Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Technological University Dublin, May 2022.


This research study is designed to investigate the lived experiences and perspectives of the academic community on policy development in Irish higher education. A review of the current policy landscape in Ireland and Europe and in particular empirical studies concerning policy implementation provided the focus of the study. The initial study focused on contemporary literature on policy development practices affected by globalisation and subsequently the issues at a national level. Where the gaps in knowledge were identified were in terms of policy implementation at the local level and where the study is aligned. The participants in the study are academics from three Irish higher education institutions in Dublin. The research objectives are to understand the processes used in policy development and the academics' personal lived experiences of these and their concerns and develop a theoretical framework that will inform policy development going forward. The substantive area of study for this research is academic policy experience and concerns. To support this, data was gathered through initial focus groups and one-to-one interviews with academics across the three institutes. Classic grounded theory was the preferred methodology for this project as an authentic way of capturing the voice of the participants generating a wealth of rich data. This rich data revealed participants' views, feelings, intentions, actions and context structures of their lived experiences. The data collection sought descriptions through field notes, observations, detailed narratives and interviews. The research followed Glaser's classic grounded theory approach to develop a theory. The theory of personalising dissonance highlights the core concerns of the academics as the interpretation and implementation of policy. The theory presents the basic social and psychological process of how academics overcome their concern. The core category has three interdependent categories that are resolving conflict, prioritising career and bridging gaps. These categories were identified through coding field notes of interviews, theoretical sampling, theoretical coding, sorting, and integrating the concepts to develop the theory. This thesis presents the background and motivation, the chosen methodology in detail, an in-depth look at the theory and a detailed discussion on how the theory integrates with the current literature on policy implementation and existent behavioural theories. Two areas where this research contributes to knowledge are academic policy in Irish higher education and the empirical application of classic grounded theory. It highlights academic experiences around policy development and implementation are an issue for higher education. The theory presented explains the patterns of behaviour used by academics in overcoming their concerns. Finally, there are suggestions made in this thesis for possible future projects that will further compare and contrast with the study or contribute to the development of a formal theory going forward.