The Rise of the Professional Staff in Chilean Public Universities. An Analysis through the Lens of University Models

Master's Thesis, 2019

114 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

1.1 Purpose, rationale and scope of the study
1.2. Research questions
1.3. Structure

2.2. Explaining change through the lens of university models
Why focus on the organisation?
The entrepreneurial university and the legacies of the Latin American university model
The shifting meaning of the public university
2.3. Theoretical implications: the co-existence of models and the relevance of intra-organisational dynamics and actors
The challenge of conceptualising co-existing university models
Intra-organisational dynamics and actors
2.4. The changing nature of work in universities
Managerialism and collegiality in light of the entrepreneurial transformation
The rise of the professional and the changes in the academic profession
Who are they and what does the professional staff do?

Selection of study cases
3.2. Primary data
Selected functional areas and the recruitment of participants
The participants: main features
Interview structure and steps of analysis
3.3. Limits and ethical concerns
Limits: an exploratory study

4.1. General features
Coordination, autonomy and the funding structure of the Chilean HES
Segmentation and the relevance of public universities
Particularities in the Latin American context
4.2. Governmental policies
The MECESUP programme and the World Bank
The 2014-2018 higher education reforms

5.1. The university governance and the rise of the professional staff
5.1. The government as a driver of change
The quality assurance framework and MECESUP
CORFO and the “New Engineering 2030” Programme
5.2. The university as a driver of change
Teaching and learning
Equity and inclusion
5.3. The professional staff as a driver of change

6.1. The central role of the university in triggering and articulating change
6.2. Towards a balanced approximation of the co-existence of university models
6.3. The perspectives of the professional staff: the missing drivers
6.4. Concluding remarks



The nature of work in higher education institutions is changing, in parallel to the deep transformations that the university as a whole is undergoing. Not only the academic profession is changing, but also a new group of professionals is rising. This professional staff works in functional areas where the boundaries between the academic and management sphere have become fuzzy. In developed countries, much of these transformations have been explained using as point of departure the university's entrepreneurial transformation. Yet, how can these transformations be explained in the Latin American context?

This dissertation aims at shedding light on the drivers that explain the rise of the professional staff in Chile's leading public universities. Analytically, this phenomenon is explored through the lens of university models. It will be argued that the rise of the professional staff has to be positioned within the tensions originated by the co-existence of two models, that is to say, the entrepreneurial model, on the one hand, and the legacies of the Latin American model, on the other hand.

Methodologically, this investigation adopts a qualitative case study research design. Based on interviews and official documentation, this study explores different functional areas of the university - from innovation to equity and inclusion - focusing on the interplay between the university and external actors and forces as well as on intra-organisational dynamics and the perspectives of the professional staff.

The findings corroborate ideas advanced by other scholars regarding the limits of the entrepreneurial transformation and the importance of taking into account the legacies of the Latin American university model. Equally, the relevance of the university as a central actor in shaping change and supporting the expansion or emergence of established and new functional areas, which allows the rise of the professional staff, should be acknowledged.


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1.1 Purpose, rationale and scope of the study

Together with the changing nature of work in higher education institutions, the university as a whole is undergoing deep transformations. Across the world, the traditional university models based on organisational forms, values and practices rooted in the ideals of Wilhelm von Humboldt (Lauer, 2017), Henry Newman (Turner, 1996), the Napoleonic university (Anderson, 2006) or the Argentine university reforms of 1918 (Tunnermann, 2010) have being challenged (Arocena & Sutz, 2005; Bernasconi, 2005, 2008a; Bleiklie, 1998; Brunner, 2014; Pineda, 2015). Especially in countries where universities have become strongly embedded into the logics of the neoliberal market model (Marginson, 2010), the entrepreneurial model (Clark, 1998) has been widely used as the conceptual starting point to explain the university’s transformation and the changing nature of work in higher education (HE).

Indeed, in these countries the state has reduced the public funding, making universities more dependent on tuition fees, private funding and competitive grants. This, in a context in which the university has to respond to new challenges. From compulsory quality assurance frameworks to the improvement of the teaching and learning; and from the strengthening of the ties to industry to the university's international expansion. These are just a few examples of the university’s new functional areas that have emerged or significantly expanded over the last years. Remarkably, in these areas the boundaries between the academic and the administrative sphere have become fuzzy, which has created a new hybrid space. This has not only contributed to significant changes in the academic profession, but it has also led to the rise of new type of professionals that work in that hybrid space and contribute to the development of both consolidated and emerging university functions (Kehm, 2015a; Whitchurch, 2008).

