Author Archives: Ferdinand Wenzlaff

CfP: Excellence for everyone!? Citizen science, universities, and science shops – a peak ahead

On very short notice: On November 6-7 2015, the university of applied sciences in Oldenburg organizes a conference, titled “Excellence for everyone!? Citizen science, universities, and science shops – a peak ahead.” Submission deadline has been extended until July 15th. Find the call for papers on this interesting topic here (document in German language).

Legitimationsprobleme von Hochschulen und die Gefahren der Erbringung von Rechtfertigungsnachweisen

Legitimationsprobleme von Hochschulen

Hier ein Bericht von der Podiumsdiskussion “Qualitätsdefizite oder Imageprobleme? Leistungen und Ansehen der Universität Hamburg“. Die Podiumsdiskussion fand anlässlich einer für Hamburg seit einigen Jahren bekannten Lage statt: Die Politik attestiert den Hochschulen Leistungsdefizite, wobei insbesondere die Universität Hamburg versucht, sich von diesem Image zu befreien. Die folgenden Gedanken beziehen sich daher nicht auf die Universität Hamburg, sondern eine bundesweit wenn nicht global orientierte Problemwahrnehmung.

Qualität und Image – eine Frage des Stakeholders

Frau Prof. Weber (Rektorin der Universität Greifswald und Vorstand in der HRK) brachte einen wichtigen Aspekt auf den Punkt: Unter den peers (der Welt der Wissenschaft) gibt es keine Wahrnehmung von Leistungsdefiziten und keine Imageprobleme der Universität Hamburg. Wenn also die Politik Kriterien ansetzt, die der Wissenschaft selbst nicht bekannt sind, kann auf das Imageproblem wohl auch nicht mit wissensschaftstypischen Indikatoren reagiert werden. Ein Punkt, den die Kommunikatiosberaterin Frau Schwan auch sehr klar erkannt hat, während Prof. Wiesendanger als Vertreter der Forschung sich im Kreis drehte, indem er auf die international ausgewiesene Qualität der Forschung verwies. Das Ökosystem der Universität Hamburg, so Schwan, muss aufgebrochen werden und man muss beginnen das Fremdbild zu verstehen (anstatt ignorant auf der internen Definition von Qualität zu beharren, wie es Prof. Wiesendanger exemplarisch vorgeführt hat). Es geht also nicht um bessere Forschung (die ohnehin nur noch in der Anzahl der SFBs etc. gemessen wird), sondern einen Dialog mit der Öffentlichkeit und Politik. Eine Klage eines Zuhörers, sein Diplom per Post erhalten zu haben, weist in die zukünftigen Aufgaben, sich stärker mit den Stakeholdern außerhalb der Forschung zu vernetzen.

Quantitative Qualitätsindikatoren

Auch wenn nun ungeklärt bleibt, aus welchen Quellen sich das Image der Universität Hamburg in der Politik speist, so kritisierte Frau Prof. Weber das allgemein beobachtbare Phänomen, dass sich die Wahrnehmung von Qualität und die Bildung eines Images zunehmend auf quantitative Indikatoren reduziert. Gerade das deutsche Wissenschaftssystem zeichne sich durch eine differenzierte Bewertung und die Anerkennung von Komplexität aus. Insofern Qualität durch in Rankings aggregierten quantitativen Indikatoren definiert wird, wird nicht nur die Definition von wissenschaftlicher Qualität verengt, sondern auch die Wissenschaftspraxis wird entsprechend gesteuert (siehe dazu die ausgiebige kritische Literatur von Z.B. M. Osterloh oder R. Münch). Ich wende mich nun dem zweiten Aspekt zu, welcher den Blick auf Rolle und Funktion der Wissenschaft bzw. der Hochschulen verengt.

Are universities responding better and faster to market demands?

I want to share an interesting thought on university-industry-relations concerning the development of curricula and research according to business demands. Generally, the political discourse increasingly emphasizes the urge to cooperate with industry: “universities should develop structured partnership WITH the world of enterprise in order to become significant players in the economy, able to respond better and faster to the demands of the market and to develop partnerships which harness scientific and technological knowledge.” (European Commission, 2009: 2). But, according to the “conventional wisdom”, universities are seen “as basically reluctant partners, unwilling or slow to respond to market demand” (Regini, 2012: 87).

