"Manufacturing Epistemological Turmoil": The Management of Interdisciplinary Research in UK Universities

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In recent years, the importance of encouraging interdisciplinary research has been widely recognised by policy makers, funding bodies and university leaders in the UK. However, UK universities have been traditionally organised around academic departments reflecting traditional disciplinary boundaries. The increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary research therefore represents a challenge to well established managerial models in UK universities. This paper brings together conclusions from three different research projects, spanning seven leading research intensive universities. Interviews were undertaken with senior university leaders and managers, and with academic staff. A range of issues facing universities, including the development of new organisational structures and methods of incentivising interdisciplinary activity are identified. Practical problems for universities in the management of interdisciplinary research are discussed, providing a checklist of points to be considered by universities and researchers.


Keywords: Leadership, Management, Strategy, Research
Stream: Economics and Management
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. John Taylor

Professor of Higher Education Management and Policy, Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy at Southampton, University of Southampton
Southampton, Hampshire, UK

A historian by origin, John Taylor worked for over 20 years as a senior manager in UK universities before moving into research and teaching in higher education management. He has been Professor of Higher Education Management and Policy at the University of Southampton since 2004. His main interests lie in policy analysis, strategy and organisation, internationalisation and globalisation, quality management and the management of research in higher education institutions. He has published widely on matters relating to the management and organisation of universities. Leading a research group with staff and research students from more than 20 countries, he is especially interested in comparative studies of higher education.

Ref: I08P0843