While the formal structures of universities may predominantly reflect ceremonial rather than functional purposes, attempts at changing them are usually a fertile ground for academic conflicts. Taking this apparent contradiction as a starting point, the aim of this article is to explore the intriguing role of formal structures in academic settings. Drawing on a case study of a merger and organizational restructuring process in an academic research centre, it shows how symbolic responses to institutional pressures may have actual consequences on research practices, beyond myth and ceremony.
This article draws data from a research project funded by the European Commission (PRIME Network of excellence). I also acknowledge additional support from ENS Lyon, IFE and CNRS (Chair on Higher Education & Research Policy) and I thank Pierre Barrier and Barbara Bovy for their participation to data collection. Participants to the ‘Organizing Science’ Subtheme at 2012 EGOS conference provided helpful comments on a preliminary version of this article. Many thanks to Jochen Gläser, Grit Laudel, Uwe Schimank, Richard Whitley, and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments on earlier versions.
Barrier, J. (2014), "Merger Mania in Science: Organizational Restructuring and Patterns of Cooperation in an Academic Research Centre", Organizational Transformation and Scientific Change: The Impact of Institutional Restructuring on Universities and Intellectual Innovation (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 42), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 141-172. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20140000042005
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