Not All Managers Are Managerial: A Self-Evaluation of Women Middle-Managers’ Experiences in a UK University

The focus of this small-scale self-evaluation is the implementation of a new middle-management role in a post-92 UK university. A realist appreciative inquiry was undertaken with five women who had been promoted to a middle-management role 18 months prior to the inquiry. This evaluation for knowledge offered an opportunity to reflect on experiences in practice and sought to understand the experiences of the women in this role and how they cope with the challenges middle-management brings. Particular challenges (instability-generating) accorded with existing literature and included: lack of role clarity, lack of pre-preparation for management role, colleagues’ views of management, including perceptions of women in management roles and malicious intent of managed academics in rare cases. Supportive factors (provisional-stability-generating) included: personal resilience, informal peer support, external support and reflection. The co-evaluators offered reflections for the future from this co-evaluation. These suggest that training may contribute to provisional-stability in role and should be considered for new entrants to middle-management. The alternative construct of humanistic management is proposed as a way of understanding these women’s values-based decision-making practices in complex situations.

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Acknowledgements

The author acknowledges the support of academic staff on the Doctoral Programme in Higher Education Research, Evaluation and Enhancement at Lancaster University from which this publication has arisen http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/educational-research/phd/phd-in-higher-education-research,-evaluation-and-enhancement/.

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Correspondence to Madi Ruby.

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Ruby, M. Not All Managers Are Managerial: A Self-Evaluation of Women Middle-Managers’ Experiences in a UK University. High Educ Policy (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41307-018-0119-3

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Keywords

  • women
  • middle-management
  • managerialism
  • humanistic management
  • higher education