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Making sense of academic work: the influence of performance measurement in Swedish universities
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Learning.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4280-9866
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Learning.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2983-5573
2019 (English)In: Policy Reviews in Higher Education, ISSN 2332-2969, p. 75-93Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on data from interviews conducted with 14 academic managers at two Swedish universities, this article investigates the consequences of the increasing prevalence of performance measurement in the higher education sector. The study contributes to the discussion of how performance measurement impacts academic work, focusing specifically on its influence on how meaning is created and recreated by academic managers. By applying the sensemaking perspective, as proposed by Weick ([1995. Sensemaking in Organizations. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications]), the article explores seven properties of the sensemaking process. The study results demonstrate the influence of metrics on the process by which managers give meaning to academic work. Performance measures are interpreted by academic managers as important in acquiring resources, supporting decision-making, and enhancing organisational legitimacy. They also reinforce social scripts of competition and success, although they are often understood as being unable to indicate scientific quality. The consequence for sensemaking in teaching and research activities is that measurable performance is understood to be increasingly important. However, a notable finding from the study is that the managers are aware of how metrics promote specific forms of academic work and often attempt to balance these incentives by acknowledging the values and priorities that these metrics are unable to assess. This finding highlights the important role of academic managers as they counteract some of the pressure caused by various performance measures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. p. 75-93
Keywords [en]
Performance measures, higher education, universities, sensemaking
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-244856DOI: 10.1080/23322969.2018.1564354OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-244856DiVA, id: diva2:1292952
Note

QC 20190305

Available from: 2019-03-01 Created: 2019-03-01 Last updated: 2019-03-05Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf