Tag Archives: participation

World-Café „Nachhaltigkeit 2.0“

Nächste Woche veranstaltet das Kompetenzzentrum Nachhaltige Universität einen Workshop. Folgende Fragestellungen sollen mittels der Partizipationsmethode World-Café diskutiert werden:

• Nachhaltigkeit und Zukunftsfähigkeit von Universitäten stellen neue
Anforderungen an das gesamte Hochschulsystem. Welche Herausforderungen und Chancen bieten sich dadurch?
• Wie können Konzepte der Nachhaltigkeit in Forschung und Lehre implementiert
werden?
• Widerspricht eine übergreifend gesetzte Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie an
Universitäten der Autonomie von Forschung und Lehre? Welche Rolle
spielen hier Fakultäten, Fachbereiche und die Hochschulleitung?
• Wie sieht Ihre ‚University for a Sustainable Future’ im Idealfall aus?
Und was würden Sie selbst zur Realisierung Ihrer Vorstellung beitragen
können?

Wir werden sowohl den Prozess als auch die Ergebnisse mit praktischem wie wissenschaftlichem Intersse verfolgen.

Reconceptualizing Sustainable Participation in Universities

The search for sustainable forms of participation in decision-making processes at universities is an ever pending issue in higher education research. Current literature mainly unfolds around questions like: How many members of different internal status groups (e.g. professors, students, academic and non-academic employees) or external stakeholders (e.g. politicians, managers, and cultural representatives) shall compose senates, boards, and councils? Which decision rights should be delegated to these collegiate bodies?

But does the focus on committee-based participation capture the phenomenon of participation in universities? Is consensus-oriented decision making, performed by elected members the only form of participation in universities?

By assuming so, we reduce the concept of participation to its fundamental meaning, as the act of sharing in decision making. Participation in this sense is transactional: formal decision rights are delegated to members of status groups and stakeholders. But if we consider participation as transformational phenomena, as the act of sharing in decision framing, we see multiple forms of participation unfolding in universities: The elaborated system of peer-reviews throughout the academic community that ensures quality of research by participating in its progress. Project-based external funding, tendered by external stakeholders to participate in the setting of research agendas. Comprehensive evaluation-programs that promote student participation in the development of teaching formats and lecture style. In all three examples, formal decision rights remain unshared but the outcome of decisions might get considerably influenced by other actors.

Following this inclusive view, participation is more profound than just face time in a meeting. Instead, each one of the various societal demands on higher education (e.g.  international visibility, regional embeddedness, commercialization of research, lifelong academic education) calls for a different form of participation. Each demand involves different stakeholders and features unique interdependencies. Thus, appropriate forms of sustainable participation co-evlove within these settings.

The transactional concept of participation provides meaningful insights for theory and practice. However, it excludes the illustrated organizational phenomena from analysis. Once we see participation as transformational process, we will be able to take a closer look on how participation really happens in universities.

Engaging Students: Seminar on University Governance

This summer semester, the chair of organization and management will hold a bachelor seminar on university governance. Following the Humboldian ideal of integrated research and teaching, we want students to take an active part in our current research projects. For example, students will examine the role of universities as scientific objects in organization research (e.g. Cohen et al. 1972, Weick 1976), evaluate on opportunities for new ways of participative governance besides elected councils (e.g. Bryson & Anderson 2000), or discuss potential problems of task interdependencies caused by common resources (e.g. Ostrom 2003).

We are looking foreward to conjointly develop creative ideas and further insights on university governance from organization and management perspectives!

  • Bryson, J. M. & Anderson, S. R. (2000). Applying Large-Group Interaction Methods in the Planning and Implementation of Major Change Efforts. Public Administration Review, 60(2): 143-155.
  • Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17(1), 1-25.
  • Ostrom, E. (2003). How Types of Goods and Property Rights Jointly Affect Collective Action. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 15(3), 239-270.
  • Weick, K. E. (1976). Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems. Administrative science quarterly, 21(1), 1–19.