To achieve efficient and effective quality improvement, European universities have gradually adopted organizational strategies, structures, technologies, management instruments, and values that are commonly found in the private business sector. Whereas some studies have shown that such managerialism is beneficial to the quality of job performances of university employees, others have argued that managerialism is largely counterproductive and that it results in lower performances. The latter situation is called a 'managerialism contradiction'. This paper tests two lines of reasoning underlying a potential contradiction governing the relationship between managerialism and job performances, while using university employee survey data from six European countries (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, UK). The results tend to support the assumption that managerialism, in these six countries at least, has a positive effect, albeit a modest one, on the quality of performances. The most important conclusion is therefore that there is no managerialism contradiction at work in European universities. © 2009 The Author(s).