Tag Archives: research

Book published: “Mehrebenen-Steuerung in Universitäten”

Jetta Frost, Markus ReihlenMehrebenensteuerung, Ferdinand Wenzlaff and I just published our book on multi-level governance in universities. It summarizes the main results from our project “RePort” which ended in late 2014. In the book, we analyze how external governance of science determines internal coordination mechanisms. For that purpose, we detail university governance on a macro (strategies to cope with the institutional environment), a meso (structures and processes), and a micro level of analysis (behavior control). The book is in German and published by the Kölner Wissenschaftsverlag. You can order it here. Since the threefold framework (macro-meso-micro) proved to be very useful, we are also working on an edited volume in English using the same structure.

CHESS Talk @ University of Zurich

As reported before, I am currently visiting the Center for Higher Education and Science Studies at the University of Zurich. On October 7th, I will give a talk, titled “Governing universities between profession and organization”. It is concerned with the development of science studies and higher education research and reports on our latest research results. Attendance is free and visitors are welcome! You’ll find the announcement here (only in German).

“Progress Relies on Both”

Reproducibility is a core value of research. An open collaboration of more than 100 authors has recently conducted replications of empirical studies published in psychology journals and found that replication effects are considerably weaker than the original effects. While 97% of original studies had significant results, only 36% of replications had. The authors conclude that journal reviewers and editors may reject replication studies as unoriginal and prefer innovative studies instead. However, “innovation points out paths that are possible; replication points out paths that are likely; progress relies on both.” Read the full paper in Science here.

Forthcoming articles

The following studies on the practical relevance of management research and on university governance have been accepted for publication:

Alfred Kieser, Alexander Nicolai, and David Seidl develop a reAcademy of Management Annals: 11 (2)search program to investigate how the results of scientific research are utilized in management practice. Forthcoming as “The Practical Relevance of Management Research. Turning the Debate on Relevance into a Rigorous Scientific Research Program” in The Academy of Management Annals.


View Articles published in Scandinavian Journal of ManagementBernadette Bullinger, Alfred Kieser, and Simone Schiller-Merkens find rigour and relevance to be embedded in competing institutional logics. Their forthcoming article “Coping with Institutional Complexity: Responses of Management Scholars to Competing Logics in the Field of Management Studies” will be published in the Scandinavian Journal of Management.


Publication CoverFollowing upper echelon theory, Steffen Blaschke and Fabian Hattke analyze how diversity of top management teams in universities relates to improved performance in terms of academic reputation and grant acquisition. The article “Striving for Excellence: The Role of Top Management Team Diversity in Universities” is forthcoming in a special issue of Team Performance Management.

Survey launched: An inquiry into the peer-review system of academic journals

Peer reviewing is a widespread procedure for evaluating the quality of scholarly manuscripts before publication. As such, it is at the heart of academia. Yet, little is known how scholars percieve the peer-review process.

Today, we initiated our survey into the peer-review system from the perspective of those who submit papers to academic journals. The survey asks questions about general attitudes towards your job, your personal experiences with peer reviews, and possible alternatives to the common pre-publication peer review process. We’ll keep you posted on the results!

Business Research at German Universities

The figures below display networks of relations between different fields of business research at public German universities. They visualize how the fields are connected to each other, which fields are stronger embedded and which are peripheral.

Altogether, 1.287 full professors are currently teaching and studying business at 78 institutions. I took their membership in scientific commissions at the German Association for Business Research (VHB) and, in case of no membership, information about their institutes or chairs to specify the fields of research. Each scholar may be affiliated to one or more of the following communities: 1) Banking and Finance, 2) Business Taxation, 3) Academic and Higher Education Management, 4) International Management, 5) Logistics, 6) Marketing, 7) Sustainability Management, 8) Public Business Administration, 9) Operations Research, 10) Organization, 11) Human Resources Management, 12) Production Management, 13) Accounting, 14) Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 15) Business Information Systems, 16) Philosophy of Science and Business Ethics.

The sixteen fields of business research are shown as nodes. The size of a node depends on the number of members in the respective commission. A tie between two nodes indicates a professor’s membership in both communities. Tie strength indicates the number of professors with co-memberships (the stronger the tie, the more co-memberships). The second network displays only ties with more than 10 co-memberships. It’s an arbitrary threshold to provide better visual interpretation.

