Who Is in Charge? Internal Differences on Perceived Organisational Power of Portuguese Academics

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Teresa CARVALHO, University of Aveiro and CIPES, Portugal
Portuguese higher education reforms, inspired by New Public Management, promoted changes at the system and institutional level with a reconfiguration of the collegial regime towards a more corporate and entrepreneurial-like system. The decline of the importance of collegial and democratic bodies in the decision-making is said to decrease professionals’ power within Higher Education Institutions. Several studies on governance and professionals’ power have been developed to attest this. However, these studies tend to look at academics as a single and homogeneous profession neglecting important variables as the type of institution, the generation and gender. The purpose of this paper is to overcome this gap by analysing the internal differences of Portuguese academics’ perceptions of organisational power. The study is empirically based on data deriving from an on-line survey administrated to all Portuguese academics (with 1320 valid responses). Survey’s results were analysed according to the type of institution (new and old universities); generation (based in three age groups: the youngest generation- from 22 to 35 years; the middle generation- from 36 to 49 years; and the oldest generation - from 50 to 70 years), and gender (women and men).

Data analysis reveals that the type of institution does not affect the perceptions of organizational power but there are relevant differences based on generation and gender. Youngest generations and women tend to consider having less influence in shaping institutional policies at the department, faculty and top management levels and tend to perceive more frequently institutional top managers and units’ managers as the more powerful actors. These findings reveal that to understand how professional power change in the organizational context it is important to look at the internal differences in professional groups.