"Systemic Managerial Constraints": How universities influence the information behaviour of HSS early career academics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the information behaviour of early career academics (ECAs) within humanities and social sciences (HSS) disciplines who are starting their first continuing academic position. The proposed grounded theory of Systemic Managerial Constraints (SMC) is introduced as a way to understand the influence of neoliberal universities on the information behaviour of ECAs. Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative research used constructivist grounded theory methodology. Participants were 20 Australian and Canadian ECAs from HSS. Their information practices and information behaviour were examined for a period of five to seven months using two interviews and multiple “check-ins”. Data were analysed through two rounds of coding, where codes were iteratively compared and contrasted. Findings: SMC emerged from the analysis and is proposed as a grounded theory to help better understand the context of higher education and its influence on ECAs’ information behaviour. SMC presents university managerialism, resulting from neoliberalism, as pervasive and constraining both the work ECAs do and how they perform that work. SMC helps to explain ECAs’ uncertainty and precarity in higher education and changing information needs as a result of altered work role, which, in turn, leads ECAs to seek and share information with their colleagues and use information to wield their personal agency to respond to SMC. Originality/value: The findings from this paper provide a lens through which to view universities as information environments and the influence these environments can have on ECAs’ information practices and information behaviour.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Documentation
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Mar 2018

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academic career
Social sciences
social science
Education
university
Information use
Lenses
grounded theory
methodology
neoliberalism
qualitative research
coding
education
Uncertainty
uncertainty

Keywords

  • neoliberalism
  • higher education
  • information behaviour
  • humanities
  • early career academics

Cite this

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title = "{"}Systemic Managerial Constraints{"}: How universities influence the information behaviour of HSS early career academics",
abstract = "The purpose of this paper is to explore the information behaviour of early career academics (ECAs) within humanities and social sciences (HSS) disciplines who are starting their first continuing academic position. The proposed grounded theory of Systemic Managerial Constraints (SMC) is introduced as a way to understand the influence of neoliberal universities on the information behaviour of ECAs. Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative research used constructivist grounded theory methodology. Participants were 20 Australian and Canadian ECAs from HSS. Their information practices and information behaviour were examined for a period of five to seven months using two interviews and multiple “check-ins”. Data were analysed through two rounds of coding, where codes were iteratively compared and contrasted. Findings: SMC emerged from the analysis and is proposed as a grounded theory to help better understand the context of higher education and its influence on ECAs’ information behaviour. SMC presents university managerialism, resulting from neoliberalism, as pervasive and constraining both the work ECAs do and how they perform that work. SMC helps to explain ECAs’ uncertainty and precarity in higher education and changing information needs as a result of altered work role, which, in turn, leads ECAs to seek and share information with their colleagues and use information to wield their personal agency to respond to SMC. Originality/value: The findings from this paper provide a lens through which to view universities as information environments and the influence these environments can have on ECAs’ information practices and information behaviour.",
keywords = "neoliberalism, higher education, information behaviour, humanities, early career academics",
author = "Rebekah Willson",
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