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Peter Maassen and Bjørn Stensaker

Management ideas often find their way into public organizations. While there is a growing body of research on how such ideas shape and impact the development of larger organizational fields, less attention is being given to how public organizations resist external ideas and practices. In this chapter we focus upon a particular type of public organization, that is, public research universities, and we identify – based on existing research in the field – various strategies whereby universities neutralize management panaceas. In the discussion, it is argued that knowledge about resistance, and not just implementation of management ideas, will create a deeper understanding of the conditions shaping the destiny of management ideas in general.
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Jens Jungblut, Bjørn Stensaker and Martina Vukasovic

One of the most long-lived debates within quality assurance is whether and how control and enhancement are related. This is an important debate related to how improved performance and accountability can best be achieved. While this issue has tended to cause heated public debates, there are fewer empirical studies analysing the relationship between these concepts. In the current chapter we investigate the student perceptions of control and enhancement, and ask whether these concepts are mutually exclusive. Based on a survey targeting European students, our findings suggest that ‘quality assurance as control’ and ‘quality assurance as enhancement’ may not be very relevant concepts from a student perspective. Our analysis suggests that students perceive quality in multiple and quite complex ways, and that pure control or improvement understandings of quality are difficult to identify. An implication of these findings is that quality assurance should be designed in ways that take into account the complexity of higher education and its stakeholders. The chapter ends by reflecting upon possible future directions of quality assurance, not least with respect to how the current interest in student-centred teaching carries the potential of transforming the ways in which higher education is evaluated.