Ethos at stake: Performance management and academic work in universities

Kirsi-Mari Kallio, Tomi J. Kallio, Janne Tienari, Timo Hyvönen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Higher education has been subject to substantial reforms as new forms of performance management are implemented in universities across the world. Extant research suggests that in many cases performance management systems have disrupted academic life. We complement this literature with an extensive mixed methods study of how the performance management system is understood by academics across universities and departments in Finland at a time when new management principles and practices are being forcefully introduced. While our survey results enabled us to map the generally critical and negative view that Finnish scholars have of performance management, the qualitative inquiry allowed us to disentangle how and why our respondents resent the ways and means of measuring their work, the assumptions that underlie the measurement, and the university ideal on which the performance management system is rooted. Most significantly, we highlight how the proliferation of performance management can be seen as a catalyst for changing the very ethos of what it is to be an academic and to do academic work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-709
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • academic careers
  • academic work
  • ethos
  • knowledge-intensive organizations
  • management
  • organizational theory
  • performance appraisal and performance feedback
  • performance management
  • public management
  • university

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