Consequently, the topic of the rise of the professional staff has gained an increased attention in developed higher education systems, but it has been less explored in the Latin American context. Thus, it is the aim of this study to shed light on the drivers that explain the rise of the professional staff in one particular Latin American country, Chile, focusing on the leading public institutions.

In that regard, the question that arises is why to study the Chilean case? First, from a systemic perspective, higher education has become one of the most dynamic and contested fields in Chilean society. Since the reforms that triggered the HE's privatisation in 1981 - under military rule - the system has advanced towards the consolidation of a neoliberal market model (Brunner, 2015; Ferreyra, Avitabile, Alvarez, Haimovich Paz, & Urzua, 2017; José M. Salazar & Leihy, 2017; Torres & Schugurensky, 2002). In parallel, the tertiary education enrolment rates have rapidly expanded (UNESCO - UIS, 2018), which has made the Chilean HES a model to follow for other countries in the region (Torres & Schugurensky, 2002). Nowadays, however, and after years of massive student protests (Cabalin, 2012), the well-established market model has been disrupted by a series of eclectic reforms. Among them, the most relevant is the 2016 reform that partially abolished tuition fees.

Secondly, and in that context, it should not surprise that Chilean public universities have undergone important transformations over the last decades. In that regard, Bernasconi (2005, 2006, 2008a, 2011b) and Clark (2004a, 2004b) refer to Chilean universities as exemplary cases of entrepreneurialism. Yet, other scholars have challenged this assumption, remarking the persistence of traditional organisational features, values and practices that represent the legacies of the Latin American university model (Balbachevsky, 2015; Pineda, 2015).

Given these tensions, how can the rise of the professional staff in Chilean public universities be explained? Through the lens of which model can this phenomenon be conceptualised? Simplifying, is this trend a consequence of the entrepreneurial transformation, market forces and managerial approaches or - on the contrary - does this trend respond to the legacies of the Latin American university model, its social mission and traditional academic and collegial values?

This study will approach these questions concentrating on the university as the central actor, analysing different functional areas, paying special attention to the interplay of external drivers (e.g. governmental policies) and the university, while shedding light on intra-organisational drivers by emphasising the perspective of the professionals themselves. By doing so, this investigation aims at presenting the rise of the professional staff as a dynamic process that can be positioned amid the co-existence of different university models.

Regarding the research design, this study will mainly explore the transformations that have taken place at the University of Chile (Universidad de Chile, UCH) and the P. Catholic University (Pontificia Universidad Catolica, PUC). By choosing these leading public institutions, the findings of this study might also shed light on similar transformations that are occurring in other comprehensive and research-intensive Latin American universities.

Furthermore, in a broader context, this study aims at contributing to the discussion on the relevance of public universities and the scope and implications of their transformations. In that regard, despite the global trends and similarities across different countries, some transformation may have distinctive features in different geographical contexts. In other words, although the entrepreneurial transformation and the rise of the professional staff is observable in different countries, it is important to identify the local particularities.

1.2. Research questions

Having presented the purpose, rationale and scope of this dissertation, the main research question that guides this investigation is:

- Which are the drivers that explain the rise of the professional staff in Chile’s leading public universities?
In relation to this, the following secondary questions will be addressed:
- Where can these drivers be found? In particular, what role play environmental forces, such as governmental policies or the market, vis-â-vis the university?
- How to understand the rise of the professional staff in view of the co-existence of the entrepreneurial and the Latin American university models and the divergent organisational features, values and practices that sustain them?
- Finally, focusing on the professionals themselves, how do they explain and promote the professionalisation of different functional areas of the university?

1.3. Structure

This study is divided into the following six chapters: The second chapter will present the literature review and the analytical framework; the third chapter will explain the research design and methods used; the fourth chapter will examine more closely key aspects of the Chilean HES; the fifth chapter, will present the findings and the analysis, exploring different functional areas of the university. Finally, in the sixth chapter, these findings are discussed while the concluding remarks close this dissertation.


