9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Higher Education IV Building I, 2E8

Organizational identities and the quality processes in three Russian universities

The notion of quality in higher education has become on the most popular and problematic in academic discourse. There is no doubt nowadays that quality is something essential in spite of lots of meanings and no clear definition. Nevertheless, it has become an organizational variable, which can be affected and manipulated in various ways. Our study is focused on the interpretation of quality process development in Russia and its effects on university life and change. Institutional vision of university organization requires organizational identity to be one of the core concepts in interpretation of organizational change. The central question for the study is how the work on quality in large Russian universities is effected by their organizational identities?
According to classical definition of organizational identity it is "a self reflective question" (Who are we anyway as organization?) Identity captures the essential features of an organization. Those features could be summarized in three major dimensions: organizational identity is a) what is taken by organization members to be central to the organization; b) what makes the organization distinctive from other organizations; and c) what is perceived by members to be a enduring or continuing feature linking the present organization with the past (and presumably the future).
According to different perspectives this definition was criticized to some extent and reconceptualized as being enduring and influenced by institutional environment. So we are going to interpret the difference in perceptions on quality process in relation with difference in identity perception as inside and outside frame of university administration.
Our analysis is based on 15 in-depth interviews with university administrations (university chancellors, vice-chancellors, deans) from 3 universities located in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and V. Novgorod. They were held from the end of the 2008 and till the beginning of the 2009. Besides we analyzed university publications and materials: strategy, self evaluation, quality recommendations.
One of the result is that there are three categories forming identity perceptions which influence the difference in work on quality: relevance, common language and correspondence.