FROM PRACTICE TO ACADEMIA: CHANGING IDENTITIES OF PRACTITIONER TO ACADEMIC TRANSITIONS
Abstract - Although there is a plethora of research on acquiring and legitimizing, HE academic identities, there is little that specifically examines how practitioners transition to acquire salient teaching identities that enable them to feel agentive and effective as an academic. Yet it is recognized that combining the two elements can cause profound stress and feelings of anomie (Knights et al., 2007), and that lack of a salient working identity can lead to eventual attrition.
Sensemaking is a key element in understanding identity processes in organisations. Sensemaking- the process through which individuals make meaning of novel, unexpected or equivocal experiences (Weick, 2015). It brings a constructionist lens to identity, produced through talk and action, and is able to capture the mutable, dynamic element of identity (Maitlis et al., 2010). We use it to identify important discursive constructions by which professionals come to regards themselves as unique and valuable (Clarke et al. 2009). Combining this method with narrative analysis we examine data from 20 qualitative interviews with practitioners in a business school, who have made the transition from practice to academia and ask: a ) What type of development do academics from business (AFBs) feel most develops their ability and confidence to teach? b) What areas do they need most support in ? c) What communities of practice do they draw on to enhance their new identities ?
The results indicate that there are considerable barriers to this transition as academics struggle to make sense of their work, positioned as they are, remote to the organization. It also reveals challenges in relation to values and sense of professional worth both during and after this transition. This has important implications both for sensemaking and identity and the type of development that can facilitate this, particularly in view of the added value that practitioners bring to student learning.
Results illustrate that learning has a key role in new identity acquisition and is part of the process of sensemaking (Baxter, 2012; Black et al., 2018). Engaging in research and scholarship in teaching and learning is key to effective identity transitions, along with the salience gained through engaging in internal and external professional networks
Keywords - Index Terms-Identity, Sense making, Academic-Transitions, Business, Professional Identity.