European Review, the journal of the Academia Europaea, just published our article “Governing Collective Action – the Impetus for University Commons”. The Academia Europaea is a European, non-governmental association acting as an academy. Together with the INCHER at Kassel and the Volkswagen Foundation, the Academia Europaea organized a conference on university governance in Hannover in 2016. European Review now published a special issue with all contributions. Our article discusses how different modes of governance facilitate or obstruct collective action in universities. Based on theories of public goods and the resource-based perspective, we develop the concept of university commons in order to analyse the challenges arising from the governance of collective action. We examine how to effectively balance collegial and managerial governance to create a sustainable portfolio of university commons.
The German management journal BFUP – Betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung und Praxis published our qualitative study on university governance. The paper details several mediating tactics of university leaders trying to balance competing and contradictory claims of different stakeholders. Here’s the abstract in English: A central aim of reform aspirations in the higher education sector is to strengthen universities’ capacity to act strategically. Universities receive more institutional autonomy, but have to operationalize and quantify their strategies in target agreements with their federal states. For that reason, many Landeshochschulgesetze (LHG) provide increased control power for the top management of universities. At the same time participative rights of decision for the different academic committees are an integral part of the LHG. Thus, different and contradictory leadership requirements coexist. These contradictory leadership requirements impair top managements’ ability to act strategically. The aim of this article is, firstly, to analyze these contradictions and, secondly, to work out which room for maneuver exists for the governance in universities and how it can be used. We use qualitative Interviews with university top management members to illustrate which tactics they can use to mediate between the contradictory leadership requirements in order to implement strategies.
Access the study here: Woiwode, H., Frost, J. & Hattke, F. (2017): Hochschulleitungen zwischen Repräsentation und Ergebnisorientierung – Handlungs(un)fähigkeiten und Vermittlungstaktiken. In: BFuP – Betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung und Praxis 69(6), 633-652.
The topic of this year’s EFMD Higher Education Research Conference was ‘Innovations in Higher Education’ – the focus was on innovations in forms of governance, management and organisation of higher education institutions and business schools, innovations in education and innovations in research.
The conference took place in Barcelona from 10 – 11 October 2016 and was hosted by the IESE Business School, University of Navarra, on the edge of the beautiful Barcelona. It was the fifth such conference since the beginning in 2012. Presentations span a range of research problems, all addressing in a way the topic of innovation, from different (disciplinary) perspectives and/ or in different research contexts, which raised lively discussions. Interesting keynotes coplemented the conference, e.g., by Della Bradshaw, former business education editor of the Financial Times and one of the architects of the Financial Times 45 list (since 2016 Financial Times 50 list), with her keynote on “What has management education achieved in the last twenty years? What is the future holding for business schools?”.
For more information on next year’s EFMD Higher Education Research Conference, please have a look here.
The closing conference of the program “Performances de la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales” takes place at the University of Bern from 3 – 4 November 2016.
The conference addresses topics such as impact and quality in research in the humanities and the social sciences, excellence in research and societal usefulness, conveying quality of research in political areas and preserving diversity of research in times of excellence categories and rankings. The closing conference presents the results of the program and opens the discussion. It is the conference’s aim to bring together researchers, project leaders and important stakeholders of the Swiss higher education landscape.
- Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria, Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna and Research Director and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva
- Prof. Dr. Peter Dahler-Larsen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, former President of European Evaluation Society
Governing universities is a multi-level as well as a highly paradoxical endeavor. The featured studies in this book examine critically the multifaceted repercussions of changing governance logics and how contradictory demands for scholarly peer control, market responsiveness, public policy control, and democratization create governance paradoxes. While a large body of academic literature has been focusing on the external governance of universities, this book shifts the focus on organizations’ internal characteristics, thus contributing to a deeper understanding of the changing governance in universities.
The book follows exigent calls for getting back to the heart of organization theory when studying organizational change and turns attention to strategies, structures, and control mechanisms as distinctive but interrelated elements of organizational designs. We take a multi-level approach to explore how universities develop strategies in order to cope with changes in their institutional environment (macro level), how universities implement these strategies in their structures and processes (meso level), and how universities design mechanisms to control the behavior of their members (micro level). As universities are highly complex knowledge-based organizations, their modus operandi, i.e. governing strategies, structures, and controls, needs to be responsive to the multiplicity of demands coming from both inside and outside the organization.
Volume 47 of Springer’s Higher Education Dynamics Series advances higher education research by gathering distinguished scholars with an academic background in management and organization studies and a research interest in the dynamics of university governance. Among them are JC Spender, Mats Alvesson, Alfred Kieser, and many more.
From the 6th-8th April 2016 I attended the 11th Annual Conference of the German Association for Higher Education Research (GfHf) in Munich. Several speakers presented interesting research findings concerning new forms of governance in higher education. The subject Areas ranged from governmental control of higher education institutions over academic self-governance to competition in the field of higher education.
Hot topics in higher education research like Quality Management, Third Mission of higher education or University 2.0 were lighted from different disciplinary perspectives and triggered constructive discussions between practitioners and scholars.
I introduced the audience to our current research project “University governance: Hidden tactics in taken-for-granted practices?“ and gained some positive and inspiring feedback.
On the whole it was a inspiring conference!
