A Qualitative Study on Informal Roles Assumed in Academic Organizations

Pacaci M., ERDEM R.

YUKSEKOGRETIM DERGISI, vol.11, no.2, pp.445-460, 2021 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.2399/yod.20.708259
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), EBSCO Education Source, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.445-460
  • Keywords: Academic organizations, academics, informal roles, qualitative study, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE WORK BEHAVIORS, DEVIANT WORKPLACE BEHAVIORS
  • Süleyman Demirel University Affiliated: Yes


This study aims to identify the informal roles that academics play and display in academic organizations, to identify situations where informal roles emerge in academic organizations, and to evaluate the informal role determinants and the results of informal roles in terms of academic staff, students, institution, and society. It was designed as a phenomenological study, which is one of the qualitative research designs. The data were collected by reviewing the related literature, consulting expert opinions, and employing a semistructured interview form after it was piloted first; and then the data were coded by using the interpretive phenomenological approach. The study group consists of 23 volunteer academics working at Suleyman Demirel University. The interpretive phenomenological analysis revealed four themes: situations where informal roles emerged, their determinants, the informational roles undertaken/displayed, and the results of displaying informal roles. On the one hand, academics take some positive roles such as mentoring, acting like a family member, inspiring others, supporting others academically and socially, sharing information, being a opinion leader, contributing to society, and enlightening the society. On the other hand, academics were also found to play some negative roles that involve indifference, abuse, unethical behavior, slacking, tyranny, academic selfishness, academic arrogance, positioning themselves in ivory towers, and mongering hope. Academics' personality traits were identified to be the most important determinants of informal roles, and institutional/academic relations, being a member in the same political, religious group, or being from the same hometown were found to lay the ground for informal roles. The positive informal roles assumed in academic organizations resulted in creating a culture of sharing, spiritual pleasure, increase in student success, and socialization of the academic. However, the negative informal roles performed in academic organizations resulted in individual inefficiency, loss of motivation in students, uneasiness in the organization, and isolation from the society.