“Us Versus Them!” … Or …? Exploring Coordination practices as a Pathway to Sustainable Universities

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1 Single abstract for the CUC (Creative University Conference), August 2016 UNIVERSITIES AS ORGANIZATIONS FOR MARKETIZATION AND SELF-BRANDING. Bente Elkjaer and Niels Christian Mossfeldt Nickelsen Contact author: elkjaer@edu.au.dk“Right. As long as you have access to a telephone, a Xerox machine, and a conference grant fund, you’re OK, you’re plugged into the university that really matters – the global campus” (Lodge, 1985: 44)Knowledge production through innovation and learning appear crucial in contemporary knowledge based economies (Edmondson, 2012), and universities are ascribed a central role in this endeavor (Bleiklie & Byrkjeflot, 2002). One of the ways this has shown is through politically implemented new ways in which to manage universities in order to make them fulfil their contribution to societies (Carney, 2006; Deem, 2001; Halvorsen & Nyhagen, 2011; Wright & Ørberg, 2008). The Danish University system has not been exempted from this worldwide development, and in 2003 the university system in Denmark was changed from one in which managers at all levels were elected amongst peers to a system where a Board with a majority of external members (i.e. people who are not employed at the university) is the highest authority of the university. The result is that we as university scholars within the last 10-15 years have witnessed an increased emphasis on ‘professional management’ occupied with formulations of distinct strategic goals in combination with a more closely monitoring of quantitative measurements of research outputs (Wright, 2011) and the demands of adaptation to international and standardized ranking systems (Czarniawska, 2015) through for example lists of which publication outlets count and not count as well as a steady stream of invitations to answer surveys on our knowledge of the reputation of universities.The purpose with the paper is to discuss how this increased emphasis upon the professionalization of management and a strategic marketization of universities (Czarniawska & Genell, 2002; Kallio, Kallio, Tienari, & Hyvönen, 2016) will influence universities’ abilities to2maintain their pivotal position with regard to production of new knowledge and learning. The question is whether the ‘plurality of thoughts’ (Kallio et al., 2016: 702) and the ‘intellectual model’ of the university (O’Byrne & Bond, 2014: 572) will be squeezed in professional management, measurement and ranking with innovative learning and knowing as the losers.Some dilemmas appear to be interesting in this debate both with regard to what drives scholarship, learning and knowledge production, and to the contemporary organization of scholars. With regard to the latter, we believe that it is important to recall that university scholars are not only embedded in their home-university but also participants in worldwide social worlds of scholars within their fields of inquiry and a competitive market for university scholars. This may for example be exemplified through not only citation indexes but also through the many competitions in which scholars are invited to vote for other scholars’ work in order to be nominated as the ‘author of the year’ or similar prizes. With regard to what drives scholarship, learning and knowledge production, we understand this as both driven by exploration and experimentation (Dewey, 1913 [1979], 1922 [1988]) as well as struggles for visibility, attention and recognition (Merton, 1968, 1988) and even aspirations for celebrity (Van Krieken, 2012).The theoretical framework that informs the paper is both a pragmatist inspired understanding of organizations as “people doing things together” (Becker, 1986; Hughes, 2015), learning and knowing as driven by tensions (Brandi & Elkjaer, 2013; Elkjaer, 2005; Elkjaer & Huysman, 2008) and passions (Dey & Steyaert, 2007; Gherardi, Nicolini, & Strati, 2007). This will allow us to both look at the organizing processes amongst scholars but also how the university as an organization of knowledge production organize around this pursuit, for example with regard to support mechanisms for scholarly research. Theories on how the branding of selves unfold in academia (see for example Wirtén, 2015), and how this may be supported by the web-based platforms (Marwick, 2013; Senft, 2013) also inform the research in order to help interpret how scholars’ own participation in marketization through branding of selves may be understood.The methodology is based upon a reading of books, reports, papers and articles on the changes of management at universities and the dilemma of university scholars to adapt to these changes. For example, it may be observed how the demands for Open Access to knowledge and new network sites for academics (for example ResearchGate and Academia.edu) (Thelwall & Kousha, 2014, 2015) may act as a way in which academic scholars gain not only voice and visibility amongst3peers but also easy access to a worldwide market of knowledge. The new media platforms allow for work to be cited, uploaded, spread and measured by other members of the field of inquiry in order for university scholars to not only brand themselves in a