From 29-30 September 2016 the conference “University Governance: Impeding or Facilitating Creativity” will take place at the Royal Palace of Herrenhausen (Schloss Herrenhausen), Hannover. The conference which is arranged by Academia Europaea, INCHER Kassel and the Volkswagen Foundation deals with the relationship between governance and creativity in higher education and research, two essential requirements of research and higher education.
Researchers will present their findings dealing with issues of governance and creativity in universities and practitioners of the field of higher education leadership will contribute from their practical experiences. In addition the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry in 2014 will present his view on the topic.
The conference promises inspiring presentations and interesting discussions on a topic which is highly relevant for the academic and scientific development! Click here for the Programm and further Information.
Jetta Frost, Markus Reihlen, 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.
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).
The 11th Annual Conference of the German Association for Higher Education Research (Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung GfHf) has announced its call for papers. The conference takes place on April 06-08 2016 at the Bavarian State Institute for Higher Education Studies and Planning (IHF).
The main theme is “New forms of governance in universities and research institutes: Current state of research and future perspectives”. Sub themes are (1) Opportunities and limitations of state involvement (2) External governance (3) Academic self-governance (4) Hierarchical self-governance (5) Competition.
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).
This year’s annual VHB WK Organisation workshop was held at the historical Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena. Around 100 organization researchers and management scholars from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria gathered in the city, in which Wilhelm Alexander von Humboldt and Friedrich Schiller had their disputes on natural sciences and the humanities in the late 18th century. In this blog entry, I’ll report on two aspects from the overall program with its many great presentations, interesting talks and inspiring discussions.
First, in two podium discussions, the WK Organisation harshly criticized the (mis)use of rankings for tenure decisions and the allocation of ressources. Important rankings, such as the VHB journal ranking Jourqual, fail to meet scientific standards of validity and reliability. It was claimed, that the overall attempt to measure research activities does nothing but standardize thinking and thereby hinders the emergence of radical innovations – which is a core purpose of research activities. Besides, rankings are widely deemed unappropriate for a multidisciplinary field like organization research: they compare apples and oranges when multiple paradigms and methods are developed and applied to a variety of contexts and problems. The future will show, how the VHB reacts to these strong arguments and whether the discussion spreads to other commissions in similar vein.
Second, our article on a “micro-foundation of leadership, governance and management in universities” was well received. The shift away from the analysis of legal frameworks towards actual (or in our case: documented) governing behavior sheds light on how macro-orders of new public management translate into communicative relations between governing bodies on the micro-level. Leadership, governance and management forfeit their conflictary logics and form complementary patterns as they unfold in linguistic practices of agenda building, critical reflection, devising, and debriefing to bring forth organizational change. Both, the current political discussion as well as future research might benefit from the analysis.
Am 12.07.2012 fand die Abschlusspräsentation der Ergebnisse des dreijährigen Forschungsprojektes Neue Steuerung von Universitäten – Evaluierung von Governance-Reformen des deutschen Universitätssystems in der Federführung von Prof. Dr. Jörg Bogumil in der Ruhr-Universität-Bochum statt. In einem umfangreichen Survey wurden Rektoren, Kanzler, Dekane und Professoren darüber befragt, ob die durch die durch die 4. Nouvelle des Hochschulrahmengesetzes eingeleitete Reform der Hochschulsteuerung vom “Selbstverwaltungsmodell” zum “Managementmodell” an deutschen Universitäten implementiert wurde und ob die neu eingesetzten Instrumente Wirkungen zeigen.
Die Befragten stimmten grundsätzlich zu, dass die Instrumente der Ziele angemessen sind und ihre Wirkung zeigen. Erstaunlicherweise konnten Varianzen in der Implementierung von Instrumenten weder durch eine Kontrolle der Fächer, noch durch bundeslandspezifische Ausgestaltungen der Hochschulgesetze erklärt werden. Im Rahmen des Projektes konnte darauf bisher keine befriedigende Antwort gefunden werden, doch geben die ergänzenden Fallstudien Aufschluss darüber, dass die Umsetzung sehr stark abhängig von den konkreten Bedingungen der einzelnen Universität ist.
So wurden in zwei Einrichtungen mit ähnlicher Größe, ähnlichem Fächerspektrum und einem ähnlichen formalen Modell (Hierarchie-Ratsmodell mit kompetenzstarken Hochschulräten und Universitätsleitungen nach Otto Hüther 2010) Tiefeninterviews geführt und dabei herausgefunden, dass die Einrichtung aus NRW einer ganzheitlichen Reform unterlag und die Ergebnissteuerung gestärkt sowie die Leistungsorientierung gesteigert wurde, während die bayrische Institution sich allenfalls schleppend verändert. In letzterer wurde der Rektor extern durch den Hochschulrat gegen den Willen des Senats berufen. In der mangelnden Legitimation des Rektors und dem Dissens zum Kanzler wurde eine Erklärung gefunden.
In der Diskussion merkte der Kanzler einer Berliner Hochschule an, dass nicht nur der formal-rechtliche Zwang zum Wandel angeschaut werden müsse, sondern der ökonomische Zwang durch die öffentliche Budgetkürzungspolitik des Landes beachtet werden müsse. Denken wir an die Fusion und Restrukturierung der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg hin zu einem Prototyp einer neuen Hochschulorganisation, so ist die Entschlossenheit und der Erfolg in der Umsetzung auch nicht nur auf rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen zurückzuführen, sondern vielmehr auf die tatsächliche ökonomische Bestandsgefahr, die abgewendet werden musste.
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.
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.