Moving towards digital governance of university scholars: instigating a post-truth university culture

Lennart Nørreklit, Lisa Jack, Hanne Nørreklit

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Purpose - Governance models are increasingly driven by information technology and are being applied to measure the performance of all kinds of organisational activity including that of universities. This paper investigates whether the language embedded in the production and use of data for governance models based on information technology (IT) facilitates a governance culture that excludes the scholarly insights of university professionals.

Methodology - Theoretically, the paper draws on the language philosophy of the live language games of capable habitus-based practices and that of the digital language of IT systems. The theoretical framework is illustrated by examples of university practices.

- We argue that the reductive, digital language embedded in IT-based performance measures might destroy the live language game through which scholars of universities produce and develop complex cognitive conceptual habitus. Managers in thrall to the digital language of control accessible via IT can use it to create operational paths that crowd out the free cognitive conceptual habitus of the university scholars. Accordingly, the culture of the corporate university is moving towards a post-truth state.

Implications - Digitally based management systems have created a palpable change in university work place narratives, but the extended use of these systems has not solved governance problems. The situation suggests that the role of universities as the foundation for the whole project of enlightenment and knowledge-based society is threatened.

Originality/Value – Our paper provides a novel insight into the changing discourses in university governance in an era increasingly characterised as post-truth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-899
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Management and Governance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2019


  • performance measurement
  • habitus-based language
  • university scholars
  • digital language
  • post truth


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