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Under surveillance?: performance measurement, governance and self-governance in academic work
University of Turku, Finland.
University of Turku, Finland.
University of Dundee, UK.
University of Turku, Finland.
2017 (English)In: Paper presented at the 21st International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) Conference, Budapest, Hungary, April 19-21, 2017, IRSPM , 2017Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During the last decade or so, performance measurement (PM) has become an everyday activity in the higher education sector. Owing to the adoption of PM, previously collegial university management has taken steps towards a managerial model that emphasizes accountability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, the new judgmental PM systems seem to undermine important aspects of academic work, such as creativity and quality of work and cause increased stress and pressure to publish.

Foucault invites us to look at the ways various techniques of power and control impact and structure human behavior. His concept of ‘governmentality’ refers to the organizational governance, but also to self-governance, which the individuals under the organizational governance engage in. According to Foucault individuals internalize the norms, ideals and targets of the control system, and start to self-discipline and regulate their own behavior accordingly. Internalizing the control mechanisms makes individuals aim at achieving a ‘normative self’, which at least in the context of academic work remains out of reach for many academics. Somewhat surprisingly, however, it has been found that found that despite dissatisfaction and disquiet, most academics are complicit with the demands of performance measurement. However, the genuine interest in the work itself – the labor of love – is being stretched and at the risk of being lost. 

In this paper, we use the framework of Michel Foucault in looking at the ways in which various techniques of control impact and structure human behavior, and aim at problematizing the use of PM practices in the context of academic work. We examine the PM systems introduced into universities in the Foucauldian sense as forms of surveillance and self-surveillance, and explore how academics deal with the norms and ideals of the PM system. The empirical data of the study consists of open-ended questions collected from a large survey for university employees collected in 2015 with 672 respondents. The analysis is still ongoing, but the preliminary results show that the PM impacts the university employees’ relationship with their work. Partly, it seems to have guided the academics’ working towards the ideals of PM, yet there are also those who resist the PM ideals. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IRSPM , 2017.
Keyword [en]
Performance measurement, governmentality, self-governance, universities, Foucault
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-68763OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-68763DiVA: diva2:1157376
Conference
The 21st International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) Conference, Budapest, Hungary, April 19-21, 2017
Available from: 2017-11-15 Created: 2017-11-15 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved

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Kallio, Tomi J.

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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