However, Regini’s empirical findings suggest the opposite: universities do try to account for anticipated market demands, but not so the enterprises. The uncertainty of market developments simply forbids enterprises to “effectively anticipate their own needs for highly-skilled labor and competent human capital” (Regini, 2012: 87).

If the demand for skills (graduates) is highly volatile, how can universities made responsible for qualification mismatches? In other words, either the business world is made responsible for not being able to create a PROJECTABLE demand or both industry and universities have to be freed from the burden of being responsible of qualification mismatches, over-qualification or unemployment. Developed capitalist economies either live with the numerous market failures or we have to rethink the functionality of the capitalist market rather than to push universities to heal these systems failures.

EC, 2009. A new partnership for the modernisation agenda for universities: Education, research and innovation. Communication, COM(2009) 158. Brussels: European Comission.

Regini, M. 2012. Economizing and Marketization in a Functionally Differentiated Capitalist Society–A Theoretical Conceptualization. In U. Schimank, & U. Volkmann (Eds.), The Marketization of Society: Economizing the Non-Economic: 81-94.

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.

Challenges of Institutional Theory – Reflections from the EGOS 2014 conference

I have commentated central debates about the developments of institutional theory – in the case of the NIW2014 conference in Rome, institutional logics have been of central concern. Institutionalism also has been debated at EGOS 2014 – at least in the two subthemes of Greenwood et al. Rethinking Responses to Institutional Complexity and Pinheiro et al. Public Sector Reforms and Organizational Responses: Comparing Universities and Hospitals and Engwall et al. Universities in Unsettled Times as well as in the sub-plenary New Directions in Institutional Innovation with talks from Eva Boxenbaum, Marc Ventresca and Roy Suddaby.

Boxenbaum promoted an institutional imperialism by suggesting to incorporate findings from other sciences like neuro-sciences. This remembers of the Institutional Logics-book by Thornton, Occasio and Lounsbury (2012), which is presented as an attempt to position their developments of new institutionalism as a new and comprehensive meta-theory competing with Giddens structuration theory and other grand theories of society.

Since there was no moderator, a direct collusion of attitudes and ideas have been avoided, but during his talk, Ventresca revealed a sceptical position towards the imperialistic position Boxenbaum represented: “If everything is institutional, then it doesn´t help us to understand the world.” Ventresca rightly observes a “downfall as a discrete analytical stance”. Institutionalism now seems to claim explaining everything by labeling everything as something institutional.

Roy Suddaby made this point even more sharp. He started his presentation with an idom: “has institutional theory jumped the shark?” He observes a lack of construct clarity and coherence as well as tendency towards the trivialization of change and institutions. Excessive interest in studying institutional change has lead to perceive any changes as institutional change: “Any change process, however trivial, has become institutional change.” This means studying every social phenomena as institutional. So we have to bethink the very idea of institutions – endurance (this point has been also made by Elke Weik at NIW2013 in Warsow)

But reclaiming to contribute to the understanding of our world, Institutionalism might rather recognize his limits and concentrate on further elaborating the foundations. On the other hand, imperialistic tendencies can emerge into positive effects of interdisciplinary (recall my thoughts from the Bucharest-Workshop: an economist studying behavior of academics can understand the limits of its market approach).

All in all, EGOS was worth going and we came home with some constructive feedback on our papers and inspirations for our further research.

2nd Workshop in Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation of Higher Education Institutions

We look back at an interesting and inspiring academic workshop in Bucharest. The topic emerged as a joint follow-up event of our workshop last year in Lüneburg. The host – Prof. Elena Druica – and her colleagues are approching questions of higher education from economic perspectives. Especially the growing domain of behavioral economics allows to analyze and explain non-rational or non-market behavior, which is very important in the field of higher education research.

