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Shifting identities and blurring boundaries : the emergence of Third Space professionals in UK higher education

Whitchurch, Celia (2008) Shifting identities and blurring boundaries : the emergence of Third Space professionals in UK higher education. Higher Education Quarterly, 62 (4). pp. 377-396. ISSN 0951-5224. DOI UNSPECIFIED

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This paper adds to earlier reviews by the author of the changing roles and identities of contemporary professional staff in UK higher education (Whitchurch, 2004; 2006a; 2006b), and builds on a categorisation of professional staff identities as having bounded, cross-boundary, and unbounded characteristics (Whitchurch, 2008, forthcoming). Drawing on a study of fifty-four professional managers in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, it describes a further category of blended professionals, who have mixed backgrounds and portfolios, comprising elements of both professional and academic activity. The paper goes on to introduce the concept of third space as an emergent territory between academic and professional domains, which is colonised primarily by less bounded forms of professional. The implications of these developments for institutions and for individuals are considered, and some international comparisons drawn. Finally, it is suggested that third space working may be indicative of future trends in professional identities, which may increasingly coalesce with those of academic colleagues who undertake project- and managementoriented roles, so that new forms of third space professional are likely to continue to emerge.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This paper introduces the concept of 'third space' between professional and academic spheres of activity, which has implications not only for identities in higher education, but for management and leadership development. To that end, the concept has been picked up by, for instance the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. The definitive version is available at
Divisions: IOE Departments > Departments > International and Lifelong Education
IOE Departments > Departments > Lifelong and Comparative Education
Depositing User: IOE Repository Editor (2)
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2010 11:45
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 08:31
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