Corporate reforms to Australian universities: views from the academic heartland
journal contributionposted on 05.06.2017, 03:18 by Winter, Richard, Sarros, James C.
This paper presents survey findings relating to academics' work attitudes, values and responses to corporate reforms within eight Australian universities. Academics (n= 1,041) responded to the Academic Work Environment Survey, a diagnostic questionnaire designed to examine the quality of academic work life within universities in Australia (Winter, Taylor, & Sarros, 2000). Academics indicated strong positive responses to items indicative of corporate reforms across the higher education sector (i.e., decreased public funding, rise of consumerism, business-related managerial practices, quality assurance mechanisms, appraisal systems), reported high levels of role overload (stress) and moderate levels of job involvement and organisational commitment. Value conflict statements indicated academics felt market behaviour mechanisms and business-related principles were compromising the primary goals of teaching, learning and scholarship and exerting a strong negative effect on academic morale and productivity. Role overload and work motivation responses suggested a perceived violation in the 'psychological contract' between academics and their universities (work stress and poor recognition and rewards practices are cited as evidence of contract violation). The paper concludes by discussing the types of university leadership and work structures needed to reduce value conflict in academe and build trust between academics and university managers.