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The power and vulnerability of the ‘new professional’: Web management in UK universities

Cox, A.M. (2007) The power and vulnerability of the ‘new professional’: Web management in UK universities. Program, 41 (2). pp. 148-170. ISSN 0033-0337

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Abstract

Research paper Purpose: To explore the character of an emergent occupational role, that of university web manager. Design/methodology/approach: The primary data used were 15 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2004. These were analysed partly for factual and attitudinal data, but also for the discursive interpretative repertoires in use. Findings: The paper examines the diverse backgrounds, occupational trajectories, organisational positions, job roles and status of practitioners working in ‘web management’ in UK Higher Education. The discursive divide between the marketing and IT approaches to the web is investigated. Two case studies explore further the complexity and creativity involved in individuals’ construction of coherent and successful occupational identities. Research implications / limitations: The paper examines the position of web managers within the framework of the notions of the marginal but powerful ‘new professional’ or ‘broker’ technician. It gives a vivid insight into how the web as a dynamic and open technology opens up opportunities for new forms of expertise; but also explores the potential vulnerabilities of such new roles. In order to examine personal experience in depth, data was gathered for only a relatively small number of individuals. The research was also limited to the UK university sector and to those with a broad responsibility for the web site of the whole institution, i.e. not library web managers and other web authors who work primarily to produce a departmental web presence. These limits imply obvious ways in which the research could be extended. Practical implications: There are implications for how institutions support people in such roles, and for how they can support each other. Originality: There is a vast literature about the web, little about the new work roles that have grown up around it.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2007 Emerald. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in Program. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: World wide web, Higher Education Institutions, Webmasters, Web management, Identity, Professionalism
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Information School (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Andrew M. Cox
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2009 14:55
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2014 09:32
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00330330710742926
Status: Published
Publisher: Emerald
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1108/00330330710742926
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9048

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