The biggest community is Accounting (243 members), followed by Organization (229), and Marketing (200). The smallest fields are Academic and Higher Education Management (50) and Public Business Administration (77). It’s obvious that a functional focus is more common than object-oriented specializations. The strongest links exist between Organization and Human Resource Management (96 co-memberships), Production Management and Logistics (65), and Accounting and Business Taxation (61). The most embedded field of reserach is Organization, followed by Production Management. Surprisingly, the two object-oriented fields of Academic and Higher Education Management and Public Business Administration are at the periphery of the network, despite the fact that their operations likely involve most of the other functional areas.


Edited Volume on “The Institutional Development of Business Schools”

BusinessSchoolsBased on the annual EFMD meetings on higher education studies, Andrew Pettigrew, Eric Cornuel, and Ulrich Hommel issued an edited volume on “The Institutional Development of Business Schools” at OUP. The book features a chapter of our work on governing logics in universities, in which we assess organizational change from a communication constitutes organization (CCO) perspective. The book provides novel empirical findings on the change and development of business schools in particular and universities more generally. The book also offers a stimulating critique of some of the intellectual, professional and economic challenges facing business schools in the contemporary world.

IndiKon’s short visit to Munich

The Network for Science Management (Netzwerk Wissenschaftsmanagement) invited us to participate in their annual meeting which took place in Munich last week. The network aims to support the professionalization of administration through regular exchange of ideas and experiences and has, thus, a strong practical focus. Together with Isabel Welpe, Jutta Wollersheim, and Stefanie Ringelhan from the Chair of Strategy and Organization at TU Munich, I was invited to talk about the governance of academic cooperation from a scholarly standpoint.

The research group from Munich held an impressive talk about quantitative assessments of research productivity and possible performance paradoxes, the differing intensity of collaboration between PhD students of economics and among PhD students of management, and the possibilities of new forms of collaboration (e.g. crowd research), publication (e.g. open peer review and open access) and scholarly communication (e.g. web 2.0 applications). If I might say so, their research looks very interesting and especially their new ventures promise relevant insights.

After their talk, I presented the results of two studies which are currently under review for publication (fingers crossed). The studies approach the emerging actorhood of universities from a governance- and a resource-perspective. As already reported earlier, governance reforms in the early 2000s have strenthened managerial mechanisms and delegated decision-competencies to the upper echelons of universities, the president, vice-presidents, and chancellors. So we asked ourselves, whether the composition of this “top management team” has any influence on how successful the university is in acquiring competitive funding for large collaborative projects? The results suggest that socio-demographic diversity of decision-makers has positive effects on performance in that regard. The second study investigates the increasing professionalization of administration in specialized central support units. Results indicate that performance is not always enhanced by these developments. In some cases, voluntary collective action seems to be more important than support from such units. However, we’re currently gathering additional data and running further tests on our models, so the final results may be more rubust and provide further clarity.

There was broad consensus about the implications of the first study. Some were reminded of Niklas Luhmann who stated that complexity can only be reduced by complexity – a nice thought, indeed. The results of the second study were, not surprisingly, seen a little bit more controversial. I’m grateful for this opportunity to discuss our research with practitioners in the field (many thanks to Dr. Brauns from the Thuringian Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture).

A piece on editorial governance

As our IndiKon project proceeds, it splits up into several sub-projects, one of which is concerned with the hidden drivers of journal rankings. Such rankings are increasingly important elements of performance management systems in higher education. We are now in the midst of gathering data on the composition of editorial boards, and we are truly amazed by the great variety of different roles, functions and bodies in the editorial governance of journals. Here is a selection (making no claim to be exhaustive):

