European Universities in Transition
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European Universities in Transition

Issues, Models and Cases

Edited by Carmelo Mazza, Paolo Quattrone and Angelo Riccaboni

This timely and important book provides a critical analysis of the changes and challenges that currently affect European universities. Using both theoretical contributions and applied case studies, leading experts argue that universities as institutions are in need of change – although the routes that the process may take are heterogeneous.
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Chapter 10: Managing Modernization: Introducing Performance Management in British Universities

Tom Keenoy and Michael I. Reed


Tom Keenoy and Michael I. Reed I sort of have maxims in my mind – one of them from Oliver Cromwell I had pinned up on my desk for a long time: ‘Think ye in the bowels of Christ ye may be wrong’ [laughs]. (Academic-Manager) INTRODUCTION The emergence of the discourse of ‘modernization’ has been a core theme in the reform of public sector management in the UK since the 1980s. Successive British governments have sought to improve performance through various initiatives known collectively as the ‘new public management’ and these have resulted in the reconfiguration of daily routines across the public sector. More specifically, virtually all the changes involve the introduction of performance targets and a variety of ‘league tables’ which are projected as indicators of organizational and individual progress. Collectively, these developments may be seen to represent the extent to which Britain has become an ‘audit society’ (Exworthy and Halford, 1998; Ferlie et al., 1996; Power, 1997, 2001; Reed, 2002). Since 1989, UK universities have become subject to a range of governmentdriven new managerialist policy scripts which now inhabit every corner of managerial policy and practice (Deem, 1998). The regulatory body, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (similar bodies exist for Wales and Scotland), offers an extensive and ever-elaborating stream of advice on everything from governance to purchasing and, every year, conducts an intrusive audit which scrutinizes every aspect of university managerial policy, procedures and performance (HEFCE, 2005). Arguably, these performance management practices are more...

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