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Investing in Our Education? Leading, Learning, Researching and the Doctorate

Investing in our Education: Leading, Learning, Researching and the Doctorate

ISBN: 978-1-78441-132-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-131-2

Publication date: 31 October 2014



This chapter explores how different aspects of middle manager identity relate to knowledge, research and practice. It argues that effective leadership depends more upon the person than the role.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 middle managers at a single school of healthcare in a research-intensive, chartered UK university.


The middle managers revealed both core and situated identities. Their core selves included various personality traits such as curiosity, a competitive streak, optimism, sociability and a sense of humour. Their situated selves were shaped by socialization, life history, critical people, and incidents and chance. In a symbiotic relationship with these core and situated components was a complex, tri-partite professional identity, as a healthcare professional, a higher education (HE) academic, and an education manager. All the participants greatly valued professional development and ongoing academic study.

Social implications

This chapter illustrates how the best postgraduate courses develop exemplary education managers/leaders. They do this not by giving students role-specific skills but by developing their analytical and critical thinking skills. Through a process of deep learning and experience, individuals undertaking a doctorate are able to develop into reflexive and reflective practitioners who can act with personal integrity.


Little has been published about the relationships between the career background, the identity and the role of a university middle manager, and virtually nothing from the field of healthcare. The figure presented in this chapter offers a new framework for understanding the relationship between self, professional identity and role.



Thomas-Gregory, A. and Mercer, J. (2014), "Investing in Our Education? Leading, Learning, Researching and the Doctorate", Investing in our Education: Leading, Learning, Researching and the Doctorate (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 213-232.



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