How Academics from Different Disciplines Consume a University Strategic Plan in an Encounter
: A Critical Discursive Psychology Analysis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research explores how science and humanities academics from an Alliance group university consume a strategic plan in an encounter. The research uses a Critical Discursive Psychology approach to analyse narrative style interviews with nine science academics and nine humanities academics. The analysis identifies two dominant interpretative repertoires of Grandiosity and Corporatization. These repertoires invoke the taking up of five different subject positions, Strategy Expert, Forgiver, Traditional Academic, New Public Management Academic and Believer. Academics move between different and sometimes, conflicting subject positions. In relation to these conflicting subject positions movements, an ideological dilemma between traditional academia and new public management academia is discerned. The analysis categorizes the academics into four groups relating to whether they have an ideological dilemma and the tactics that they use to manage their identity. These four groups are Conflicted, Conflicted but Earnest, Instrumental New Public Management and Naturalised New Public Management. All groups except the Naturalised New Public Management group use reparative identity work as a tactic to deal with the ideological dilemma. The Naturalised New Public Management group don’t have an ideological dilemma and they use growth and maintenance identity work. The analysis reveals that the humanities academics are more likely to have an ideological dilemma than the science academics. The Naturalised New Public Management group is a new type of academic subjectivity which has a tolerance for grandiosity and corporatization. The analysis also shows the subject position shifts for individuals more explicitly than current identity work literature. The research method employed extends current use of the Critical Discursive Psychology approach in its use of subject position notation and the cataloguing of subject position movements for the whole sample. This reveals the process by which academics resolve the ideological dilemma, where it exists. The research concludes by recommending that the writing of strategic plans in HE should strike a balance between ambition and prudence and should celebrate all disciplines.
Date of Award16 Apr 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAlan Tait (Supervisor), Andreas Herbert Hoecht (Supervisor) & Paul Trott (Supervisor)

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