Mobility and Professional Networks in Academia: An Exploration of the Obligations of Presence

Tom Storme, James Faulconbridge, Jonathan V Beaverstock, Ben Derudder, Frank Witlox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)
410 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores the obligations of presence behind work-related mobility for academics in internationalizing higher education systems. By further developing John Urry’s concept of ‘meetingness’, the article reveals how academics depend on corporeal and virtual mobility to create and maintain a networked professional life outside their own institution, which is crucial in the context of changing work conditions. Our insights are drawn from original qualitative research (42 interviews) in a Flemish and Danish context. The data reveal obligations of presence associated with an interrelated mix of functionality, and the construction of dense and sparse social networks that together support career success and work at the frontiers of academic knowledge. Despite the now well-recognized costs of corporeal mobility, obligations of presence result in virtual and corporeal mobility coexisting, rather than the former substituting for the latter. Virtual mobility is mainly used when conflicting obligations of presence exist, and as a means of sustaining networks over time given the processual nature of meetingness, rather than as a means to reduce levels of corporeal mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-424
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017

Structured keywords

  • Perspectives on Work
  • MGMT theme Work Futures
  • MGMT International Business Management and Strategy


  • Academic mobility
  • meetingness
  • mobility obligations
  • internationalization
  • social networks


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