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Collegiality in modern universities – the composition of governance ideals and practices

Journal article
Authors Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist
Kerstin Sahlin
Published in NordSTEP - Nordic Journal of Studies in Ecucational Policy
Issue 2-3
Publication year 2016
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Language en
Keywords collegiality; university governance; reforms; bureaucracy; management
Subject categories Business Administration


The questions of how universities are governed and how they should be governed have recently gained attention throughout Europe. The history of universities shows a diffused pattern of repeated reform efforts. However, this situation has more or less exploded since the turn of the century, bringing in new modes of organising. In short we can observe a diffusion of more managerial forms of organising, leading to a situation where different governance ideals co-act. In this paper we analyse the interplay of several governance ideals as they play out in practice. We begin and end the essay by noting that collegiality is a modern, efficient and practical form of governance, but it never works entirely on its own; rather it interacts with other modes of governance. After an introduction of diverse modes of governance, analysed as ideal type models, we exemplify how those diverse modes mix in practices of governance and organising. A more theoretical argument that runs through the paper is a critique of the dominance of ideal types of discussions on university governance and in organisation theory more generally, to the extent that those ideal types tend to be reified.

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