Monthly Archives: December 2011

In Search of Order in Germany's Public Higher Education Discourse

Last Friday, I presented some preliminary research in a seminar on “sociological discourse analysis” at Hamburg Graduate School. The research question we are examining by using a discourse-analytic method (e.g. Foucault 1973) came up when we scanned newspapers for articles about the recent development in Germany’s higher education sector.

Some participants in the discourse strongly welcome measurements and rankings as a form of ‘objective’ output control, while other actors dismiss these methods and prefer peer control mechanisms by the academic society (see this article in ‘Die Zeit’, for example). Some arguments against the latest reforms in university governance seem to promote the control mechanisms used in the ‘Ordinarien’ university, which was abolished after student protests in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

So we wondered, what organizing principles constitute the idealtypic ‘Ordinarien-‘,  ‘Gruppen-‘ and ‘Unternehmerische Universität’, based on management and organization literature (e.g. Mintzberg 1980, Ahrne & Brunsson 2011)? When we got an answer to this question, we hope to clarify who is demanding what in the public discourse, which consequences the proposed or dismissed forms of organizing might have, and finally shed some (theory framed) light into an ideological framed discussion.

  • Ahrne, G., & Brunsson, N. (2011). Organization outside organizations: the significance of partial organization. Organization, 18(1), 83‐104.
  • Foucault, M. (1973): Die Archäologie des Wissens. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp Verlag.
  • Mintzberg, H. (1980). Structure in 5’s: A Synthesis of the Research on Organization Design. Management Science, 26(3), 322–341.