The main aim of this chapter is to discuss key conceptual aspects in order to construct an analytical framework that will guide the approximation to the research questions. This chapter has three subsections. The first two subsections concentrate mainly on conceptual elements that build the analytical framework. In the first subsection, the idea of the university models and the divergent models in the Latin American context will be presented.

The second subsection will delve into the implications of the co-existence of models and how to understand the dynamics of change. In the third subsection, the literature review will focus on the changing nature of work in higher education. It will present the tensions that arise between managerialism and collegiality, the shifting meaning of the public university as well as the rise of the professional staff and their main roles.

The analytical framework developed next follows a logic that presents and contrasts literature from different geographical regions, concentrating especially on the Anglo-Saxon countries, Europe and Latin America.

2.2. Explaining change through the lens of university models

Why focus on the organisation?

In order to approach the research questions, this study takes as its analytical starting point the meso-level of the higher education system, that is to say, the university. This will be conceptualised through the lens of university models, an approach that provides a framework that allows a better understanding of the structures and values in which professionals and academics are embedded. Moreover, university models also make it possible to capture the interplay between the university and its environment as well as intra-organisational dynamics. Very important in the idea of university models is that they constitute both a "model of” and a "model for” the university. Bernasconi (2008a) explains in that regard:

"A model of the university is a stylized representation of reality. It distils the variety of actual forms of the university in an abstract and general construct, a concept of the university as it exists in the minds of faculty, students, administrators, and other constituencies and is expressed in their discourse about the university. At the same time, a model is a set of instructions for action, a patterned way of doing things. In this case it refers to going about organizing, governing, and operating a university and being an administrator, a professor, or a student” (p. 29).

From that perspective, university models are not only ideal types constructed by the researcher in Weber's terms (see e.g. Cahnman, 1965) but also a "model for” that resides in the minds of the actors, thus influencing their actions.

What follows is that a focus on university models and the organisation can "bring new insights in higher education analysis (...) An organizational approach could integrate and combine structural, cultural and practice- related factors” (Fumasoli & Stensaker, 2013, p. 482). In other words, such an approximation has an integrative strength vis-a-vis other explanatory approaches.

In that regard, different authors have identified similar but not exactly the same drivers when explaining the rise of the professional staff in Anglo­Saxon and European countries. Kehm (2015a) identifies as drivers the emergence of knowledge societies, the diversification of tasks and functions of higher education institutions, and internationalisation (p.196); Szekeres (2004) situates that development within four contexts and discourses, namely managerialism, corporatisation, marketisation, and quality assurance; and Rhoades and Sporn (2002) mention devolution, accountability, entrepreneurialism and massification as conditions that explain the change of management models. In relation to this, two aspects shall be noted. First, as noted by Gornitzka and Larsen (2004) "virtually all of these factors can be argued to have played a role in restructuring the administrative work force” (p.467) and, secondly, these aspects are located at different levels of the HES. Some of them, such as the emergence of knowledge societies, are major socio-economic and global trends, whereas quality assurance frameworks are located at the interface between the government and the university.

In that regard, it is important to note that approaching the research questions focusing on the organisation and conceptualising the university through models does not exclude these drivers. On the contrary, as it will be developed throughout this chapter, this analytical approach also comprises these aspects, but it brings these sometimes atomistic and unconnected explanations under an overarching conceptual framework that can be applied to explain a particular issue, in this case, the rise of the professional staff. Hence, through this analytical approximation, the university with its transformations is positioned in relationship to both external actors and forces - mainly the state and the market, but also global trends - and the university and its structures, values and internal actors, thus avoiding a disarticulated or too broad explanation of change in the HES.

Another important aspect is that the discussion on university models does not only involve the debate on the nature of the university and its transformation, but it also refers to the university's agency vis-a-vis the state, the market or society. Therefore, in choosing an approach that focus on the university, it becomes evident that one of the assumptions that underpins this study is the university's capability of triggering transformations and dealing with external pressures, a feature that has been described as a major contribution of Burton Clark’s works (Fumasoli & Stensaker, 2013, p. 480; Rhoades & Stensaker, 2017, p. 136), although it has to be mentioned that the university's "actorhood” has been relativised by other scholars (e.g. Huisman, 2016). The next section will deepen the discussion on university models.

