Drawing on two international research projects, Reconstructing Relationships in Higher Education: Challenging Agendas looks behind formal organisational structures and workforce patterns to consider the significance of relationships, particularly at local and informal levels, for the aspirations and motivations of academic faculty. In practice, and day-to-day, such relationships can overlay formal reporting lines and therefore inform, to a greater or lesser extent, the overall relationship between individuals and institutions.
As a result, from an institutional point of view, relationships may be a critical factor in the realisation of strategy, and can in practice have a disproportionate effect, both positively and negatively. However, little attention has been paid to the role that they play in understanding the interface between individuals and institutions at a time of ongoing diversification of the workforce. For instance, they may provide space, which in turn may be implicit and discretionary, in which negotiation and influence can occur. In this context, Reconstructing Relationships in Higher Education also reviews ways in which institutions are responding to more agentic approaches by academic faculty, particularly younger cohorts, and the significance of local managers, mentors and academic networks in supporting individuals and promoting career development.
The text, which examines the dynamics of working relationships at local and institutional level, will be of interest to senior management teams, practising managers at all levels, academic faculty, and researchers in the field of higher education.