competitive market for knowledge. This latter may also be captured in a competitive or a collaborative ethos of scholarship, or maybe best as a balance between the two (Kallio et al., 2016).The results are to re-consider what sort of organizing may benefit universities when innovative and competitive learning and knowing is the aim bearing in mind that university scholars not only serve organizational but also their own interests, which are situated in both markets and their fields of inquiry and their social worlds of peers. So, basically it is a paper highlighting the relationship between the employing organization (in case universities) and the employed person (in case university scholars) with a focus upon universities as organizations for learning and knowledge production.The limitations may be that the paper is a discursive voice into a field of many voices and as such does not represent a cumulative ‘truth’ – but a voice.The implications are to consider looking at the organizing processes of university scholars and knowledge production, for example to map how the support system for research in universities works to enhance scholarly learning and knowing, and how scholars participate in the marketization of selves and knowledge production.The originality lies in the reconsiderations of how management and marketization also taps into scholars as part hereof, not only out of compliance (Alvesson & Spicer, 2016), but also as active participants and with own aspirations for celebrity.4ReferencesAlvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2016). (Un)Conditional surrender? Why do professionals willingly comply with managerialism. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 29(1), 29-45. doi:doi:10.1108/JOCM-11-2015-0221Becker, H. S. (1986). Doing things together: Selected papers. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Bleiklie, I., & Byrkjeflot, H. (2002). Changing knowledge regimes: Universities in a new research environment. Higher Education, 44(3-4), 519-532. doi:10.1023/A:1019898407492Brandi, U., & Elkjaer, B. (2013). Organisational Learning: Knowing in Organising. In M. Kelemen & N. Rumens (Eds.), American Pragmatism and Organization. Issues and Controversies (pp. 147-161). Dorchester, UK: Gower.Carney, S. (2006). University Governance in Denmark: From Democracy to Accountability? European Educational Research Journal, 5(3-4), 221-233. doi:10.2304/eerj.2006.5.3.221Czarniawska, B. (2015). University fashions. On ideas whose time has come. In P. Gibbs, O.-H. Ylijoki, C. Guzmán-Valenzuela, & R. 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The troubadours of knowledge: Passion and invention in management education. Organization, 14(3), 437-461.Edmondson, A. C. (2012). Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate, and compete in the knowledge economy. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.Elkjaer, B. (2005). From Digital Administration to Organisational Learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 17(8), 533-544.Elkjaer, B., & Huysman, M. (2008). Social Worlds Theory and the Power of Tension. In D. Barry & H. Hansen (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of New Approaches in Management and Organisation (pp. 170-177). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.Gherardi, S., Nicolini, D., & Strati, A. (2007). The passion for knowing. Organization, 14(3), 315-329.Halvorsen, T., & Nyhagen, A. (Eds.). (2011). Academic Identities—Academic Challenges? American and European Experience of the Transformation of Higher Education and Research: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Hughes, J. (2015). Looking elsewhere: Howard S. Becker as unwilling organisational theorist. 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Bruns (Eds.), A companion to new media dynamics (pp. 346-354). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.Thelwall, M., & Kousha, K. (2014). Academia.edu: Social network or Academic Network? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(4), 721-731. doi:10.1002/asi.23038Thelwall, M., & Kousha, K. (2015). ResearchGate: Disseminating, communicating, and measuring Scholarship? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(5), 876-889.Van Krieken, R. (2012). Celebrity society. London and New York: Routledge.Wirtén, E. H. (2015). Making Marie Curie: intellectual property and celebrity culture in an age of information. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Wright, S. (2011). Universitets performancekrav. Viden der tæller. In K. M. Bovbjerg, S. Wright, J. Krause-Jensen, J. B. Krejsler, L. Moos, G. Brorholt, & K. L. G. Salamon (Eds.), Motivation og mismod. Effektivisering og stress på offentlige arbejdspladser (pp. 211-235). 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Original languageEnglish
Publication year18 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2016
EventCreative University Conference (CUC), AAU - Aalborg University, Rendsburggade 14, 9000, Aalborg , Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 18 Aug 201619 Aug 2016


ConferenceCreative University Conference (CUC), AAU
LocationAalborg University, Rendsburggade 14, 9000, Aalborg

    Research areas

  • Organisationsudvikling

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 98390366