Compliance or pragmatism: how do academics deal with managerialism in higher education? A comparative study in three countries

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Abstract

Universities throughout Europe have adopted organisational strategies, structures, technologies, management instruments and values that are commonly found in the private sector. While these alleged managerial measures may be considered useful, and have a positive effect on the quality of teaching and research, there is also evidence of detrimental effects on primary tasks. The consequences of such managerial measures were investigated through 48 interviews with staff members at 10 universities in the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The results were analysed and interpreted within the framework of institutional and professional theory, by linking them to three central themes: 'symbolic compliance', 'professional pragmatism' and 'formal instrumentality'. These themes explain why and how the respondents dissociated themselves from the managerial measures imposed upon them. This occurred often for pragmatic and occasionally for principled reasons. © 2012 Society for Research into Higher Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-290
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Volume37
Issue number3
Early online date25 May 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • comparative research
  • higher education
  • institutionalism
  • managerialism
  • performance management

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