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Managing Sick Leave in the University: Bureaucracy and Discretion

Chrystal Jaye (), Lauralie Richard (), Claire Amos and Geoff Noller ()
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Chrystal Jaye: Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago
Lauralie Richard: Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago
Claire Amos: Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago
Geoff Noller: Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago

Humanistic Management Journal, 2021, vol. 6, issue 2, No 5, 227 pages

Abstract: Abstract This study examined the challenges for supervisors and managers of managing sick leave within a New Zealand university. We used a qualitative research design, interviewing 20 university staff across the academic and service divisions who had managerial roles. We applied Habermas’ distinctions of technical instrumental, practical relational, and emancipatory critical transformative interests, and his twofold distinction of system and lifeworld to our analysis. The primary findings suggest that while the technical instrumental discourses were dominant within the university bureaucracy, managers (particularly front line managers) drew upon practical relational and emancipatory critical transformative discourses to justify the considerable discretion they exercised in managing sick leave. Far from being incidental, these humanistic elements are as much a part of the bureaucracy as the rational elements and are fundamental to the system’s equilibrium.

Keywords: New Zealand; Habermas; Sick leave; Managers; University; Bureaucracy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s41463-020-00094-7

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