From the studies there would appear to be increasing recognition among senior and middle managers in higher education institutions of the needs and aspirations of a broadening range of faculty. This has resulted in significant efforts being made, particularly at middle management level, to accommodate individual requirements. However, depending on the flexibility of structures and the influence of individuals, there remains potential for a gap, as well as a time lag, between formal institutional structures and processes and what happens, or is perceived to happen, day-to-day. Local interpretation is likely to be an increasingly significant element in creating a facilitative environment, even where structures have become more flexible. This is evident, for instance, in the UK Annual Workforce Survey (Times Higher 2016) which demonstrates that, despite increasing time and work pressures on academic faculty, individual stories demonstrate how a key variable is likely to be local cultures, so that:

Staff are … more likely than not to say that their university cares for the well-being of its workforce (49% agree that they do, against 36% who disagree).

(Times Higher 2016: 7) It is also noticeable in this survey that negative views tend to be around structural factors, such as inappropriate application of workload models and performance management criteria, and also factors associated with a more market-oriented environment. It is likely to be these types of factors that lead to negative perceptions of managers as a collective, which also surface in the Annual Workforce Survey. Structures can be perceived, according to circumstances, as more or less flexible, imposed by senior managers, or constructed as a result of consultation and ‘community governance’. Furthermore, structural changes may be cumulative and effectively layered on top of one other rather than one change precisely replacing another, with the potential for lack of clarity about, for instance, promotion criteria. Local managers are likely to have an influence in managing such processes, thereby influencing perceptions at ground level. Academic faculty are also influenced by disciplinary perspectives, although new interdisciplinary and inter-professional identities are emerging, with a general diffusion and flattening of such relationships.