When Professional and Organizational Logics Collide: Balancing Invisible and Visible Colleges in Institutional Complexity

  • Fabian Hattke
  • Rick Vogel
  • Hendrik Woiwode
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 47)


Across times and disciplines, the co-evolution of formal organizations, or visible colleges, and informal groups, or invisible colleges, is a key feature and facilitator of development in scholarly fields. As systems of rationale, professional logics of invisible colleges and organizational logics of visible colleges are mutually complementary yet sometimes conflicting. New public management reforms collide with the established logics of both visible and invisible colleges. In particular, the increasing emphasis on output control in education policy and university governance is only to a limited extent complementary to traditional forms of process control in visible colleges and peer controls in invisible colleges. This article discusses the consequences of this institutional complexity for the balance of visible and invisible colleges and identifies potential imbalances. First, innovation dilemmas arise from the exploitation of pre-existing knowledge at the expense of exploration into new fields. Second, a struggle for organizational actorhood affects scholars’ ability for voluntary collective action. Third, identity conflicts refine scholars’ identification with visible and invisible colleges. We discuss ambidexterity, hybridization, and identity work as strategies for balancing conflicting institutional demands. We conclude by stressing the need for further integration of higher education research and science studies in order to enhance our understanding of the interdependencies between invisible and visible colleges.


Institutional logics Higher education University governance Science studies Ambidexterity Hybridization Identity work 



This research is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant No. 01PY13014).


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Organization and ManagementUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Public ManagementHamburg UniversityHamburgGermany

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