The entrepreneurial university and the legacies of the Latin American university model

Clark's entrepreneurial university model (Clark, 1998, 2004b, 2004a) has arisen as one of the most influential ideas for describing and promoting organisational change, especially in Europe but also in Latin America. Indeed, Clark's "concept of entrepreneurialism - despite its many potential meanings - has become a much used reference and point of departure to describe the different facets and forms of transformation taking place in the university” (Rhoades & Stensaker, 2017, p. 133), although much of its elements already existed in the United States (Marginson, 2016, p. 38; Stensaker & Benner, 2013). Clark's (1998) entrepreneurial university comprises an "expanded developmental periphery "that reach[es] across old university boundaries to link up with outside organisations and groups”, achieved through a "strengthened steering core”, a "diversifying funding basis” and an "integrated entrepreneurial culture” (p.6).

In fact, entrepreneurialism has transformed the traditional university, challenging the ideals that sustained the European University and especially Humboldt’s principles (Bleiklie, 1998; Maassen & Olsen, 2007; Sam & van der Sijde, 2014; Stensaker & Benner, 2013). Similarly, in Latin America, the traditional Latin American university model that emerged from the 1918 reforms that took place in Cordoba, Argentina, has been reshaped by the influence of the entrepreneurial model (Arocena & Sutz, 2005; Balbachevsky, 2015; Bernasconi, 2005, 2006, 2008a, 2011b, Brunner, 2011,2014; Pineda, 2015).

To understand the impact of entrepreneurialism in Latin America, some features of the Latin American university model shall be outlined. In 1918, the students of the Universidad de Cordoba, Argentina, launched a manifesto that led to significant university reforms, not only in Argentina. The influence of these reforms had a long-lasting impact in many Latin American countries, changing the university's relationship with the state and society. Probably the most important achievement of the Cordoba movement was the recognition of the university's autonomy, which involves political, administrative, pedagogical and financial matters. Significantly, this autonomy is understood in terms of the academic freedom but also in relation to the strengthening of the university's autonomous rule by its academics and students (Tunnermann, 2010). In that regard, the participation of students in the university’s governing bodies was also seen as "as a tool for accomplishing a new social mission: to promote the democratization of society” (Arocena & Sutz, 2005, p. 575). Thus, the university encouraged by the reforms should fulfil the missions of teaching, research and "extension” (usually referred to in English as the outreach mission). The latter has acquired different forms but it is commonly related to the university's social mission and the commitment to the poorest social sectors.

As a whole, the reforms aimed at overcoming the colonial legacies, traditionalism, religious doctrines and the influence of the Napoleonic university. Evidently, not all the aims were achieved and substantial differences can be found across Latin America. In particular, regarding the development of research capabilities the balance is mixed, not least because of the persistence of organisational structures that difficult the development of research activities. Even today, many public universities are organised as a confederation of professional schools, a legacy of the Napoleonic university model (Arocena & Sutz, 2005, p. 576).

Since the Cordoba reforms, and in the course of hundred years, the access to HE has become massified and the HES has diversified (notably, catholic and for-profit universities have been established) alongside drastic changes in the political and economic conditions. In that regard, Bernasconi (2008a) asks "what, if anything, is left of the Latin American idea of the university? Has a new model emerged?” (p.28). In relation to the particular case of Chile, Bernasconi (2005, 2006, 2008a, 2011b) and Clark (2004b, 2004a) have emphasised the expansion of entrepreneurialism in Chile which, in their view, has almost completely displaced the traditional Latin American university model.

However, despite the undeniable influence of entrepreneurialism in reshaping the most important public Latin American universities, different scholars have stressed the limits of this transformation, emphasising the co­existence of models.

In his book, Pineda (2015) addresses the cases of Chile and Colombia. His argument does not deny the (voluntarily and forcefully) entrepreneurial transformation of Latin American universities, but it challenges Bernasconi’s and Clark's position by arguing that the university’s social mission is deeply rooted in Latin American universities as part of the “extension” or outreach mission (Pineda, 2015, pp. 31-38), thus differing from the links to business as described by Clark1. Arguing similarly, but focusing on the academic career, Balbachevsky (2015) casts doubts on the entrepreneurial convergence and stresses the traditional values and attitudes sustained by the academic staff (see section 2.4). Nonetheless, both Pineda and Balbachevsky agree on the fact that there has been a real though limited entrepreneurial transformation. From a different perspective, Brunner (2011) also stresses the limitations of the entrepreneurial transformation remarking the negative legacies of the Latin American university model, which he considers to be over-beaurocratised or, to put it differently, under-managed in an entrepreneurial sense.

