Skip navigation

Managerialism and academic professional autonomy – power and resistance in the UK universities: the case of lecture capture policies before and during Covid-related shift to online learning

Managerialism and academic professional autonomy – power and resistance in the UK universities: the case of lecture capture policies before and during Covid-related shift to online learning

Rumyantseva, Nataliya ORCID: 0000-0001-9795-2590 , Ballardie, Ruth and Alahakone, Ratnesvary (2022) Managerialism and academic professional autonomy – power and resistance in the UK universities: the case of lecture capture policies before and during Covid-related shift to online learning. Project Report. Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE), London.

PDF (Published report)
37931_BALLARDIE_Managerialism_and_academic_professional_autonomy_Power_and_resistance_in_the_UK_universities.pdf - Published Version

Download (636kB) | Preview


Research aims
New Public Management (NPM) and marketisation have dramatically changed UK higher education (HE). Academic roles have been re-shaped (MacFarlane, 2012), workloads increased (Jacobs, 2004; Tight, 2010; Zucas & Malcolm, 2017) performance management has increased surveillance, with diminished professional autonomy, academic freedom and professional discretion. Institutional power has shifted from academics to managers (Deem & Brehony, 2005). New technologies contribute to this. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, lecture capture (LC) technologies although enabled teaching to go on during lockdowns, have also increased the rift between managerial and professional perspectives often at the expense of academics’ job satisfaction and job security. The aim of this research project was to explore how managerial and professional powers are negotiated during lecture capture policy development and implementation as well as the shift to online teaching. How these negotiation dynamics and wider institutional, social and economic inform and shape academic responses to changes (through compliance, adaptation or resistance), and how individual and collective responses mediate academic agency. This report focuses on reporting negotiation patterns across institutions and processes of academic resistance.
A mixed-method approach was engaged in this study. In the first stage, survey data were collected from 40 University and College Union (UCU) Branch Officials, in the second stage 61 semi-structured interviews across seven institutional cases were conducted. For each institutional case, at least one UCU Branch official and at least 4 academics were interviewed. In the majority of cases, the sample included a Head of Department or Deputy. Our goal was to explore how tensions between the divergent interests of managers and academic staff become apparent, contestable, and negotiable in the context of disruptive change. Scholars have long been aware that institutional policies are mediated, implemented, and resisted by local actors (Fanghanel, 2007). The introduction of lecture capture policies, now very common across UK institutions (Ibrahim et al, 2020), and the pandemic-dictated shift to online teaching in the academic year 2020-2021 presented an opportunity to explore the dynamics of managerial and academic power dynamics. We focused on the processes of academic responses and resistance in particular at individual and collective levels.
Findings and Conclusions
• The survey results indicated that pre-92 institutions have more stringent regulations of teaching recordings through opt-out or compulsory policies (80%) as opposed to their post-92 counterparts (36%).
• The survey results highlighted that the majority of UCU Branch Officials (63%) had concerns about the LC policies as they were initially proposed, but only 40% of the Branches were able to take part in meaningful negotiations. More than 65% of the policies in the sample were either opt-out or mandatory, removing academic discretion over the recording of teaching. The stringency of the opt-out clause varied across institutions with no appanrent differences between pre and post-92 institutions.
• 70% of the Branches solicited their members' views about LC policy negotiations, 13% of the Branches have registered a formal failure to agree with senior management, 5% have threatened industrial action and a third of respondents, 2.5% (1 branch only) has registered a trade dispute with management. 11% have observed processes of opposition amongst academic staff in their institution outside the union channels. The level of resistance through the union was similar across pre and post-92 universities.
• A third of the institutions in the sample indicated an intent to review their existing LC policy in response to the pandemic-related changes, whilst 45% of the Branches were actively seeking changes in the existing policies since the start of the pandemic.
Case studies via semi-structured interviews
• Academics and union concerns with regards to LC policy and practice alongside the transition to online teaching covered areas of professional autonomy with regards to the decision to record, usage of recordings alongside Intellectual Property Rights (IP Rights), Performer’s rights (PR), Moral Rights (MR) and GDRP right as well as pedagogical concerns. Concerns were more severe in the institutions with opt-out policies and during the pandemic. These concerns were present in equal measure pre and post-92 institutions.
• Data analysis identified three broad patterns of managerial and professional power relations in three categories: 1. Strong union with good union-management relations; 2. Weak or strong union branches but with poor management – union relationships. 3. Ambivalent cases: mixed union-management history with mixed managerial practices. The patterns cut across pre and post-92 institutional types.
• The general patterns of power relations, previous history, and the context of the pandemic were found to shape academic responses and resistance in particular to LC policies and the changes introduced during the pandemic-related transition to online teaching.
• Findings discuss processes of collectivisation of individual acts of resistance and the development of a resistance subject in one institutional context.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Higher Education; managerialism; power; resistance; technology; lecture capture; New Public Management; academic professionalism; resistance and autonomy; lecture capture technology; Covid-related shift to online teaching
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
L Education > L Education (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2024 09:10

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics