With some delay to Ferdinand’s report, but here they are: our impressions from the EGOS colloquium in Rotterdam, Netherlands. IndiKon’s Alfred Kieser (Zeppelin University) co-chaired the track “Universities in Unsettled Times: Effects of Evaluations, Accreditations and Rankings” together with Richard Whitley (University of Manchester) and Lars Engwall (Uppsala University). The sub-theme’s program covered a broad range of topics relating to current reforms in higher education systems around the world. We presented our paper “What makes journals highly ranked?” and received valuable comments from the other participants. The positive feedback encourages us to continue with this sub-project on a broader database and with new bibliometric indicators. Jessica Petersen (Zeppelin University) and Fabian Hattke (University of Hamburg) will join us in our efforts.
One of the most striking insights I had in the course of the three days was the following: Much is written about the impact of performance management systems in higher education on the professional identities of academics, and many authors argue that the new managerialism in universities is a serious threat to academic identities. However, as Richard Whitley and others argued, performance management systems may also strengthen the commitment of scholars to their professional communities. If performance measurement is based on rankings, elements of peer control within scientific communities become incorporated into output-based control systems of universities. Since rankings reflect the stated or revealed preferences of scholarly groups (i.e., invisible colleges), their professional standards gain in importance for, and are appreciated by, performance appraisals in universities (i.e., visible colleges). This, in turn, may even elevate the professional identities of scholars. For me, this is a nice thought worth examining empirically.