Therefore, despite the evident advance of the entrepreneurial model, the legacies of the traditional Latin American university are still present.

These tensions have practical implications. Pineda (2015) stresses the influence of these models on the university and its members:

"the symbolic influence of abstract global and regional cross-national models of organization, represented by the entrepreneurial and Latin American university models, configure the higher educational landscape.

That is, university administrators, academic, and students provoke or hinder change through the adoption of scripts related to these broader representations of universities’ role and form or organization” (p. 219).

As it will be discussed next, one of the aspects associated with the divergent models is related to the definition of public higher education.

The shifting meaning of the public university

At this point, it is important to note that in the Chilean context the discussion on university models has to be framed within another debated related to the role of public universities2. In fact, for the Chilean case, the definition of what a public university is involves a significant degree of ambiguity. As noted by Guzman-Valenzuela (2016), the definition varies according to the context. She states that the concept of "public” is different in systems where the university is mainly funded and regulated by the state than:

"in countries where neoliberal policies have gained traction and privatization is significant (USA, UK and Chile, for example) [In these countries,] the conceptualization of public universities is fuzzy since both state and private universities exhibit a hybrid funding pattern (involving both state and private sources)” (p. 668).

As this dissertation focuses on public institutions, it seems particularly important to mention the fact that the Chilean state provides very limited direct funding to public institutions. This has manifestly contributed to the entrepreneurial transformation, but has it also fundamentally redefined the university's public mission? In that regard, the funding structure of the institutions should not be seen as the only factor that determines the public or private nature of HE. Nonetheless, financial aspects definitely facilitate the entrepreneurial transformation, which is associated with business-oriented and revenue-generating activities, that is to say, objectives that understand education as a private good. In contrast to that, the university’s social mission can be understood in terms of the university’s contribution to the public sphere and the production of public goods, which can be seen as a legacy associated with the Latin American university model (Brunner, 2011; Guzman-Valenzuela, 2016).

However, Marginson (2007) argues that the traditional views that separate the public from the private do not properly describe the real nature of higher education systems. He stresses that "in the real world, the public and private elements are not necessarily zero sum [...] It is more useful to understand public and private as heterogeneous qualities, rather than as two sides of the same coin” (p. 310).

From that perspective, if the co-existence of public and private dimensions is possible, can the same be said regarding the university models? Which implications has this co-existence? This will be discussed next.

2.3. Theoretical implications: the co-existence of models and the relevance of intra-organisational dynamics and actors

The previous section has introduced the discussion on university models. In this section, this debate shall be treated more in-depth, paying especial attention to key theoretical implications. In particular, two aspects will be discussed, namely the implications of the co-existence of models (or hybridism) and the importance of intra-organisational dynamics and actors. These aspects will be approached from the standpoint of neo- institutionalist/archetype theory but including some perspectives from the critical realist theory. This, because critical realism pays more attention to actors and understands organisations as dynamic entities in which conflict is not the exception. Given the tensions caused by the co-existence of models, the inclusion of these different theoretical perspectives aims at refining the comprehension of what university models mean, the dynamics of change and some implications related to the research design. In doing so, this section follows Maassen's and Olsen's (2007) advice:

"Rather than purifying each model and pitting them against each other; rather than assuming that University dynamics can best be explained either with reference to changing environments or to internal processes; and rather than taking as given that explanatory frameworks must assume either consensus or conflict, the research challenge is to improve our understanding of how such processes interact, sometimes with unexpected consequences for both participants and on-lookers” (p.21).

That said, it makes sense to start the discussion mentioning again Clark's influential work. Fumasoli and Stensaker (2013) comment that Clark tended to:

"downplay factors such as power and politics [...] The picture portrayed is of institutions in a smooth constant changing mode, beyond the pressure of public reform, driven by intra-organizational self-reliance and characterize by certain degree of robustness. In such a framework, change is characterized as incremental and evolutionary” (p. 483).

