'Luring the academic soul': promoting academic engagement in South African universities
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There is widespread pressure that universities should become more responsive and accountable to multiple demands in their local, national and global contexts. Academics grapple to identify appropriate organisational responses to the pressures of state steering and incentive programmes. The empirical focus of the paper is a survey of academics' community engagement activities, mapping their interaction with external partners at five South African universities. The paper addresses a basic question: Who are the academics that engage, and what are their main academic influences? We argue that engagement is more likely to 'lure the academic soul' when it is driven by substantive growth in a disciplinary field and enhances reputations. The analysis seeks to identify how disciplinary, institutional and positional attributes are correlated with engaged activities. 'Luring the academic soul' through an understanding of the influences on academics' propensity to engage can facilitate more effectively targeted incentives and policies.
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