Higher Education

, Volume 68, Issue 5, pp 711–732 | Cite as

Towards a micro foundation of leadership, governance, and management in universities

  • Steffen BlaschkeEmail author
  • Jetta Frost
  • Fabian Hattke


Leadership, governance, and management are frequently conceptualized as conflictory institutional logics. The recent shift to a ‘new managerialism’ in universities, for example, clearly favors business-like leadership and management styles over collegial governance practices. This article provides a micro foundation of leadership, governance, and management in universities based on the underlying communication of strategic issues among governing bodies. Reporting on a longitudinal case study of a comprehensive reorganization of a German university, it illustrates how institutional logics translate into micro patterns of communication. The findings suggest that leadership, governance, and management are not necessarily conflictory but reflect in four complementary micro patterns. Rather than ‘managerialism’ replacing ‘collegialism,’ organizational change unfolds in oscillating sequences of these four micro patterns. The findings furthermore indicate that the strategic issues of research and teaching at the university’s core remain largely autonomous, despite their increasing managerial regulation.


Organization as communication Loose coupling Longitudinal case study 



We kindly acknowledge funding for our research provided by the Bundesministerium fr Bildung und Forschung (BMBF; German Ministry for Education and Research) under Grant No. 01PW11018A.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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