June 3, 2016

Does Measurement of Performance Erode Collegiality?

BERKELEY, CA, June 3, 2016 – On 6/7, at Berkeley, Samuel Sponem, Visiting Scholar from HEC Montreal, will present a talk on his paper titled, Is Collegiality Eroded by Performance Metrics?  In the past decades, universities worldwide have experienced an increasingly pervasive “audit culture”. The proliferation of university rankings, the extensive use of bibliometrics in the evaluation of research, and the definition of performance indicators by states and universities offer ample evidence of this movement of quantification in higher education.  

Sponem’s research pursues three main objectives: firstly, to provide a comprehensive definition of collegiality; secondly, to determine whether the diffusion of performance metrics affects collegiality; and thirdly, to investigate the extent to which differentiated status of universities moderates the relationship between the use of performance metrics and collegiality. 

Collegial organizations involve members considered as equal peers, who have different fields of expertise but share common values, which permits self-determination through consensus.  Until the 1970s, universities were viewed as archetypes of this collegial model.  Since that period, the university environment has dramatically changed, contributing to challenging their “original” nature as collegial organizations. 

 Along with the expansion of mass higher education, universities are now pushed to become more accountable for their performance and their use of public resources. Demands for increased accountability of higher education institutions have come not only from the students, but also from other stakeholders such as governments wary of rising costs, employers in need of competent graduates, and the public at large eager for information about the quality of education and labor market practices.  These evolutions have paved the way for the use of performance metrics in universities.

In his presentation, Sponem will present an analysis of the extent to which the use of performance measurement instruments within our contemporary universities are transforming the collegial nature of the latter.  Based on a quantitative study of university governance in France, he will explore the common view found in the literature that managerialism is contrasted in a binary way with collegiality.

Sponem will demonstrate that the use of performance metrics influences some dimensions of collegiality more than others, and that the uses of performance metrics do not necessarily lead to a loss of collegiality. He will also highlight important differences across universities, according to their status.

Carol Christ, Director at Center for Studies in Higher Education, will moderate the discussion.

Sponsored by: The Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley, Room 768 Evans, CSHE Library, Tuesday, June 7, 12:00pm-1:00pm.  Lunch to follow.


Samuel Sponem is a visiting scholar at the Center for Studies in Higher Education. He is also Chairholder of the International CPA Chair for Research in Management Control and Associate Professor at HEC Montreal. His research and teaching interests focus on the use and impacts of management control and accounting tools in private and public organizations. He worked on how budgets are used and on the variety of roles played by accountants in large organizations. He also studied the different roles of management control and performance measurement tools in non-profit and creative organizations. In the field of higher education, he worked on how faculty and administrators perceive the introduction of performance measures in French universities as well as their impacts on academic identity and university governance.  

Carol Christ is theInterim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley; Director, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley; former President, Smith College.

Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) was established in 1956 and was the first research institute in the United States devoted to the study of systems, institutions, and processes of higher education.  The Center’s mission is to produce and support multi-disciplinary scholarly perspectives on strategic issues in higher education, to conduct relevant policy research, to promote the development of a community of scholars and policymakers engaged in policy-oriented discussion, and to serve the public as a resource on higher education.