English and German academics’ perspectives on metrics in higher education: evaluating dimensions of fairness and organisational justice

O'Connell, Catherine and O'Siochru, Cathal (2021) English and German academics’ perspectives on metrics in higher education: evaluating dimensions of fairness and organisational justice. Higher Education. pp. 1-21. ISSN 0018-1560

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Abstract

Many contemporary analyses criticise metrics-based evaluation in the higher education context as a neoliberal technology, notwithstanding the different national contexts and organizational topographies in which metrics are used. This Anglo-German study offers a comparative exploration of the role of metrics in two contrasting cases: highly developed, state-driven sectoral use of metrics in England, and more dispersed, decentralised use of metrics in Germany, in the case of research particularly. This survey-based study examines academics’ perceptions of fairness of accountability practices associated with metrics-based evaluations at the organisational level. Drawing on organisational justice theory the analysis focuses on the extent that academic evaluations of fairness are underpinned by contextual evaluations linked to organisational practices or more abstract evaluations of these measures. In the English context, fairness evaluations were more related to organisational uses of metrics. In the German context negative justice evaluations do not seem closely associated with organisational factors but relate to a cultural critique of metrics. The analysis demonstrates that academics may hold views on metrics which are contingent not only on their perceived accuracy as measures but on their perceived efficacy as tools which support broader sectoral and organisational developments, such that metrics start to lead their own life in organisational contexts. The comparative dimension to the study suggests that in some cases, context-sensitive use of metrics can enable emancipation from informal power networks in academia.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10734-021-00703-w “The final publication is available at link.springer.com”."
Keywords: Metrics, Educational indicators, organisational justice, England, Germany
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Education Studies
Depositing User: Catherine O'Connell
Date Deposited: 25 May 2021 14:53
Last Modified: 25 May 2021 14:53
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/3292

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