Risk as a mode of organising: Power in universities and the internalisation of regulation


Speaker:Christian Huber, Helmut Schmidt University
Date: Wednesday 22 June 2016
Time: 09:30 - 11:00
Location: Kolade Teaching Room, Building One

Further details

This paper explores how universities respond to external demands for accountability, which have become a ubiquitous feature of the late modern era (Power et al. 2009). We investigate how a policy designed to improve doctoral supervision in a UK research intensive university was reconstructed as a number of different risks which shaped internal accountability through perceptions and actions around responsibility. Based on an in-depth qualitative case study we develop the notion of plasticity. Notions such as risk or accountability entered the organization from the outside and were transformed by actors to mean different things to different people at different times. Through the course of this process, the nature of a PhD changed. Conceptually, we argue that the plasticity of notions such as risk or accountability helped the organization to internalize this external perspective. Our story dispels the myth that risks are ‘out there waiting to be discovered’ and instead, reveals how these processes are mediated through the reflexive attempts of actors to control the risks, their reputation and their accountability.