The disillusion of calculative practices in academia

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12 Citeringar (Scopus)



The purpose of this paper is to highlight and compare insights from research conducted in different disciplines on the effects of the use of calculative practices in academia. It also acts as an introduction to the special issue on “governing by numbers: audit culture and contemporary tales of universities’ accountability”.


This paper reviews the findings and reflections provided in academic literature on the various types of consequences stemming from the diffusion of the “audit culture” in academia. In so doing, it draws upon insights from previous literature in education, management and accounting, and other papers included in this special issue of Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management.


The literature review shows that a growing number of studies are focussing on the hybridization of universities, not only in terms of calculative practices (e.g. performance indicators) but also in relation to individual actors (e.g. academics and managers) who may have divergent values, and thus, act according to multiple logics (business and academic logics). It highlights many areas in which further robust academic research is needed to guide policy and practice developments in universities.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides academics, regulators and decision-makers with relevant insights into the critical issues of using calculative practices in academia. Despite the negative effects have been observed in various disciplines, there is an evident perpetuation in the use of those practices.


This paper contributes to the ongoing debates on the disillusion of calculative practices in academia. Yet, positive changes can be achieved within the complex settings of “hybrid” universities when the apparent class division between academics and managers is bridged.

Sidor (från-till)1-17
Antal sidor16
TidskriftQualitative Research in Accounting & Management/Emerald
StatusPublicerad - 2020

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