Area Editor, Associate Editor, Associate Editor Board, Associate Editor ex officio, Associate Editor for Reviews, Board of Professionals, Book Review Board, Book Review Editor, Co-Editor, Consulting Editor, Contributing Editor, Coordinating Editor, Copy Editor, Cross-National Studies Editor, Department Editor, Deputy Editor, Editor, Editor Elect, Editor Emeritus, Editor-at-Large, Editorial Advisor, Editorial Advisory Board, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Board, Editorial Coordinator, Editorial Manager, Editorial Review Board, Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief Elect, Executive Board, Executive Director, Executive Editor, Executive Editorial Board, Feature Editor, Former Editor, Former Editor-in-Chief, Founding Editor, General Editor, Graphics Editor, Honorary Editor, Incubator, Joint Editor, Managing Editor, Managing Editor Emeritus, Manuscript Editor, Past Editor, Past Editor-in-Chief, Point-Counterpoint Editor, Policy Board, Product Editor, Production Coordinator, Production Editor, Production Manager, Regional Assistant Editors, Regional Editor, Reviewing Editor, Section Editor, Senior Advisory Board, Senior Associate Editor, Senior Editor, Special Adviser, Special Editor, Special Projects Manager, Subject Area Associate Editor, Technical Editor, Web Editor.

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.

Papers for this year’s EGOS conference (or: The evolution of paper titles)

As you might have noticed, our blog has become somewhat quiet recently. But the hot summer is not the (only) reason.. During the past weeks, we’ve been busy crafting our papers for this year’s EGOS conference.

As you’ll know from your own experience, the title of a short paper may change significantly when it is developed towards a full paper. The story gets a new twist, is enlarged or further condensed, theoretical constructs may change, and conceptual frameworks are specified. And sometimes empirical observations just won’t tell the story you’ve expected in the first place..

So here’s the list of our short and full paper titles:

Short: Organizational responses to evaluations, rankings and performance indicators – Evidence from French and German universities. Full: Organizational Responses to Institutional Complexity – Evidence from French and German Universities.

Short: How Rankings Impede Scientific Progress. Full: What Makes Journals Highly Ranked? A Bibliometric Analysis of Management and Organization Studies.

Short: University commons: An empirical analysis of collective resources in German universities. Full: Organizing Collective Action? An Empirical Analysis of Common Goods in German Universities.

Publication in "Higher Education"

Our research on university goverance has led to another publication: Blaschke, Frost & Hattke: “Towards a micro foundation of leadership, governance, and management in universities”. In the article, we adress the gap between governance research on the institutional level and research on a behavioral level. The Communication as Constitutive of Organization (CCO) – perspective leads the way. See the article online first.

Impressions from Bremen WK HSM / Best Paper Award for Katrin Obermeit

On February 21st and 22nd Katrin Obermeit, Fabian Hattke, Ferdinand Wenzlaff, Johan Bronstein and myself attended the 16th Workshop for Higher Education Management at the Univesity of the Arts in Bremen.

The audience got an impression about a wide range of research on topics concerning the management of higher education institutions. The lectures dealt with philosophical-analytical topics, such as the presentation of Stefan Heinemann,who sensitized the audience for the importance of a systematic reflection on ethical questions in higher education management, conceptual works, such as the presentation of Johan Bronstein and Ferdinand Wenzlaff, who showed the audience how Literature dealing with strategic management of universities can be systemized, political problems, such as the presentation of Walter Dörhage, who presented problems that emerge out of the growing social structural heterogeneity and diversity of students, and empirical issues, such as the presentation of Fabian Hattke, who showed that the diversity of top management teams in german universities influences the chance to succeed in the “Exzellence Initiative”.

Katrin Obermeit presented her mental models of study choice. Katrin won the best paper award and can supply her colleagues at the University of Lüneburg with high-quality coffee and cacao in the next weeks. Congratulations Katrin!

On the whole it was a really inspiring workshop with a lot of interesting and fruitful discussions. We’re looking forward to the next workshop!

Some Details on the “RePort” Literature Database (Part II)

Let’s take a closer look at the scholars behind the publications. For that purpose, I’ve inverted the network from the last post . Now, vertices represent authors and a tie indicates a journal, in which both authors have published. The ties are stronger if both authors wrote several articles for the same journals. The size of a node represents the number of articles in our database from that particular author.

01_Authors-Net-TS-SourceAgain, we can identify our four clusters:1) Upper left: sociological studies 2) Upper right: organization and management studies 3) Lower left: research on higher education management and 4) Lower right: studies on technology transfer and science communication.

