Success and Relational Agency in Academia:
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Success and Relational Agency in Academia: The Experiences of Early Career Academics (ECAs) in NZ Universities. Dr Kathryn Sutherland Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand [email protected]

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Dr Kathryn Sutherland Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Dr kathryn sutherland associate dean faculty of humanities and social sciences

Success and Relational Agency in Academia: The Experiences of Early Career Academics (ECAs) in NZ Universities

Dr Kathryn Sutherland

Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

[email protected]

(Project Team Members: Dr Pam Williams and Dr Marc Wilson)


The project

The Project

  • Factors influencing success, productivity and satisfaction of ECAs

  • Variations in organisational expectations and personal aspirations

  • Institutional and personal processes and support

  • Resources at a national and local level


The project team

The project team

All from Victoria University of Wellington

  • Dr Kathryn Sutherland, Associate Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences

    • Team Role: Principal Investigator

  • Dr Pamela Williams, Sustainability Consultant

    • Team Role: Researcher

  • Dr Marc Wilson, Associate Professor, Psychology

    • Team Role: Researcher and Statistical Consultant


The need for the project

The need for the project

  • BIG GAP between external/institutional and personal expectations


Externally imposed constructions of success

Externally imposed constructions of success


Personal constructions of success

Personal constructions of success


The need for the project cont d

The need for the project, cont’d…

  • BIG GAP between external/institutional and personal expectations

  • If “successful” ECAs report a LACK OF SATISFACTION AND BALANCE, what is happening for the rest?

  • Importance of the FIRST FEW YEARS of learning in any new job


Factors influencing success

Factors influencing success

  • Institutional support and resources

  • Prior experiences

  • Personal characteristics

    • Resourcefulness

    • Resilience

    • Relationships/relational agency

    • Academic citizenship

    • Balance

http://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/ako-hub/ako-aotearoa-central-hub/resources/pages/success-and-impact-early-career-academics-two-new-z


Research design

Research Design

  • Builds on already published research

  • Multi-method approach – interviews, questionnaires, focus groups

  • Includes participants from all eight New Zealand universities (up to 54 interviewees and up to 96 focus group participants, as well as up to 800 questionnaire respondents)

  • Triangulation and role of reference group


Impact on practice for enhanced learner benefit

Impact on practice for enhanced learner benefit

  • Academics are learners too, as Developing Scholarly Habits (DSH) programme at Victoria is demonstrating

  • Potential new induction and support programmes and resources in universities (and other institutions)

  • Better balance and satisfaction among academics will flow on to benefits for students, too


Progress to date

Progress to date

  • Ethics approval granted

  • Interviews conducted at two of the four remaining universities (the other two will happen in May)


Next steps

Next steps

  • Data analysis of Phase One

  • Literature review

  • National questionnaire of all ECAs

  • Focus groups with ECAs

  • Focus groups with management/admin/reps of “the university”


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