We have touched important questions which occupies our project team as well as others within the funding line “Science Economics”. For example, Calin Valsan – who also participated in Lüneburg before – investigated the fact of the relatively low payment of professors compared to other professionals. He concluded that academics do not respond to economic incentives as other professionals. Higher educations reforms could deform the prevailing motivation and incentives of academics as distinct professionals:

“This paper claims that turning academics into regular professionals would have far-reaching consequences from a wider social perspective. Emphasizing monetary rewards at the expense of intrinsic drivers would most likely change the nature and structure of the academic output (Valsan, taken from the abstract)

This illustrates that Science Economics does not necessarily conclude, how higher education can be managed more efficiently and how performance can be raised. Science economics can mean, that an economic analysis concludes the failure of the introduction of market principles.

We have further learned about the challenges of the Romanian higher education policy. For example, Liviu Andreescu presented research on the challenges and opportunities of Romania’s first university classification exercise in 2011. This was motivated by an observation of too many institutions with too weak research performance. Hence, concentration and profile building is now at the top of the agenda of Romanian higher education policy. The classification exercise initiated first merger cases and there are more mergers of universities to be expected. We will keep in contact in order to follow the developments.

Rückschritt für Wissenschaftsfreiheit und Hochschulautonomie

Wissenschaftsorganisationen kommentieren Hochschulzukunftsgesetz für Nordrhein-Westfalen kritisch

In einer gemeinsamen knappen Pressemitteilung vom 24.04.2014 kritisieren zahlreiche Wissenschaftsorganisationen von der Humboldt-Stiftung bis zur DFG den neuen vom Landeskabinett in NRW beschlossenen Entwurf des Hochschulzukunftgesetzes.

Wir werden die Debatte gespannt weiterverfolgen. Wird in NRW tatsächlich das Pendel weg von Autonomie und zurück zur staatlichen Detailsteuerung schwingen oder wird die Regierung dem Druck der Wissenschaftsorganisationen nachgeben? Möglicherweise ist auch Widerstand seitens der Hochschulen in NRW zu erwarten.

Thema Hochschulfusion in Deutschland geht voran

Hochschulfusionen sind in den USA, Australien, Großbritannien, aber auch Südafrika und in Skandinavien ein Thema seit längerer Zeit. In Deutschland fanden bisher vergleichsweise wenige Hochschulfusionen statt. Ein größere Welle von Hochschulfusionen kann noch erwartet werden.

Lausitz und Heide

Die jüngste und kontrovers debattierte Hochschulfusion fand zwischen der BTU Cottbus und der Hochschule Lausitz zur BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg statt. Diese Fusion ist damit die zweite innerhalb Deutschlands, bei der verschiedene Hochschutypen fusioniert wurden. Während die Fusion der Universität Lüneburg und Fachhochschule Nordostniedersachsen mittlerweile überwiegend als Erfolg angesehen werden, bleibt eine Bewertung der Lausitzer Fusion noch abzuwarten.

Ruhrgebiet

Lothar Zechlin reflektierte 2013 in einem Rückblick die Fusion der Universitäten Duisburg und Essen zur UDE. Zur Bewertung der Fusion schlägt er ein zweistufiges Thema vor: zunächst ist ein Erfolg, wenn die akademischen Kernprozesse innerhalb einer neuen Struktur mit Aussicht auf höhere Qualität ablaufen können. In zweiter Stufe ist dann zu bewerten, ob bessere Ergebnisse erreicht werden konnten und ob dies ohne die Fusion möglich gewesen wäre

Der Erfolg auf der Stufe 1 ist aufgrund stabilisierter Prozesse zu verzeichnen. Allerdings zeigt sich auch, dass die geplanten Profilierungen der Standorte nur sehr zäh vorangeht. Der komplette Umzug der BWL von Essen nach Duisburg scheiterte zunächst auch an den verfügbaren Räumlichkeiten. Daher und aus anderen Gründen wurden vom Land fusionsbedingte (Um)bauten von über 50 Mio. Euro und bald noch einmal so viel Mittel für weitere Baumaßnahmen bewilligt. “Als Sparmodell, wie ursprünglich propagiert, hat sich die Fusion nicht erwiesen. Sollten andere Bundesländer (man denke an die Diskussionen um die BTU Cottbus und die FH Lausitz) ähnliche Projekte beabsichtigen, sollten sie daran denken, dass Fusionen Investitionen sind: Man muss erst einmal zahlen, um daraus dann später Erfolge zu erzielen.” (Zechlin).

