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The management of academic workloads : social and technical dynamics

Barrett, LC


LC Barrett


PS Barrett

G Aouad


The focus for this thesis has been on the management of academic workloads,
stimulated by surveys highlighting high levels of stress in the sector. To get some
appreciation of the subject and its context a literature synthesis was conducted
revealing that the subject has received little critical attention. As a consequence the
research methodology involved theory building, rather than hypothesis testing, and
Grounded Theory has been used for this. Case studies were conducted in eight diverse
universities involving interviews of a range of staff in each. Two non-educational case
studies were also carried to get wider insights into potential approaches. In all fiftynine
interviews were conducted.
Case and cross case analyses were carried out on particular aspects, these were then
mapped, using cognitive mapping, to give a visual representation of the relationships
at work. A second more focused literature synthesis was carried out to widen
understanding of the findings and from there an initial model was developed for
workload allocation processes. This model was re-examined using the case study
material and through a further longitudinal case study. Conclusions were then drawn,
highlighting contributions to theory, practice, and methodology, together with
recommendations for future work.
The main elements of the findings are that practice in the sector varies considerably
between and within UK universities, but that drawing on the elements of good
practice seen it has been possible to propose the features of a broad, generic approach.
This approach stresses the importance of both the social and technical aspects of the
issue and the necessity of actively addressing the reciprocal relationships between
individual, department and university levels.


Barrett, L. The management of academic workloads : social and technical dynamics. (Thesis). Salford : University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2012
Award Date Jan 1, 2007