Academics’ professional identity: Conflicting personal values of academics and institutional culture




academics' professional identity, higher education, institutional culture, personal values


Higher education is driven by the objective of establishing an educational setting in which academics and students collaboratively construct and convey scientific knowledge and values that can be utilised in the future. Academics' professional identity focuses on their professional interests, values, and commitments to important work duties. Consequently, academics' professional identity may encounter obstacles when faced with conflicting misalignment between their values and university culture. This paper utilises a qualitative case study with an interpretive paradigm to investigate how academic identity is constructed through the conflicts that arise from the discrepancy between individual values and institutional culture. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine academics purposively selected from an English-speaking university in Cameroon to gain insight into the phenomenon. The gathered data were coded and analysed thematically. The findings reveal the existence of conflict between academics' personal values and institutional culture in the study context. It was found that there is a lack of integrity and ethics within the academic environment, particularly regarding financial transactions and the exploitation of educational practices by some leaders, academic staff, and students. Additionally, issues such as insufficient remuneration, delayed payment, and fear of physical and professional reprisal within the university impact academics' professional identity and self-worth. To address these challenges, it is crucial to tackle delayed wages, foster a supportive environment, align academic values with university beliefs, and promote political neutrality in the study context.

Author Biographies

Novel Lena Folabit, University of the Free State, South Africa

Dr. Folabit is a postdoctoral research fellow in the SANRAL Chair at the Department of Curriculum Studies and Higher Education within the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Her research interests are diverse, encompassing higher education, the professional identity development of academics, leadership practices, instructional leadership, decolonization, digital literacy, identity in higher education, and ICT integration.

Loyiso Currell Jita, University of the Free State, South Africa

Prof Loyiso C. Jita obtained his PhD in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy at Michigan State University, USA. He is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology Education. He is also the holder of the SANRAL Chair in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology Education at the University of the Free State. Professor Jita has published over 110 articles on instructional leadership, teacher development, curriculum reform, Science and Mathematics education. He has presented over 50 papers at local and international conferences. He is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Education and the Editor-in-Chief for the accredited Journal, Perspectives in Education (PIE).


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How to Cite

Folabit, N. L. ., & Jita, L. C. (2024). Academics’ professional identity: Conflicting personal values of academics and institutional culture. Interdisciplinary Journal of Sociality Studies, 4, 1-13.