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Middle managers’ experience of policy implementation and mediation in the context of the Scottish quality enhancement framework

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Article number4
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)135-150
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/03/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper analyses how middle managers perform and experience their role in
enacting policy in Scottish higher education institutions. The policy focus is the
quality enhancement framework (QEF) for learning and teaching in higher
education, which was launched in 2003. The data-set was collected between 2008 and 2010, during the evaluation of the QEF by means of focus groups with
middle managers at nine Scottish institutions. The metaphor of a policy
implementation staircase helps to situate middle managers’ position in enactment, and analyse their experience of the role. Despite the values of collegiality and ownership upheld by the QEF, middle managers’ accounts of their practices reveal that their position at the interface between university management and core academic activities continues to be a delicate one, marked by contradictory allegiances to institutional strategies and the concerns of academic colleagues. While emphasising middle managers’ pivotal role in the implementation of the QEF policy, the data paradoxically suggest that the systemic positioning of middle managers is more influential in shaping their role of mediation than the values of collegiality and ownership promoted by this enhancement approach to quality specific to Scotland.