Monthly Archives: October 2014

CfP for special issue: entrepreneurial universities

The journal Small Business Economics announced a special issue on “Entrepreneurial Universities: Emerging Models in the New Social and Economic Landscape”. It is edited by Alain Fayolle, Maribel Guerrero, Magnus Klofsten, Sarfraz Mian, and David Urbano. Deadline for extended abstracts is on December 1st, 2014. Find the full call for papers here.

Scientific advancement or paper inflation?

The body of available management literature has grown considerably during the past years. A search in Thompson Reuters’ ISI Web of Knowledge shows 19,143 articles published in the journals listed in the Journal Citation Reports for Busines and Management in 2013. Meaning 52.4 new articles were published per day – or one every 27.5 minutes. These numbers have almost doubled since 2003 when “only” 30.9 articles were published per day. And they are more than five times as much as 1993 (9.7 articles per day).

But how may we interpret these numbers? Is this increase a sign of scientific advancement, as treated by most rankings and performance-management systems? Or does it indicate a dysfunctional “inflation” of publications without further enlarging the scientific knowledge-base?

Either way, the vast majority of publications are rarely recognized by the scientific community (i.e. cited) at all. Of course, it’s not possible for scholars to keep up with the development of management science by reading all published articles. But considering this trend, we should ask ourselves wether there are more effective ways to communicate our scholarly results and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Distinguished Scholars Seminar at Zurich – Reflections

As Isabel Boegner has already announced, we have both participated in the Distinguished Scholars Workshop on “Developments in Institutional Theory”, conducted by Royston Greenwood from the University of Alberta. Greenwood is currently one of the most influential scholars in the field of organizational institutionalism.

The seminar took place at the Chair of David Seidl at the University of Zurich from 24th – 26th of September. We were approximately 15 participants (doctoral students) given the chance to discuss several papers on institutional theory, reaching from an introduction to institutional theory to hybrids, institutional logics, and institutional complexity. Further, we have learned about categories and “emerging stuff”, such as emotions and materiality. Besides these paper-based discussion rounds, advanced doctoral students were given the opportunity to present their current research projects, discuss them and receive feedback from Royston Greenwood and the seminar participants. Ferdinand Wenzlaff from Leuphana University of Lüneburg, working in the RePort-Project, joined us and took the opportunity to present a collaborative research paper on hybrid organizational responses of European universities facing institutional complexity in the higher education field.

Greenwood admitted himself: “Organizational Institutionalism is very fluffy”. Although it was sometimes challenging to grasp the essence of neo-institutionalism and to be clear about definitional issues – for example, how to distinguish between institutional context, geographical community, and organizational field? – we spent three very nice days at the University of Zurich and got to know different facets of institutional theory. We have gathered inspirations for our collaborative research project IndiKon: The theme of hybrid organizations that are exposed to competing institutional logics in the long run is of particular interest for our research project. In this context, rankings act as field-level intermediaries shaping actors’ responses to conflicting institutional demands (Kodeih & Greenwood, 2014).

Moreover, recent developments towards a micro-level of analysis within institutional theory have become apparent during the workshop. Again, our research project will benefit from this developments.

CfP for special issue: are scholars public service motivated?

We are editing a Special Issue of the International Journal of Manpower on “Human Resource Management and Public Service Motivation”. Public Service Motivation (PSM) is defined as an “individual’s predisposition to respond to motives grounded primarily or uniquely in public institutions and organizations” (Perry & Wise, 1990, p. 368). Given this definition, it seems reasonable that scholars have high levels of PSM. For example, the “commitment to public interest” dimension of PSM seems to correspond to the norm of communism (i.e., scholars share their work with their invisible college for the common good) in the Mertonian sociology of science. However, we still know little about the antecedents and consequences of PSM in higher education organizations. For example, how does PSM moderate the relationship between performance measurement and scientific misconduct? If you have ongoing work in this or closely related fields, please consider a submission to our Special Issue. You find the Call for Papers here.

On the assessment of academic performance

The IndiKon project aims to contribute to one of the most urging topics in the organization of science and higher education: how to conceptualize, ascertain, assess, and, ultimately, measure academic performance? The question gains more and more importance since universities around the globe increasingly apply performance management systems in order to allocate their scarce resources more effectively. At this year’s annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Herman Aguinis, Elena Antonacopoulou, and Debra Shapiro had a panel discussion in which they argued for a pluralistic approach to academic performance (see this article).

The widespread practice to confine scholarly impact to publications in peer-refered journals is a problem, indeed. Since inadequate performance management systems may cause counterproductive academic behavior and, consequently, attentuate scientific innovation, the design of such systems has to be grounded in thourough reasoning based on empirical evidence. We seek to provide some insights in that regard. During the next 3 years, we’ll try to develop novel qualitative and quantitative indicators for scientific innovation and assess possible cognitive and behavioral effects resulting from the deployment of performance management systems in organizations of higher education.

Report from WINIR Conference

I’ve attended the inaugural conference of the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR) entitled with “Institutions that change the world” (September 11-14, 2014, London).

Indeed, the participants were an interdisciplinary group; however the major part were evolutionary/institutional economists. General facilities and provisions were rather poor – given the 270£ conference fee. The conference was spread over 3 days, but one could only listen to 4 slots of presentations (each slot organized as 8 parallel sessions), since there were 5 key notes. Unfortunately, I have chosen sessions, which did not meet my expectations. The session The Social Institutions of Social Science connected to recent attempts of assessing the institutionalization of scientific fields. However, the methods – e.g. counting journals – employed could be expanded by more sophisticated bibliometric analyses but also qualitative accounts such as studying conferences.

I have presented my working paper “Dynamic Stagnation” in a session to Institutional Change. The key idea of the paper is as follows:

Developed economies tend to face declining growth rates and stagnation. While stagnation would be rather associated with saturation and institutional stability, there is evidence for increasing dynamics and pressures for the marketization and economization of social spheres (e.g. the restructuring higher education systems according to market principles or the retrenchment of welfare systems). This constellation of institutional change (economization) and stagnation is causally linked and labeled as dynamic stagnation. It is explained by modeling the paradoxical operating mode of a capitalist economy (growth paradox): declining effective demand constitutes an inherent stagnation tendency (growth brake), but only growth allows avoiding increasing in­equalities (growth imperative). Institutional change towards the marketization of social spheres previously organized outside the market is a reflex of attempts to maintain capitalism during low growth rates and stagnation. This type of institutional change then is less a product of economic growth, but of insufficient growth (dynamic stagnation).

This macro perspective contributes to the explanation of institutional change of the (German) higher education system. Today, higher education institutions are increasingly constructed as actors, competing for students, staff, and funding. They are not only considered for New Public management and strategic management in order to achieve efficiency and competitive advantages; they are turned into “quasi-economic organizations” (Teixeira & Dill, 2011: xvi) stimulating innovation and growth through knowledge commercialization and job market oriented training. This idea is manifested in university models such as the entrepreneurial university, the triple helix, or the third generation university to name only few of an inflationary discourse on new university models.