Deteriorating Working Conditions in Academia – The Best Way to Secure Meritocracy?

TítuloDeteriorating Working Conditions in Academia – The Best Way to Secure Meritocracy?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsCarvalho, T
Conference Name15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Date Published8-9 March, 2021
PublisherIATED Academy
Conference LocationOnline Conference
ISBN Number978-84-09-27666-0
Palavras-chaveacademics, career, Change, Portugal, working conditions

Academic careers have been changing worldwide due to a diversity of both endogenous and exogenous factors. Global trends such as managerialism and New Public Management (NPM) influence changes in careers in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), since these trends translate the spreading of discourses, values and ideologies from the private sector to the public sector. This study examines the impact of NPM on the working conditions of Portuguese higher education academics in the last ten years. The empirical data are based on official statistics on the Portuguese academics employment conditions and the analysis leads to the following conclusions. Changes reveal an increasing corrosion of traditional employment practices. Employment has become more precarious as professionals are increasingly employed on non-tenured contracts. Although this tendency was initially more evidenced in the polytechnic sector, in nowadays universities present even more precarious conditions. In short, this means that despite the political changes in the country in the last years, the development of science in Portugal is still based in highly qualified employment but with equally high precarious employment relations, even if an improvement of the working conditions for those at the top is evidenced. In this context, the prospect of future wealth, rather than current income and working conditions, main represent the driver for young academics to stay in the job. Potential consequences for the meritocratic and excellence values, framing HEIs organisational culture are discussed.


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