Der Erfolg auf Stufe 2 zeichnet sich allein durch den Größeneffekt ab, mit dem eine höhere Sichtbarkeit erreicht werden konnte (UDE in TOP 100 des Times Higher Education Ranking von Universitäen, die jünger als 50 Jahre sind). Allerdings ergibt sich kein eindeutiges Bild fusionsspezifischer Leistungssteigerung: “Die für die Integrationsphase
der Jahre 2007 ff. erwartete fusionsspezifische Leistungssteigerung ist zwar in allen Dimensionen eingetreten, diese Steigerungen sind aber auch bei anderen Hochschulen
eingetreten. […] gewesen. Alles, was sich auf die Frage nach dem Erfolg “2” antworten lässt, scheint deshalb zu sein, dass die strategische Option “Fusion” zwar erfolgreich gewesen ist, sie sich also “gelohnt” hat,  dass es damals aber vermutlich auch andere Optionen gegeben hätte, die jedenfalls nicht von vorneherein aussichtslos gewesen wären. Solche Überlegungen gehören in die Phase der strategischen Planung
und sollten bei zukünftigen Fusionsvorhaben gründlich berücksichtigt werden.” (Zechlin)

Nächste Experimente in Thüringen und im Saarland

Die Fraktion Die Linke im Landtag Thühringen hat ein Gutachten des Hochschulraums Thüringen von der Berliner Strategieberatung “MehrWertConsult” erststellen lassen. das Dokument wurde von Prof. Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff und Mitarbeiten erstellt und trägt den Titel »Campus Thüringen« – Perspektive durch Kooperation.

In der Einleitung wird das Motiv des beauftragten Gutachtens dargelegt: “Im Hinblick auf die finanziellen Herausforderungen des Freistaates – aufgrund sinkender
Zuschüsse der EU im Rahmen der Neuausrichtung europäischer Förderpolitik, des Bundes in Folge des Auslaufens des Solidarpakts II im Jahre 2020 -, der demographischen Entwicklung im Land und der Disparitäten in der Entwicklung der einzelnen thüringischen Hochschulstandorte beabsichtigte die Linksfraktion, mit dem Gutachten die Möglichkeiten prüfen zu lassen, Hochschulen bzw. Hochschuleinrichtungen in Thüringen zu fusionieren oder dergestalt miteinander kooperieren zu lassen, dass aus den Synergien ein verbessertes Verhältnis von landesseitigem Finanzierungsaufwand zu Ertrag in Forschung und Lehre erfolgt.”

Folgende Empfehlungen werden gegeben:

– Verzicht des Versprechens der Aufrechterhaltung aller Hochschuleinrichtungen;

– Hochschulentwicklungsplanung darf nicht mehr an Ländergrenzen halt machen (singuläre Hochschulstandorte wie Nordhausen oder Schmalkalden könnten Synergien durch Kooperationen mit Standorten aus benachbarten Bundesländern erreichen);

– auch die regionalen Konzentrationen von Hochschulen und Forschungseinrichtungen in Jena und Erfurt/Weimar sollten hochschulübergreifende Campus-Strukturen entwickeln;

– Zusammenlegungen von Serviceeinrichtungen und Hochschulfusionen sollten stärker in betracht gezogen werden;

– ressortübergreifende Potenziale sollten genutzt werden (z.B. sollte in die Entwicklung des Gesundheitscampus in Jena auch das Landesamt für Verbraucherschutz in Bad Langensalza einbezogen werden).

– Einsetzung einer Enquetekommission zur Thüringer Hochschulentwicklung, um auf dessen Grundlage Ziele und Prämissen der Hochschulentwicklung bis 2030 zu formulieren. Ebenso sollte die Regierung den Wissenschaftsrat um Erarbeitung von Empfehlungen zum Hochschulsystem in Thüringen bitten.

