Human Resource practitioners as change agents: Neoliberalism and the shift in power in the UK Higher Education

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Profound changes sweeping through the higher education sector have intensified under the Coalition government with its aim to make the sector more efficient and diverse. The introduction of a new funding system for higher education requires students to pay higher tuition fees and signals a shift from higher education as a public investment to a private one. These changes align with broader shifts in higher education that have seen the sector become progressively more market orientated and consumer driven. There is a question raise here regarding the role of power for academics and professionals in the UK Higher education sector. The impact of higher tuition fees on students and the sector has been well documented; similarly there is a broad and growing literature on the impact of marketisation on academics. However, less well explored is the role of senior university administrators and HR professionals in response to these changes. Based on interviews with some HR practitioners in UK Higher education, this paper focuses on HR professionals and their perspectives to their role in contributing to change in the HE sector. The research findings suggest that HR practitioners do support attempts to re-orientate their institutions towards a top-down form of organisation, which would privilege high level objectives and efficiency (thus following the prescriptions of the New Public Management movement). This implies a move away from a more traditional view of universities as discursive and participatory organisations, where effectiveness is regarded as meeting the varied needs of stakeholders, such as academics, students and the wider society, in a balanced way. There is also a clear desire from the practitioners to see HRM become more ‘proactive’ in terms of propose changes to higher education. However, there is clearly some ‘ambiguity’ in terms of what is considered a desirable role for HRM. However, whilst the HRM professionals largely favour such a shift, they acknowledge limitations to the extent that is practical or even entirely desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2015
EventThe 9th International Conference in Critical Management Studies, Is there an alternative? Management after critique - University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 201510 Jul 2015
http://www2.le.ac.uk/conference/cms15

Conference

ConferenceThe 9th International Conference in Critical Management Studies, Is there an alternative? Management after critique
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLeicester
Period8/07/1510/07/15
Internet address

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