Academic Institutions in Search of Quality: Local Orders and Global Standards
AbstractQuality judgments in terms of academic standards of excellence required by external stakeholders such as labour markets and steering hierarchies obviously exert strong pressure on universities. Do they generate an "iron cage" effect imposing a passive and uniform conformity on global standards? The paper examines the organization of higher education and research set-ups with a strong lens. What does academic quality actually mean when observed in the field? How do universities and their subunits - professional schools, colleges, etc - actually achieve what they call quality? A methodological and analytical framework is tested. Three sociological concepts - diversity, recognition, local order - make it possible to build four ideal-types applicable to comparative inquiry. Such a typology identifies the interdependencies existing between how they position themselves with respect to quality dimensions and internal organizational measures. The paper contributes to a broader organizational study agenda: how local orders face and deal with market and hierarchy dynamics in a global world of apparently increasing standardization under pressure from soft power. It questions the effect of the "iron cage" hypothesis. It lists a series of changing patterns or dynamics between types of universities in terms of quality sensitivity, fabrication and content. Diversity and standardization in fact coexist.
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Date of creation: 2013
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Publication status: Published, Organization Studies, 2013, 34, 2, 189-218
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Local orders; academic quality; global standardization; ideal-type approaches; organizational diversity;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-10-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2013-10-25 (Education)
- NEP-SOG-2013-10-25 (Sociology of Economics)
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