Wir werden weiter verfolgen, wie sich dieser Vorstoß der Linken weiter entwickeln wird.

Auch die saarländische Regierung sieht sich dramtischen demografischen Entwicklungen und Budgetrestriktionen gegenüber, sodass sie den Wissenschaftsrat ein Gutachten erstellen ließ, welches am 24.01.2014 unter dem Titel “Empfehlungen zur Weiterentwicklung des Hochschulsystems des Saarlandes” erschein. Die strukturellen Empfehlungen wurden in der Presse unter den Titeln “Universitätsgutachten verärgert Studenten und Lehrende”  oderKünftig weniger Studienangebote” diskutiert. In dem Gutachten sind auch Überlegungen zu Zusammenschlüssen zu lesen:

“Zur Reorganisation der Wirtschaftswissenschaften wird dem Saarland die Einrichtung einer von beiden Hochschulen getragenen „Business School Saarland“ nahe gelegt. Ziel der Restrukturierung sollte sein, Lehre und Forschung in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften von UdS und HTW zusammenzuführen, deren Effizienz zu steigern und Ressourcen einzusparen.” (Wissenschaftsrat)

Man will hier also wie gewohnt zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen: Profile schärfen bzw. Sichtbarkeit erhöhen und dabei gleichzeitig Kosten sparen. Dabei sind Zweifel berechtigt, ob dieser doppelte Anspruch erfüllt werden kann.

Katrin's Study of Mental Models accepted at the Academy of Marketing

Katrin Obermeit’s Paper Digging Deeper: Exploring Mental Models of University Choice has been accepted to be presented at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Academy of Marketing in Bournemouth (UK).

Read the abstract:

Market segmentation is an important topic for higher education marketing managers and researchers. Segmenting the student population for recruitment purposes requires a comprehensive understanding of how students choose their preferred institution. Previous research merely focused on cognitive rational or, rarely, emotional choice factors used by students segmented according to socio-demographic criteria.

However, these criteria do not comprise information about the sense making process of prospective students. The aim of this paper is to suggest an alternative segmentation approach based on mental models. By employing the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique in interviews with 27 first-year bachelor students in Germany, we identified four ideal types of decision-makers with their respective mental models: the relational, the idler, the adventurer, and the utilitarian.

By means of these models we gain a profound understanding on how relevant rational and emotional issues are engaged in sense making of marketing signals when choosing a university. Moreover, contradictory results of previous research can be explained. On this basis, university marketers are provided with relevant insights to develop sophisticated strategies in order to identify and address the most promising target groups for their universities.

Reflections of the 10th New Institutionalism Workshop, 20-21 March, Rome – Part II

The social obligation of research

Bernard Forgues (IAE Lille) raised an important point during his small speech at the panel discussion: scientists develop the taste for an abstract scientific language addressing constructed problems, and thereby forgetting the real world. Honestly, self-critically, and a bit ironically he said that at the end of a paper he has written about institutional work, he asks himself if he really addressed what the actors of his study are actually doing. Since the concepts developed are so abstract, they hardly reflect the practical concerns and actions of the actors studied.

This point was similarly made by Elke Weik (University of Leicester) in her presentation, in which she reported from the state of the art of her long-term project about the enduring features of institutions.

She stumbled upon the scientific contributions of J.W. Goethe, who developed a very critical distance towards the developments of sciences as early as in the 18th century. Being aware of the points raised by Forgues, Goethe proposed five principles of studying social phenomena, which sound inevitably anti-scientific for us as scientists:

(1) There is no subject-object-opposition between the researcher and the object

(2) The phenomena itself is the ultimate reality – the Anschauung emerges out of the object

(3) Rational thinking is only one of multiple necessary approaches to study social life.

(4) Instead of looking focusing on generalities, synchronic developments with eye to differences have to be studied.

(5) Instead of looking for linear causalities, correlations have to be studied. Instead of explanations, descriptions should be offered.

