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 12: The Structure and Significance of the Italian Research Assessment Exercise (VTR)

Eliana Minelli, Gianfranco Rebora and Matteo Turri


12. The structure and significance of the Italian research assessment exercise (VTR)1 Eliana Minelli, Gianfranco Rebora and Matteo Turri 1. INTRODUCTION Thirty years after the first experience of research assessment in Europe, Italy has recently completed its first research exercise (VTR). This chapter discusses its strong and weak points and pays particular attention to the growing importance of evaluation and the innovations introduced in the evaluation of university activities in Italy. In particular the question will be raised as to whether the VTR reflects the principles of New Public Management (NPM) (Hood, 1991; Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2000) regarding evaluation in Italian universities. These principles foresee passing from preventive controls based on legitimacy, a respect for form and the adoption of pre-established behaviour to subsequent controls based on assessment of performance. In the past decades growing attention has been paid to assessment of the quality of university research (Handerson et al., 1990; Lange, 2006). This is in fact extremely complex due to factors such as the great wealth of competences involved, the propensity for innovation and experimentation that make each project unique and unrepeatable (Rebora, 2003), the difficulty in grasping the true potential of the results in the short term and the need to organize research teams working on the same project (Harvey et al., 2002). Research assessment does however have the advantage of being able to highlight results in a well-defined simple way by means of scientific publications whose standard and reputation reflect...

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