Original Research

Institutional culture and academic career progression: Perceptions and experiences of academic staff

Nina Barnes, Marieta du Plessis, José Frantz
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1878 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1878 | © 2021 Nina Barnes, Marieta du Plessis, José Frantz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2021 | Published: 17 September 2021

About the author(s)

Nina Barnes, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa
Marieta du Plessis, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa
José Frantz, Department of Physiotherapy, DVC Research and Innovation, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The South African higher education system is highly dependent on institutional cultures to enable the progression of academics with the aim to unlock the research potential of the country. Institutional cultures are directed by the values, practices and behaviours of its members.

Research purpose: Establish and present, from the academics’ point of view, the values, practices and behaviours that facilitate an enabling institutional culture, which supports the career progression of academic staff.

Motivation for the study: A comprehensive and deeper understanding of any higher education institutional culture requires analysis beyond the structural elements and established procedures of the institution. An understanding of how individuals interpret their environment, to support their career progression, is equally important.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative, phenomenological approach was followed, through individual, semi-structured interviews with 17 academics, across all career phases.

Main findings: An institutional culture in support of academic career progression includes three major values of: equity and inclusion, an ethic of care and collaboration, that are interconnected to practices such as performance management, a career management system, a comprehensive induction and orientation, a collaborative structure, remuneration, as well as resources and support, together with behaviours, comprising the articulation of team values, alignment of individual and institutional values, as well as a systemic approach.

Practical/managerial implications: Understanding the values, practices and behaviours within the context of higher education offers leaders and talent management practitioners the necessary factors to consider as they grapple to understand a culture that enables the career progression of academic staff.

Contribution/value-add: Deeper understanding, from the academics’ point of view, the values, practices and behaviours that facilitate an enabling institutional culture, which supports the career progression of academic staff.


Keywords

enabling culture; institutional culture; career progression; higher education; academic career

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