Now, a high betweenness centrality of an author indicates boundary spanning research by contributing to journals in different discourses. The authors with the highest betweenness are: 1 Cynthia Hardy (1350), 2 Loet Leydesdorff (723), 3 Ase Gornitzka (643), 4 Georg Krücken (627) and 5 Karl Weick (610). If an author has a high degree centrality (i.e. the node has many direct ties) he or she is well connected in terms of journal diversity. In contrast to the betweenness measure, diversity in this case most likely refers to journal diversity within a certain discourse. The top five authors according to degree centrality are: 1 Barbara Sporn (27), 2 Royston Greenwood (26), 3 Georg Krücken (24), 4 Dennis Gioia (22), 5 Christopher Hinnings (22).

Of course, the shown results are limited in terms of generalizability. The measures reflect only a part of the authors’ works and should not be interpreted as an indicator for performance. Besides, the network is only based on 68.6% (more like 40%, since I’ve removed quite some isolates) of all the publications that happend to find their way into our database, which, obviously, is pre-selected by subjective preferences for specific theories, contexts, and methods. However, the networks provide useful information about the foundations of our work at a glance. I wonder how the actual collaboration network looks like..

Some Details on the “RePort” Literature Database (Part I)

Over the past three years, we have gathered and sighted literature related to higher education governance and the organization of knowledge work. Now, it is time to open the black box and take a look into a good part of the research that our work is based on. In the RePort project, we’ve used Mendeley as a collaborative tool, which helped us to consolidate publications from the Leuphana and Hamburg teams.

Almost 1,400 authors contributed to 930 studies (avg. 1.5 authors per publication). The most common form of publication is journal articles (68.6%), followed by chapters in edited volumes (14.5%). Monographs (7.2%), working papers (4.8%), project reports (1.8%), dissertations (1.7%), and conference proceedings (1.4%) are of less importance.

00_Journals-Net-TS-SourceThe figure displays a network of related journals in our database. The journals are shown as nodes (the size depends on the number of articles in the respective journal). The authors are displayed as ties between the nodes. Two journals are connected if one author contributed an article to both journals. The tie strength indicates if more than one author has published in both journals. The resulting network displays denser clusters of stronger interrelated journals and structural holes with no author connecting the journals. We identify four clusters (three large and one small) in the network. They can be interpreted as outlets for four distinct groups of scholars.

1) Upper right: studies on technology transfer and science communication.
2) Upper left: research on higher education management.
3) Lower right: organization and management studies.
4) Lower left: sociological studies.

The most important journals in terms of betweenness centrality (i.e. the number of shortest paths from all nodes to all others that pass through that node) are: Academy of Management Review (401), Higher Education (327), Research Policy (227). These journals attract scholars from different discourses.

Note that the network only covers a small part of the database, since it only contains journal publications. Besides, a threshold was set for 2 authors. Journals with only one author contributing an article to another journal in the database or journals without a connecting author at all (“isolates”) were eliminated for better visualization.

RePort & IndiKon @ EGOS

Our joint projects are represented at this years EGOS conference in Rotterdam. Here’s a short summary of our activities:

Alfred Kieser is chairing a track together with Lars Engwall and Richard Whitley on “Universities in Unsettled Times: Effects of Evaluations, Accreditations and Rankings” (see this post for the cfp).

A research collaboration that started at last years EURAM conference has led to first results. Markus, Ferdinand and myself are co-authoring a paper from Anne Riviere and Marie Boitier (both Toulouse Business School) entitled: “Organizational responses to evaluations, rankings and performance indicators – evidence from French and German Universities”.

Rick and Alfred will evaluate “How rankings impede scientific progress” – a major concern of both, scientists and policy makers.

Together with Jetta and Steffen, I’ll elaborate our theoretical reasoning on university commons by using empirical data: “Universities commons: An empirical analysis of  collective resources in German universities”.

Last but not least, Markus and Ferdinand will present their paper “From institutional contradictions to organizational transformation: The case of a university merger” in Sub-theme 23: Public Sector Reforms and Organizational Responses: Comparing Universities and Hospitals.

So, plenty of opportunities to meet, discuss, work, laugh & chat @ Rotterdam! Hope to see you there.