“Hard” vs. “Soft” Managerialism: How to Reform Universities and Let Them Remain Universities
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Department of Institutional Economics and Microeconomics, University of Lodz, Poland
Piotr Urbanek   

Department of Institutional Economics and Microeconomics, University of Lodz, Poland
Submission date: 2022-04-09
Final revision date: 2022-06-06
Acceptance date: 2022-09-21
Publication date: 2022-12-30
GNPJE 2022;312(4):89–102
The transformation of academic institutions inspired by the ideas of New Public Management introduces a new paradigm of university governance. The essence of the new university model is the transfer of corporate authority structures and managerial practices to the academic institutional environment. Such an approach to university reform refers to the concept of “hard” managerialism. If universities accept the imposed new managerial rules of the game, they strengthen a system based on a logic that departs from traditional academic norms. However, universities can try to maintain their traditional institutions rooted in the academic institutional logic, which requires an alternative approach falling within the concept of “soft” managerialism. The article shows that collegiality and managerialism do not have to be contradictory. These two seemingly conflicting ideas can co-exist in a “soft” version of managerialism, taking on a more humanised or neo-collegial form. This requires a redefinition of university governance structures while maintaining traditional academic norms and values. The article uses critical literature analysis as a research method.
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