Managing temporary workers in higher education: still at the margin?

Bryson, C. and Blackwell, R., 2006. Managing temporary workers in higher education: still at the margin? Personnel Review, 35 (2), pp. 207-224. ISSN 0048-3486

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Purpose – To evaluate whether “numerical flexibility” – specifically a form of temporary and precarious employment – hourly-paid part-time teaching in the UK higher education sector – adds strategic value and demonstrates good practice. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on new evidence drawn from five case study organisations in which a range of managers was interviewed in depth. Findings – Analysis identifies a continuum of strategies from integration into the main workforce through to “deepened differentiation”. Although integration is somewhat problematic when applied to a diverse group, differentiation seems predicated on a defensive, risk management approach designed to further marginalise this activity. Also, differentiation fails to address the aspirations of many employees, creating tensions between institutional strategy and the needs of academic heads. Research limitations/implications – The number of case studies is limited. These case studies were selected because they had the most proactive strategies on this issue, which infers that the majority of employers in HE have not been rather less strategic or proactive. Practical implications – The paper is of particular value to HR professionals considering the use of numerical flexibility approaches. It also contributes to the academic debate on the strategic value of such approaches. Originality/value – The paper explores a neglected but important area of the workforce. The paper notes that some supposed benefits of numerical flexibility might be illusory, such as the deployment of allegedly “cheap and disposable” substitute workers which may be offset by unintentional consequences including rigidities in an organisation's human resource systems.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Personnel Review
Creators: Bryson, C. and Blackwell, R.
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Date: 2006
Volume: 35
Number: 2
ISSN: 0048-3486
Rights: © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:33
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 09:10

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