I am not sure how do deal with these propositions, since they suggest exactly the opposite of what we think of social science is about – abstracting, generalizing, idealizing, constructing causalities and so on. Goethe seems to suggest that we should carefully observe and write it down. This may contribute to our knowledge, but not to what we regard as scientific knowledge.

Nevertheless, the critique that social sciences tend to turn way from addressing practical problems seems to be undoubtful and to be a growing topic at conferences (remember my report from the last EFMD conference). We have to rethink the methods as well as the objects. For example, Elke Weik stated the following: we studied too much the poor and very often, our findings did not really help to improve their position. Hence, we should not forget to study the rich, which may help us to address some questions of injustice.

Reflections of the 10th New Institutionalism Workshop, 20-21 March, Rome – Part I

Like for the 9th NIW in Warsow last year, the call for papers hasn’t been specified to a guiding topic as it is known from other workshops or conferences. Interestingly, it seemed that this year (program) a general concern among the participants emerged: How to interpret the concept of institutional logics and how to use it in empirical studies? Some have gained great insights in the institutional logics perspective; others – like me – went home with even more questions than they came with. Let me shortly discuss some of the points raised at the workshop.

Fog surrounding the institutional logics perspective

The concept of institutional logics mainly goes back to an article published Friedland and Alford (1991) in the “Orange Bible of Institutionalists” (Ann Westenholz from CBS). The institutional logics perspective has then been discovered and applied by Megan Thornton in the early 2000s and been further elaborated in several works with William Ocasio. The works culminated in a book together with Michal Lounsbury in 2012. This book has received considerable attention among institutionalist scholars while at the same time there seems to be a huge dissatisfaction with the book.

Defining institutional logics?

A central paper presented at the workshop – at least to my view – carried the programmatic title “What are logics? An investigation of the methodologies in the Institutional Logics perspective”. In this paper Boch-Waldorff and Berg-Johansen (both from CBS) reviewed 30 articles published in prestigious journals applying the institutional logics in empirical studies. The authors asked how the concept of institutional logic is defined and methodologically approached. From that review they derive typologies of definitions and methodological pathways. While some highly appreciate this effort and share the concern of a necessary clarification of a theoretical and methodological basis, others would rather welcome methodological pluralism. This point has been made by Greenwood, how didn’t deny the importance of such work, but remembered not to marginalize the progress in the growth of empirical knowledge the studies have provided, despite (or maybe because of?) the fuzziness of the concept they use.

I close the definition-paragraph with a statement of Giuseppe Delmestri (JKU Linz) according to his meaning: “In our first workshop 10 years ago we have been asking what an institution is. There have been ambitions to agree on something like a manifesto. Of course this did not work out and it did not prevented us from advancing our knowledge for the following ten years. Today we trap into a similar illusion with the institutional logics …”

Ethnocentrism

A main and quite commonly shared critique of institutional logics perspective as further elaborated by Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury in their book published in 2012 is the ethnocentrism. While Friedland and Alford in their initial formulation of the concept highlighted to investigate the central logics of Western societies, this has been brushed aside. While Friedland and Alford identified the Christian Relegion as a central logic of the West, Thornton et al. (2012) generalize to simply religion, and thereby at least implicitly suggesting to universalize the logics. However, religions are not replaceable systems, they may differ enormously, fulfil different functions and have different relationships to other institutional logics. As shown by Max Weber, the development of protestant religion goes hand in hand with the logic of capitalism; other religions may have other relations to capitalism and embed it differently – this point has been critically reflected by Iwashita (Cardiff Business School) in his presentation.

Selectivity

Further, – this point refers to Friedland & Alford as well as Thornton et al. – the central institutional logics may be selective or arbitrary, for example it has been asked, why there is no logic of science as a central institutional logic of modern Western societies. On the other hand, a logic of science could be captured by the logic of professionalism – but still, one can discuss about the incompleteness of the central logics.

Logics as a Toolkit

A more critical point regarding the suggestion of Thornton et al., that institutional logics can been seen as a toolkit, allowing strategic behavior of entrepreneurs combining logics in various ways. This idea attracts criticism, since it contains the danger of an over-agentification of actors. Further, it is questionable if institutional logics can be combined into coherent hybrids. A Logic as a set of principles would then lose its meaning.

