it is argued, constrains such academic freedom. The purpose of this chapter is to consider the extent to which HRM has contributed to changes in the working lives of academics. As background to this, the emergence of a ‘mass’ system of HE provision (Scott 1995), organized on quasi-market principles, has led universities to fundamentally reform their operating systems and management structures (Waring 2009). The importance of ‘effective labour management’ has also been recognised in this context, and universities have increasingly turned to HRM in order to manage staff. The aim of HRM is to improve organizational performance by stimulating individuals through the use of various ‘high commitment’ and performance management systems (Guest 1997; Storey 1992). In the following chapter the trajectory of change in UK HE, leading to the modern, marketized university is outlined, followed by a brief outline and critique of the concept of HRM. The adoption of HRM, following the government and Higher Education Funding Council’s (HEFCE) 2001 Rewarding and Developing Staff initiative, is discussed, and its ‘individualizing’ effects on academics. HRM policy and practice is then considered, in the context of a study of UK universities carried out between 2005 and 2007 (Waring 2010).
Academic Working Lives: Experience, Practice and Change;
Waring, M. (2013) ‘Human Resources Policies and the Individualisation of Academic Labour’ in Gornall, L, Cook, C, Daunton, L, Salisbury, J and Thomas, B (eds) Academic Working Lives: Experience, Practice and Change, London: Bloomsbury
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