In that regard, Fumasoli and Stensaker (2013) further argue that the neo-institutionalist/archetype theory provides a framework that combines the influence of environmental and structural factors with a focus on agency and intra-organisational processes (p. 489). Indeed, the neo- institutional/archetypal approach aims at explaining and improving the understanding of change in contrast to other (neo-) institutionalist approaches that are "weak in analysing the internal dynamics of organizational change. As a consequence, the theory is silent on why some organizations adopt radical change whereas others do not, despite experiencing the same institutional pressures” (Greenwood & Hinings, 1996, p. 1023).

Here, it is important to note that the definition of university model presented before is largely compatible with neo-institutional/archetypal theory. In other words, university models can also be defined in terms of a particular archetype. According to Greenwood and Hinings (1993), an "archetype is a set of structures and systems that reflects a single interpretative scheme” (p. 1052). That means that the patterns that define an organisational design are a function of the interpretive scheme, which is compounded by ideas, values and beliefs that are embodied in the organisation. What follows is that the archetype shapes "prevailing conceptions of what an organization should be doing [...] combined with structures and processes that serve to implement and reinforce those ideas” (1988, p. 295).

The challenge of conceptualising co-existing university models

One key assumption of the neo-institutionalist/archetypal theory is that models (or archetypes) are essentially coherent, which can also be seen in Clark's and Bernasconi's work. Greenwood and Hinings (1988) explain that archetypal coherence implies that the ideas and values are aligned with the structure, that is to say, that "[t]he essence of coherence is the relationship between interpretive schemes, structures and processes” (p. 310). Consequently, hybrid archetypes are referred to in terms of their "schizoid incoherence” and therefore seen a transitory situation or as part of "unresolved excursions”, that is, failed organisational change (p. 308).

In view of the discussion on the characteristics of the entrepreneurial transformation in Latin America and Chile, the question that arises is evident. How should the co-existence or competition between different university models be understood? In terms of a "schizoid incoherence” or rather as a permanent, possibly more conflictive, condition? And which implications has this co-existence for the rise of the professional staff?

In that relation, and notably in contrast to the neo- institutionalist/archetype approach, critical realist theory approaches "social structuring as a process which is continuously activity- dependent [and it] is also one which is uncontrolled, non-teleological, non-homeostatic, non­adaptive and therefore unpredictable” (Archer, 1995, p. 165). This means that co-existing or hybrid organisational forms are interpreted as "an ‘in built’ or normal feature of organizations” (Kirkpatrick & Ackroyd, 2003, p. 738).

Applied to higher education, the phenomenon of hybridisation has been described by Deem (1998) in terms of the co-existence of the university’s traditional elements with newer managerial orientations so that the "the hybridisation process itself is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies” (p.51). Co-existing or hybrid models have also been problematised through neo-institutionalist/archetype lens. Bruckmann & Carvalho (2018), in exploring governance changes in Portuguese universities, argue that the starting archetype of the "professional bureaucracy” and the more recent "managerialist archetype” have created a hybrid archetype, which they call the "efficient-collegiality archetype”. However, in line with the archetypal approach, they describe this new model not as a conflicting one, but as a coherent new archetype or "organisational model that institutional actors represent as combining managerial and democratic logics” (Bruckmann & Carvalho, 2018, pp. 644-645). In any case, these approximations to organisational change take distance from the bias towards institutional "isomorphism” or convergence that underpins Clark's and Bernasconi's approaches. In that regard, Deem et al. (2007b) define institutional isomorphism as the "irresistible cultural pressure generated by the dominant cultural values, policy priorities, and structural designs [that] forces individual organizations to conform to whatever a prevailing archetype demands” (p. 4).

Therefore, it is important to bear in mind that the transformations of the Latin American university should not be understood a priori as a trouble­free and smooth process that has led to the consolidation of a stable and coherent entrepreneurial model. On the contrary, it should be acknowledged that Latin American universities are better defined in terms of co-existing models, a condition that is probably permanent and comprises important tensions and conflicts.

