Paranoiac versus agile management of universities

Lennart Nørreklit, Lisa Jack, Hanne Nørreklit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Many of the performance management systems now in place in Higher Education and other public institutions are designed to increase accountability. They thereby combat governance problems of favoritism and prejudice that have always been a challenge. Paradoxically, however, prevailing narratives of both managers and the managed are paranoiac in ways that was less evident in the past, and this can be linked to some widespread changes in performance measurement discourse, thus contributing to a post-truth culture. We argue that digital language embedded in information systems such as spreadsheets and dashboards facilitates a culture of paranoia. Managers in thrall to the digital language of control accessible by IT use it to create operational paths that crowd out professional academics. Increasingly, academics find themselves within a particularly acute form of the new story of the hybrid, excellent higher education institute, where both managers and academics are made paranoid by the need to meet and embody the narratives captured within. There is a palpable change in university workplace narratives, but the governance problems have not been solved by the extended use of digital-based management systems. To overcome paranoiac rule, we suggest that the governance structure is redesigned to implement an agile management bringing high-level professional skills back in the governance of universities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAgile Learning and Management in a Digital Age
Subtitle of host publicationDialogic Leadership
EditorsDavid Kergel, Birte Heidkamp-Kergel, Hanne Nørreklit, Michael Paulsen
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781003188728
ISBN (Print)9781032037318, 9781032037325
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2022

Publication series

NamePerspectives on Education in the Digital Age


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