Welcome to Score!

Thursday February 7 at 10.00-11.30
Score, Frescativägen 14 A, Stockholm University


Contesting conformity: How and why academics may challenge the conforming influences of intra-organizational performance evaluations.

Extant research generally finds that the proliferation of quantitatively oriented performance measurement systems (PMS) within academia makes researchers adopt a new type of ‘academic performer ideal’ which promotes research conformity and superficiality. In a small but growing stream of research though, this ‘reactive conformance-thesis’ has been problematized, as some researchers seem able to resist the performer ideal and carve out a space for thinking otherwise. This study draws upon, and adds to, this latter literature through taking an interest in the type of conditions that can inhibit (or at least temporarily hold back) ‘reactive research conformance’. In so doing, we draw upon an interview study showing that a research group who was regularly exposed to bibliometrics-based performance evaluations, and who came out very poorly in a major intra-organizational research assessment, exhibited a surprisingly high level of non-compliance and non-conformity in relation to what was deemed important and legitimate by the prevailing PMS. Overall, we identify four important qualities of pre-existing researcher ideals that seem to make them particularly resilient to an infiltration of an academic performer ideal, namely that they are (i) central and since-long established, (ii) orthogonalto (i.e. very different from) the academic performer ideal as materialized by the PMS, (iii) largely sharedwithin the research group, and (iv) externally legitimate