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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

Competing Institutional Logics at Universities. Checks and Balances Between Consultants and Intra-Organizational Communities

Public Administration
Higher Education
Georg Krücken
University of Kassel
Georg Krücken
University of Kassel
Tim Seidenschnur
University of Kassel

This proposal discusses the importance of intra-organizational groups for how competing institutional logics are applied and balanced in organizations. During the last years, analyzing competing institutional logics has been an important trend in New Institutionalism (Greenwood et al. 2017; Krücken et al. 2017). In our presentation we will refer to this discussion. However, there are only a few studies that analyze the relationship between competing institutional logics and the socialization of actors into different intra-organizational communities in more detail (see also Greenwood et al. 2011, 342). We will discuss this relationship at the example of management consultancy at universities. Management consultancy is spreading into almost every organizational field. In spite of this overall trend, far from all consulting projects can be considered as successful and as having met the expectations of clients. By exploring the reasons why consulting projects fail it becomes clear that introducing mechanisms and concepts from the business sector into universities is very difficult. In difference to business companies, public universities include a range of different loosely coupled systems (Weick 1976) which cannot be governed in terms of a top-down decision making (Serrano-Velarde/Krücken 2012). In this academic context consultants have to struggle for legitimacy. They rely on active clients which ascribe legitimacy to consultants (Alvesson et al. 2009). It also becomes clear that ascribing legitimacy to consultants can follow interpretative patterns of different institutional logics. We will discuss the role of clients for ascribing or denying legitimacy to consultants which are coming as external actors into a field that is not the usual field of activity of management consultants (1). We will analyze how clients ascribe legitimacy according to different competing institutional logics to external consultants (2). And we will discuss the importance of the clients’ socialization into one of different intra-organizational communities within such processes (3). Thereby, we address the question how individuals as actors do institutional work and apply or balance competing institutional in the domain of higher education.
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