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Practices of management knowing in university research management

Paul H.J. Hendriks (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Célio A.A. Sousa (Department of Management Sciences, Research Unit UNICES, ISMAI, Maia Institute of Higher Education, Maia, Portugal)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 17 May 2013



The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into how research managers and directors conceive, adopt and adapt organizational structures to regulate and stimulate academic research.


The study used principles of a grounded theory approach for collecting and analysing data in interviews with research directors and programme managers working at universities within the discipline of Business Administration in The Netherlands.


In total, four clusters of concepts emerged from the data, related to: the definition of organization structures; the effects and by‐products of providing structures; academic research as management object; and using organizational structures. The collected clusters show that research universities adopt all kinds of organization structures (formal, informal, narrow, broad, intentional, emergent) and that the perceptions and practices of research managers are crucial for deciding whether these structures may become “seeding” or “controlling”.


The “practice turn” in organization studies has highlighted how important work practices of individual knowledge workers are, but so far has not paid systematic attention to the role of management, or has even downplayed that role. Structuration, which is a key management domain, is not inherently “good” or “bad” (seeding vs controlling), nor is avoiding structuration. Research managers as quintessential knowledge managers appear centre stage in making structures work or not. What makes structures “seeding” (or not) is their selection, combination, adjustment and/or intentional ignoration in practices of management knowing. An important mechanism is that of negotiation in attempts to accommodate possibly divergent interpretations. The concept of management knowing introduced and elaborated claims that management knowledge and practices are intertwined and not independent management knowledge categories.



Hendriks, P.H.J. and Sousa, C.A.A. (2013), "Practices of management knowing in university research management", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 611-628.



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