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Danish universities under transformation: Developments in staff categories as indicator of organizational change

Abstract

Claims of fundamental changes of the organizational model of universities have been widespread during the latest decades. To empirically assess the character and extent of organizational change is however not straightforward. This article contributes with partial, but also very tangible evidence of long-term organizational changes at Danish universities by analyzing detailed data on staff composition and salary distributions. The article shows that Danish universities indeed have undergone significant transformations, but that the full extent of these changes only becomes visible when a fine-grained analytical approach is employed. On the academic side of the organizations, relatively low-wage temporary positions have boomed at the expense of more expensive permanent ones. On the administrative side, specialized and highly educated administrative staff has surged substantially, while less expensive positions such as clerks, technicians, and service staff conversely have diminished in relative terms. Hence, while the analysis supports the overall claims in the literature, it also adds important nuances to the dominant narratives of organizational change.

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Notes

  1. In Denmark, collective agreements regulating individual positions form a good indicator for educational background. They rigidly separate those with a master-level degree from those without. The latter group usually holds a vocational education and gives on-the-job training higher priority.

  2. Top 10 most used job titles with no less than 400 FTEs from 1999 to 2017

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Appendices

Appendix 1. Staff thesaurus

A fully expandable thesaurus over the multi-level staff categories can be provided by request to the corresponding author.

This thesaurus extends down to separate job titles accounting for at least five full-time equivalents during the period under examination (n = 895). To indicate the relative weight of (sub-)categories and job titles, the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) for the full period is displayed next to the name:

  • Category/title name | number of FTEs

Figure 9 is an explanatory snapshot of the thesaurus with the various levels colored.

Fig. 9
figure 9

Explanatory snapshot of thesaurus

Appendix 2. Full 22-category level

The full 22-category level includes academic and student sub-categories. We draw upon these developments in the “Macro trends in the staff composition at Danish universities” section.

Fig. 10
figure 10

Change in number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) between 1999 and 2017 by sub-categories. The length of the bars shows change in full-time equivalents in absolute numbers. The numbers next to the bars show growth rate in percentages and change in share of total in percentage points

Appendix 3. Frequently used job titles

Tables 4, 5, and 6 show a side-by-side comparison of the most frequently used job titles within the same-named sub-categories of “clerks” and “degree-holding professionals.” These sub-categories are “administrative managers and head of units,” “administrative officers,” and “consultants and coordinators.”

Table 4 Managers and head of units
Table 5 Administrative officers
Table 6 Consultants and coordinators

In Table 4, the number of full-time equivalents for each job title during the full period from 1999 to 2017 is displayed in brackets. We delimit the most frequently job titles to the top 10 most used job titles with no less than 400 FTEs in total during the 19 years. Below the top 10 list, we briefly summarize the residual job titles.

Appendix 4. Salary distributions across staff categories

While the violin plot (Fig. 7) shows the relative change in composition, it does not convey changes in absolute numbers. The Fig. 11 below shows the absolute salary distributions and the variation between the six staff categories. In terms of salary, the figure lays out the hierarchy both within and between the staff categories.

Fig. 11
figure 11

Salary distribution across staff categories

Appendix 5. Salary across sub-categories

Table 7 Salary in thousands (DKK) across staff sub-categories

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Stage, A.K., Aagaard, K. Danish universities under transformation: Developments in staff categories as indicator of organizational change. High Educ 78, 629–652 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-019-00362-y

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Keywords

  • Staff composition
  • Salary distribution
  • Universities as organizations
  • Non-academic professionals
  • Organizational change
  • University administration