Competing institutional logics in universities in the United Kingdom: Schism in the Church of Reason

Robin Shields, Richard Watermeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Theoretical literature on institutions emphasizes the importance of logics - shared rationalizations - in determining many aspects of organizations. In this literature, universities are often discussed as an example of an institution with a particularly strong and cohesive logic, one rooted in notions of academic excellence and the pursuit of universal knowledge. However, more recent literature has argued that multiple institutional logics often compete and conflict with one another in a single organization. In this paper, we use the notion of competing logics to examine how academics in the United Kingdom understand the university as an institution. We perform a factor analysis on questionnaires completed by academics to identify overarching rationalizations of universities. Our analysis suggests three competing logics - autonomy, utilitarianism and managerialism - characterize universities as institutions. We show these multiple logics introduce conflict and paradox into the model of the university, and discuss the practical and theoretical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-17
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Volume45
Issue number1
Early online date1 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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