Intra-organisational dynamics and actors

Another important aspect related to the explanation of organisational change refers to the importance of shedding light onto intra-organisational dynamics and actors. In that regard, although the neo- institutionalist/archetype approach recognises the importance of considering intra-organisational dynamics - a strength vis-a-vis Clark's traditional institutional approach as stressed by Fumasoli and Stensacker (2013) - critical realism pays more attention to actors, defining organisations as "that mechanism [that] transforms individual action into corporate agency by providing the collective resources and mechanisms that the latter requires to be sustained over time as a viable and effective social entity” (Reed, 2009, p. 303).

Furthermore, against the background of the co-existing models, it appears as particularly interesting to explore the intra-organisational dynamics of change and, therefore, how the professional staff defines their roles in shaping change in their own institution. This greater focus on the relevance of actors involves the recognition of the political dimension of their work. Whitchurch (2009) explains that this political role emerges when "when individuals [professionals] enter contested space and play a part in ‘the power struggle and battles that go on’”. Furthermore, because they are not seen as "attached to a specific agenda” since they work "in between”, they can use this condition to build a common ground with academics and professionals, bringing together different visions, for instance, regarding the development of the institution (p. 408). Similarly, Zahir (2010) sees professionals in the role of policy actors "who must continuously mediate and broker between competing coalitions and needs” in order to address "problems that cannot be solved within the existing structures and functions of bounded work” (p. 56).

These aspects have influenced the research design of this study, which pays significant attention to the perspectives of the professional staff, which are understood as relevant actors in explaining and shaping change.

2.4. The changing nature of work in universities

In this section, the attention moves from discussing theoretical aspects to presenting key elements related to the changing nature of work in HE. The first sub-section will combine the previous discussion on university models with the debate on managerialism and collegiality, while the second subsection will discuss the rise of the professional staff in relation to changes in the academic profession. The third subsection aims at finding a common terminology to define the professional staff and presents its main roles.

Managerialism and collegiality in light of the entrepreneurial transformation

In order to introduce the discussion on the changing nature of work in higher education, this subsection will focus on the meaning and implications of collegiality and managerialism, relating this debate to the university’s transformation.

Collegiality is deeply rooted in the thinking of scholars that have greatly contributed to shape the European university, such as Newman or Humboldt (Tight, 2014) and it is also a principle that underpins the Latin American university (Brunner, 2011). It should be seen as an ideal representation of reality that follows "the idea that decisions in universities and colleges can be made collectively by the academics affected, with the assistance and support of administrators” (Tight, 2014, p. 294). Similarly, in commenting the meanings of collegiality in relation to the governance and decision-making structures, Kligyte and Barrie (2014) argue that collegiality defines leadership as something collective that is achieved through expertise and consensus, while it can also be defined as a behavioural norm that shapes the culture of the organisation. This view of collegiality "focuses on the ‘service’ or ‘administration’ aspects of an academic role” (p. 161) and the ability to work respectfully with other colleagues towards common goals.

What follows is that collegiality has been systematically eroded by the strengthening of managerial practices within the university, a trend that has been related to the university’s entrepreneurial transformation. Yet, a brief analysis may shed light on some important nuances.

In Chile, like in the Anglo-Saxon countries, the university's entrepreneurial transformation can be located alongside the consolidation of what Marginson (2012) has called the neoliberal market model, which comprises the "hybrid set of organisational practices” promoted by the New Public Management (NPM) and the "full economic commercialisation” of education (p.354). These elements are also present in the definition of managerialism proposed by Santiago and Carvalho (2004):

"[Managerialism] combines political, institutional and organizational assumptions with principles of rationality that apparently do not seem to be organized, but in which it is possible to detect some coherence around the notions of market, competition, individual choice, responsibility and efficiency” (p. 427-428).

In that regard, the NPM has played a major role in strengthening managerialism in the HES. In referring to the re-structuration of the British system - but it could also apply to the Chilean context - Deem et al (2007a) explain its effects:

‘[It] has narrowed the focus and scope of the ‘public domain’ by justifying the much more extensive use of market-based resource allocation mechanisms and the managerial control regimes that they require to operate effectively within institutional environments in which ‘competition’, rather than ‘collaboration’, has become the dominant cultural imperative” (p. 4).

