Performance Models in Higher Education


  • Janet Atkinson-Grosjean University of British Columbia
  • Garnet Grosjean University of British Columbia



Accountability, Comparative Analysis, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, International Studies, Models, Performance Based Assessment


Higher education (HE) administrators worldwide are responding to performance-based state agendas for public institutions. Largely ideologically-driven, this international fixation on performance is also advanced by the operation of isomorphic forces within HE's institutional field. Despite broad agreements on the validity of performance goals, there is no "one best" model or predictable set of consequences. Context matters. Responses are conditioned by each nation's historical and cultural institutional legacy. To derive a generalized set of consequences, issues, and impacts, we used a comparative international format to examine the way performance models are applied in the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Our theoretical framework draws on understandings of performance measures as normalizing instruments of governmentality in the "evaluative state," supplemented by field theory of organizations. Our conclusion supports Gerard Delanty's contention, that universities need to redefine accountability in a way that repositions them at the heart of their social and civic communities.


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Author Biographies

Janet Atkinson-Grosjean, University of British Columbia

Janet Atkinson-Grosjean is conducting interdisciplinary research at the intersection of science and innovation policy, higher education policy, science studies, and institutional and organizational sociology. Her dissertation examines the status of "post-academic" science at the public/private divide, where intellectual property rights move publicly-funded discoveries into the private domain. Her fieldwork concerns Canada's Network of Centres of Excellence program. Other research interests include accountability, performance and governance in higher education, and the sociology of the professions. She holds a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and has presented her work at national and international venues.

Garnet Grosjean, University of British Columbia

Garnet Grosjean's research draws on the policy and practice of adult and higher education, to study co-operative education as a bridge between the academy and workplace. The central focus is the effect of learning context on university students' conceptions of learning and work. Other research interests include governance and performance of higher education, and the changing vocational role of the university. He is a member of Canada's Western Research Network on Education and Training.




How to Cite

Atkinson-Grosjean, J., & Grosjean, G. (2000). Performance Models in Higher Education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8, 30.