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Neue Publikation: Reconciling field-level logics and management control practices in research management at Austrian public universities



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how Austrian public universities (APUs) respond to the challenge of maintaining academic freedom while complying with legal requirements and enhancing competitiveness by using Management Control Systems (MCSs). Specifically, it examines how APUs respond to the co-presence of academic, government and business logic.

Design/Methodology/Approach – The perspective of institutional logics as a theoretical lens and the framework of MCSs by Malmi and Brown (2008) serve to analyse how APUs respond to the existence of different institutional field-level logics. In-depth expert interviews from the perspective of APUs’ research management are conducted to identify the applied management control practices (MCPs) and APUs’ responses to the different institutional field-level logics.

Findings – This study identifies how academic, government and business logic are represented in fieldlevel-specific MCPs and field-level-specific corresponding narratives. Reflecting upon APUs’ responses to the co-existence of academic and government logic, compliance or rather, selective coupling with government logic or decoupling from government logic became obvious.

Originality/value – To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study at higher education institutions representing academic, government and business logic in the applied MCPs in research management. The study reveals that APUs have developed specific responses and narratives regarding the existence of different institutional field-level logics.

Keywords Public universities, Institutional logics, Management control systems, Research management, Management control practices

Paper type Research paper