In that regard, it should be remarked that different scholars emphasise the interplay of managerialism and organisational restructuring, the commercialisation of education and transformations that occur at different levels of the HES. In that context and especially because of the increasing need to self-generate revenues is that universities "engage in more market­like behaviour, their professional workforce and its relation to organizational management are changing” (Rhoades, 2016, p. 205). In that regard, Bleiklie (1998) has noted that "leadership functions and administrative structures are strengthened (...) against representative bodies. They assume more and more responsibilities” (p. 308)

At this point, the parallels between the managerial and the entrepreneurial transformations become evident. Clark’s entrepreneurial university and its "expanded developmental periphery” and "strengthened steering core” can be very good interpreted as transformations that underpin the strengthening of managerialism within the institution, thus generating "new control regimes” that operate against the traditional collegial values and representative bodies.

However, a simplistic understanding of the meaning of entrepreneurialism, as well as the organisational and cultural transformations involved, should be avoided. Clark clarifies that "entrepreneurialism in universities has to be seen as collegial entrepreneurialism” (Clark, 2001, p. 15). In that line of argumentation, Rhoades and Stensaker (2017) comment that Clark:

"understood entrepreneurialism not as a management posture, but rather as a deeper structural and cultural phenomenon that is embedded within and operates throughout the organisation [and] defines not simply the management of the enterprise, but senior academics as well” (p.131).

Nonetheless, although Clark (2001) explicitly rejects that the entrepreneurial transformation "commercialize universities and turn them into all-purpose shopping malls" (p. 10) it is impossible to detach the organisational features described by the entrepreneurial model from the consolidation of the market model and the adoption of managerial approaches and practices by the university3. Indeed, the next section will shed light on the impact of managerialism and entrepreneurialism in transforming the academic profession.

The rise of the professional and the changes in the academic profession

It is not possible to understand the rise of the professional staff without taking into account the changes in the academic profession. As mentioned in the previous section, these are linked to the university's transformation and the tensions that arise within the institution, which include the conflicts between managerialism and traditional collegial values and practices. In that regard, Rhoades and Slaughter (2010) argue that:

“[f]ull-time faculty will no longer be the craft workers with control of the entire production process. They will, instead, be piecework specialists. [Meanwhile] other professionals become increasingly important in defining the educational space and, indirectly (sometimes directly), in affecting the content. They also come to play a greater role in assessing the quality of faculty work, as in teaching and professional development centers that claim expertise in instruction and instructional innovation” (p.51)

According to that perspective, the emergence of a group of "other professionals” is seen as an interference into domains that were traditionally controlled by full-time academics, a point of view that basically reflects the "them and us” division between the academic and the professional staff (Dobson, 2000). As noted by Kehm (2015b) "[m]uch of the existing body of literature assumes that the emergence of HEPROs [higher education professionals] also entails a de-professionalisation of the academic profession and that this leads to conflicts” (p.108), which, however, depending on the professionals' functions is not always true. She adds that conflicts may arise between academics and professionals working in supporting institutional management as the former tend to see the later "as part of the bureaucratic and control mechanisms which they want to reduce in the name of academic freedom” (p. 108). In other words, in this situation the rise of the professional staff is seen as part of the consolidation process of managerial approaches in the university.


1 In the European context, these divergent types of third missions have been described as the “university civic links with the community” that stand in contrast to the “university-business links” (Culum, Roncevic, & Ledic, 2013, p. 173).

2 In that relation, the discussion on the higher education reforms implemented during the government of Michele Bachelet (2014-2018) involved the role of the public institutions (see section 4.2).

3 Moreover, the very concept of the entrepreneurial university may not be applicable to other contexts. Entrepreneurialism has, at least, a different undertone in the American context as it is “quintessential^ American in its conceptual framing of the risk-taking initiatives of leaders in the case study universities independently charting their own course in the higher education wilderness” (Rhoades & Stensaker, 2017, p. 131). In other regions of the world, however, the historical relationship between universities and the state differs. It is not the aim of this dissertation to fundamentally question the validity of translating concepts to other geographical areas. Yet, an assumption that guides this study is that widely used concepts should by critically approached before using them to explain transformations in other geographical contexts.

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The Rise of the Professional Staff in Chilean Public Universities. An Analysis through the Lens of University Models
University College London  (Institute of Education)
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Hochschulforschung, University Models, Professional staff, higher education studies, Chile, third space professionals
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Lautaro Vilches (Author), 2019, The Rise of the Professional Staff in Chilean Public Universities. An Analysis through the Lens of University Models, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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