More critique of the developments of Thornton et al. one can find in the review of the book by Roger Friedland himself (published in M@n@gement 2006, 15(5), 582-595).

The lost value

Ann Westenholz (CBS) in her presentation stated that the concept of value has been lost in the development of Thornton et al. The importance of value in explaining institutions has been a central concern in the presentation of Elke Weik (University of Leicester). A similar argument has been made by Friedland in his keynote speech “The value of institutional logics”. Value has been an essential concept in prominent social theories such as from Marx and Weber, but today (institutionalist) scholars try to escape this concept with the taste of subjectivism, idealism, normativism etc. We will observe curiously how this re-birth of value will take its course within institutionalist research.

Order, logic, and institution

Another question is the distinction between the concepts „institutional logic“ and „institutional order“. Boch-Waldorff and Berg-Johansen insist that Friedland and Alford make a distinction and warn of a conflation of the two concepts; however neither of the papers offers convincing criteria for distincting these concepts. Further, in his speech Friedland seemed to use the terms synonymous. Hence, our concern should first concentrate on defining logics and its relationship to institutions, before we generate more confusion with another term order.

But even this point allows diverse reflections: what is the difference between institutional logics and institutions? This question Markus Höllerer (WU Vienna) asked to Friedland during the discussion of his presentation. Interestingly, Friedland did not have a straight answer but he played the ball back by stating that this would depend on the questioner’s definition of institutions.
Most researchers – including me – would try to integrate logics and institutions into one theory and hence struggle with finding a distinction. Just to give an example how confusing these attempts can become: “While institutions are the rules of the game, institutional logics are the underlying principles of the game.” (Leca & Naccache, 2006, A Critical Realist Approach To Institutional Entrepreneurship). In a discussion with Markus Reihlen (Leuphana University of Lüneburg) I have been inspired to think the concepts of institutions and logics not as complementary but as competing – we would then talk about the same but with different theoretical foundations.

Vacancy for doctoral student (PhD grant)

We can offer a position for doctoral students at the Chair of Strategic Management at Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Prof. Dr. Markus Reihlen).

A dissertation topic in the field of higher education research is welcome, but not required. Applications are open to non-native German speakers. Please find further information here (only in German).

You are welcome to contact Ferdinand Wenzlaff (wenzlaff@leuphana.de) if you have any questions!

CfP: 2nd Workshop in Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation of Higher Education Institutions

Our Workshop at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg in November 2013 has been a great success. Several participants asked if the event will going to be annually repeated. Before we had the chance to further think about that idea, our colleague Elena Druica proposed to organize a follow-up event at the university of Bucharest.

We are happy to invite you to submit a proposal or to participate in the “2nd Workshop in Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation of Higher Education Institutions” at the University of Bucharest conjointly organized by Prof. Elena Druica (University of Bucharest) and Prof. Markus Reihlen (University of Lüneburg).

Deadline for the submissions of abstracts: March 31, 2014

Workshop Date and Venue: June 20, 2014 – University of Bucharest

Please find the call and other information here.

Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation of Higher Education Institutions

Please find here the program of our workshop in Lüneburg on November 21 and 22. We have 14 very interesting presentations and are proud to host international scholars arriving e.g. from Australia, Romania, Canada, the U.S. and Saudi-Arabia. We expect inspiring debates and exchanges of experiences in different national contexts.

If you want to participate in the workshop, please contact Ferdinand Wenzlaff: ferdinand.wenzlaff@leuphana.de.

CfP: Workshop "Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation of Higher Education Institutions"

Higher education research has been investigating institutional changes. However, we know too little about the way higher education institutions cope with these changes by acting strategically and entrepreneurial as well as transforming themselves into new types of organizations. We kindly invite you to submits abstracts for our next workshop on “Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation, of Higher Education Institutions” on november, 21+22, 2013 at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. See the call and further details here. The workshop is part of the BMBF-funded research project RePort.