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Academic transitions project

Our 'Academic transitions project' seeks to explore challenges, opportunities, and tensions around the many ways individuals make their journey from previous professional identities to ‘being and becoming’ academics. Changing roles from expert practitioner to academic can create multiple aspects of dissonance. During this ‘identity work’, individuals often encounter ambiguities as they retain previous professional values whilst simultaneously negotiating new status.. Such tensions are a feature of both moving to a traditional academic role, or being one of a growing number of ‘pracademics’ moving from professional roles in teaching, business, or the law, in response to the marketisation of HE and need for applied learning.

Our areas of research investigates such dissonances: through the medium of storytelling narratives and antenarratives, and metaphors and anecdotes, all of which, indicate the scale and nature of the identity work being undertaken. The study reflects these transitions, focusing on these transitional processes and new terrains. In so doing, we seek to understand how working in the borderlands between practice and academia as pracademics can generate welcome knowledge exchange between individuals, professional groups and HEIs through maintaining and developing aligned networks and so enhancing student experience.

Meet the team

Professor Jacqueline Baxter

Professor Jacqueline Baxter

Professor Jacqueline Baxter (Principal Investigator) is Professor of Public Leadership and Management, in the Department of Public Leadership, The Open University Business School . Her research interests lie in the areas of identity and learning, particularly in relation to transitional and hybrid identities, and practitioner to leadership identities. Her current work examines the role of coaching in the sense making activities of HE leaders, how perceptions of introverts colour and condition their leadership aspirations (self and others), and how individuals negotiate dual identities. She is Director of the Centre for Research and Innovation in online Business education (SCiLAB), Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. She is a practicing leadership coach and chair of The Open University MBA.

Dr Fran Myers

Dr Fran Myers

Dr Fran Myers is a Lecturer in Management in the Department for People and Organisations at the Open University Business School. Her research interests include organisational and political history-making and storytelling and identity in the workplace (particularly digital identity work).

Dr Andres Morales

Dr Andrés Morales

Dr Andrés Morales is an expert in the field of Sustainability, Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. Co-Founder and COO of Minca Ventures, Senior Lecturer at UNIR and research fellow at The Open University.

Dr Helen Selby-Fell

Dr Helen Selby-Fell

Dr Helen Selby-Fell holds a Senior Lectureship in the Faculty of Business & Law (FBL) and is Deputy Director (Business) for SCiLAB (the Scholarship Centre for innovation in online Legal and Business Education). Helen is currently involved in both production and presentation for a number of policing related modules, and works closely with the Centre for Police Research & Learning (CPRL). Prior to joining academia full-time, Helen has almost fifteen years’ experience working in the police service.

Work in progress

Research outputs

Figure acknowledgement: DALL·E 2 artwork generated using DALLE Artificial Intelligence, using the description 'Cubist painting of a group of people seated around a table in a meeting'.