Presentation 1

Developing the internationalisation agenda in higher education: Does the Manager manage or the Actor act?

Miss Mari Thynne, M.C.Thynne@bath.ac.uk
ICHEM, School of Management, University of Bath


This paper investigates the dynamic connection between two of Weick’s seven organisational sensemaking processes – identity and enactment – in the context of management interaction with colleagues at their higher education institution. Findings are taken from an ethnographical PhD study which ‘shadowed’ (Czarniawska 2007) some of those responsible for leading the internationalisation agenda within a small number of higher education institutions responding to the current world financial crisis and other challenges. The paper develops an argument that identity involving both ‘sense’ and enactment as ‘action’ (Weick 1995:30) are the primary principles of sense-giving and sense-making within a slowly developing crisis for higher education, which is publicly funded.  Methodologically, in order to tease out motives of interaction within this context, ‘Dramatism’ is used as the generating principle of investigation (Burke 1969) and draws on my own professional dramatist experience.  I utilize my own professional stage work to align with the suggestion that social scientists might ‘learn from the art and craft’ of the dramatist (Butler 1997:945).  In addition, the findings highlight the effects of identity and enactment on patterns of interaction that can constrain or develop outcomes in the organisational sense-making process.  A main implication is that positive outcomes of sense-giving and sense-making are contingent upon not only participant interaction but also on perceptions of that interaction.  It is important to note that these data were collected within the latter three months of 2009 – at the beginning of a significant global economic decline – and therefore investigate academic and administrative staff actors’ sensemaking processes whilst they were experiencing pressures associated with the beginnings of a new era of organisational uncertainty and change; demonstrating the management, and at times the acting, techniques undertaken to both sense-give and sense-make.

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