University governance and rankings: the ambivalent role of rankings for autonomy, accountability and competition

  • Although university rankings are controversial, they are still widely used to an increasing extent. It is even claimed that they are involved in strategy processes of universities. This paper analyses this far-reaching hypothesis by exploring the role of rankings for institutional autonomy, accountability and competition in a selected sample of six German universities. It turns out that the universities are reflectedly committed to rankings but, because of their methodological ambivalences, do not use rankings in strategy and decision-making. The paper closes with conclusions for realistic approaches towards rankings, according to which current league table rankings cannot be systematically integrated into university governance. This is because ranking indicators often do not represent reliable quality measures and the rank list data are usually highly aggregated thereby obscuring causal linkages the knowledge of which would be necessary for strategic interventions.

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Author:Theodor LeiberORCiDGND
Frontdoor URL
Parent Title (German):Beiträge zur Hochschulforschung
Year of first Publication:2017
Publishing Institution:Universität Augsburg
Release Date:2018/05/22
First Page:30
Last Page:51
Institutes:Philosophisch-Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Philosophisch-Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Philosophie
Philosophisch-Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Philosophie / Lehrstuhl für Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Analytische Philosophie / Wissenschaftstheorie