Valuation Ecologies and Academic Governance
Keywords:strategic expediency, value judgment, governance, publication strategy, useless arithmetic
University managers are forced to assume responsibility for more and more aspects of academic life. This essay focuses on academic publishing and how deans and department heads attempt to manage the volume and quality of publications at their university because others, including politicians and scholars, rate the quality and effectiveness of the university on their publication output. How managers assume and practice this responsibility for academic publishing may seem self-evident but proves to hide both paradoxes and loopholes. Reflections build on an empirical illustration derived from the adoption of a conventional publication strategy. The implementation of this strategy is fueled by a large dose of strategic expediency. However, such expediency incurs costs related to impression management when managers need to show a sense of command in response to a disappointing performance. Both material costs (time and money) and symbolic costs (demonstrating allegiance to an embarrassingly naive conception of academia) are incurred. Exactly because management is exercised on the premise of an embarrassingly naive conception of academia, the presumed coercive forces are exceedingly loose and ineffective. The room for value judgment at all levels of the university organization is not closed but rather enshrined (for good or bad) behind a façade of objectivity and factuality.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Kristian Kreiner
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