DCC Séminaire de recherche - Kari Lukka - Turku University
Safeguarding the unknown? Quality of research in the performance measurement era at universities
Monday 1 October 2018 (17h15 - 19h00) - Anthropole - 3185
In this study we examine the practical meaning and employment of the notion of research quality in the academe. This study is inspired by a worry that the difficult-to-define notion of quality in research is potentially getting too simplistically determined by its measurable proxies, and whether academics, especially manager-academics, realise this risk, and how they deal with it. While previous studies provide relatively good visibility to the landscape of performance measurement in the university sector, we know little about how performance measurement systems (PMS) are mobilized locally, especially as comes to how one of the fundamental virtues of scientific work, that of quality, is perceived and managed. To examine these matters empirically, we conducted a comparative case study of two university faculties in a European country. Despite differences in the local PMS, manager-academics are found to have rather similar understandings of the meaning of quality in research. However, there were variations in the willingness and perceived need to exert their agency regarding how quality is operationalised. This is seen to be partly a function of how restrictive the local PMS is in terms of what constitutes desired academic performance, and the degree to which the PMS is relied upon to make judgmental evaluations of research quality. We conclude by commenting on how forces both outside and within universities are driving a more narrow understanding of what quality in research means in practice.