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Difficult Talent: A Conceptual Approach to Managing Academics in Pursuit of Academic Goals

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DOI: 10.4236/jss.2015.33018    2,881 Downloads   3,346 Views   Citations
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ABSTRACT

Although the diversity of forms of talent discourages generalizations about how talent should be most accurately identified, successfully attracted, and effectively managed, examination of specific fields should at least yield observations applicable to those fields. To advance the pursuit of such observations, this paper uses Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, which separates factors causing worker satisfaction from factors causing worker dissatisfaction, to analyze trends in the management of university faculty adopted ostensibly to pursue more effectively the goals of the university. Using examples from the points of view of talent (faculty) and management (administration), the paper identifies potential difficulties in the management of university faculty that match Herzberg’s factors that lead to his distinct concerns of dissatisfaction or satisfaction. The categories of Herzberg’s theory associate management itself more with dissatisfaction than with satisfaction; this paper argues that, due to the nature of the talent involved, recent trends involving the active management of university faculty are unavoidably related to dissatisfaction rather than to satisfaction; furthermore, the same trends frustrate satisfaction and alter the types of satisfaction available to faculty. As a result, rather than leading merely to the identifiable exit of talent from universities, these trends lead to a change in the nature of the talent that is being attracted, and even in the very definition of the talent that is considered desirable. The result of such active management is therefore not so much an attainment of the original goals of academia, as it is an alteration of those goals to fit the methods of management. Specifically, with the introduction of modern management practices into universities and the growing intensity with which they are being applied, the goals of universities are shifting from the cultivation of knowledge—in the forms both of research and of truly educated graduates—to the manufacture of reputation. Consideration of this shift in the types of satisfaction available to university faculty will hopefully lead to further examinations of the same sort of shifts in other fields, and allow managers to question the assumptions according to which we define our goals and the ways in which we pursue them.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Sellari, T. (2015) Difficult Talent: A Conceptual Approach to Managing Academics in Pursuit of Academic Goals. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3, 109-118. doi: 10.4236/jss.2015.33018.

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