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Informed by multiple disciplines, theories, and methods, higher education scholars have developed a robust and diverse literature in many countries. Yet, some important …
Informed by multiple disciplines, theories, and methods, higher education scholars have developed a robust and diverse literature in many countries. Yet, some important (organizational) sociological perspectives, both more established and more recent, are insufficiently linked. In particular, we identify two theoretical strands – institutional and relational – that, when joined, help to explain contemporary developments in global higher education and yield new organizational insights. We review relevant literature from each perspective, both in their general formulations and with specific reference to contemporary higher education research. Within the broad institutional strand, we highlight strategic action fields, organizational actorhood, and associational memberships. Within the relational strand, we focus on ties and relationships that are especially crucial as science has entered an age of (inter)national research collaboration. Across these theories, we discuss linkages between concepts, objects, and levels of analysis. We explore the methodological approach of social network analysis as it offers great potential to connect these strands and, thus, to advance contemporary higher education research in a collaborative era.
Financial accounting necessarily depends on an entity assumption that shapes the way it recognizes and accounts for organizational exchanges with social environments. It…
Financial accounting necessarily depends on an entity assumption that shapes the way it recognizes and accounts for organizational exchanges with social environments. It thereby constructs boundaries and frames permeability in terms of what counts, is accounted for, as being inside and outside of the organization. Yet there are different possible entity concepts reflecting different values about the relationship between the organizational entity and society. This essay considers four problem areas in which these values and the entity–society relationship are at stake within financial accounting: the problem of control within group accounting; accounting for externalities; the economization of public organizations; and the construction of organizational actorhood. These four problematics suggest that financial accounting, its boundary determining assumptions, and the forms of organizational permeability it permits are deeply intertwined and subject to continuous pressure for change.
Widespread forces of cultural rationalization have combined with parallel expansions in the legitimated actorhood of human persons. The result has been an explosion of…
Widespread forces of cultural rationalization have combined with parallel expansions in the legitimated actorhood of human persons. The result has been an explosion of formalized organization. Empowered organizations, filled with empowered actors, rise and expand in every social sector and every society. The expanded cultural principles involved lead many actors to play roles as “others,” helping individual and organizational actors to fill their often implausibly expanded roles. The chapters of this volume reflect the processes involved.
One of the dominant features of the age of globalization is the rampant expansion of organization. In particular, formal, standardized, rationalized, and empowered forms…
One of the dominant features of the age of globalization is the rampant expansion of organization. In particular, formal, standardized, rationalized, and empowered forms of organization expand in many domains and locales. We discuss these features of organization, showing that hyper-rationalization and actorhood are main themes of organization across presumably distinct social sectors and national societies. We explain the ubiquity of such organizational forms in institutional terms, seeing the global culture of universalism, rationality, and empowered actorhood as supporting the diffusion of managerial roles and perspectives.
Recent research develops theory and evidence to understand how organizations come to be seen as “actors” with specified features and properties, a core concern for…
Recent research develops theory and evidence to understand how organizations come to be seen as “actors” with specified features and properties, a core concern for phenomenological institutionalism. The authors use evidence from changes in research designs in the organizational study of institutional logics as an empirical strategy to add fresh evidence to the debates about the institutional construction of organizations as actors. The case is the research literature on the institutional logics perspective, a literature in which organizational and institutional theorists grapple with long-time social theory questions about nature and context of action and more contemporary debates about the dynamics of social orders. With rapid growth since the early 1990s, this research program has elaborated and proliferated in ways meant to advance the study of societal orders, frames, and practices in diverse inter- and intra-organizational contexts. The study identifies two substantive trends over the observation period: A shift in research design from field-level studies to organization-specific contexts, where conflicts are prominent in the organization, and a shift in the conception of logic transitions, originally from one dominant logic to another, then more attention to co-existence or blending of logics. Based on this evidence, the authors identify a typology of four available research genres that mark a changed conception of organizations as actors. The case of institutional logics makes visible the link between research designs and research outcomes, and it provides new evidence for the institutional processes that construct organizational actorhood.
This paper explores how public audit institutions establish themselves as distinct actors on the public stage through communication practices. By focussing on the journey…
This paper explores how public audit institutions establish themselves as distinct actors on the public stage through communication practices. By focussing on the journey of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), this paper addresses the following research question: how does a transnational audit institution construct its actorhood through visual communication practices?
Using the theoretical framework of actorhood theory and inspired by the visual accounting methodology, this study explores the ECA actorhood journey through the visual analysis of front pages of its official journal (ECA Journal) from its inception in 2009 up to 2019. The visual analysis is conducted through content analysis and a two-step cluster analysis.
By showing how combinations of different visual artefacts have evolved over time, this study highlights the ways transnational public audit institutions, such as the ECA, construct their actorhood and position themselves on the public stage. It further reveals the underlying legitimacy mechanisms through which organisations such as the ECA position themselves in the public eye.
This study sheds light on the depiction of individuals and their contexts in interaction with each other and how this interaction reveals the development of the actorhood journey of the ECA over time.
Institutions are collective responses to collective concerns, with the underlying link between concern and response being the purpose of the institution. With this…
Institutions are collective responses to collective concerns, with the underlying link between concern and response being the purpose of the institution. With this conceptual lens, we analyze the history of the Aktiengesellschaft (AG), which emerged in Austria and Germany around 1800. While any analysis of the organizational features of the form would have diagnosed marked stability over the past two centuries, our historical study reveals significant shifts of the AG’s purpose and meaning: from a vehicle in the service of the public interest, shareholders, and employees to a persona with legitimate self-interests and the will to survive. We suggest to regard such purpose drifts as distinct variant of institutional change. In addition, we conclude that the AG’s essentially political actorhood institutionalizes the ever fragile and delicate quest for a balance between the different legitimate interests on whose behalf a corporation acts (including those of the self). Such a view, we argue, can offer a future for the corporation as organizational form.
University governance is constantly challenged by changing expectations and contexts. New, prestigious and well-endowed funding schemes are one possible source of pressure…
University governance is constantly challenged by changing expectations and contexts. New, prestigious and well-endowed funding schemes are one possible source of pressure for change of university governance. This article analyses the impact of one such scheme, the grants of the European Research Council (ERC), on the governance of European universities. After outlining a model of how this impact on universities can be expected to occur, we present the results of an exploratory study at a very early stage of the ERC’s existence (2010–2011). The empirical analysis is based on an investigation of 11 universities in eight countries, which shows that different kinds of universities are affected in varied and often unexpected ways, with particular differences arising at different levels within the universities.
Recent reforms to higher education systems in many OECD countries have focused on making universities more effective organisations in competing for resources and…
Recent reforms to higher education systems in many OECD countries have focused on making universities more effective organisations in competing for resources and reputations. This has often involved increasing their internal cohesion and external autonomy from the state to make them more similar to private companies. However, pre-reform universities differed so greatly in their governance and capabilities that the impact of institutional changes has varied considerably between three ideal types: Hollow, State-chartered, and Autarkic. Furthermore, the combination of: (a) the inherent uncertainty of scientific research undertaken for publication, (b) limited managerial control over work processes and reputations, and (c) the contradictory effects of some funding and governance changes has greatly restricted the ability of universities to function as authoritatively integrated organisations capable of developing distinctive competitive competences.