Reaching for different ends through tenure track—institutional logics in university career systems

Maria Pietilä, Romulo Pinheiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this study, we used the institutional logics perspective to identify the logics underpinning the tenure track career system, how the logics manifest themselves in recruitment and performance management and how academic leaders and academics negotiate between the logics. The study contributes to research on governance dynamics in academia and to universities’ organisational transformation in the context of strategic actorhood. The data comprised interviews with academic leaders (vice-rectors, deans, department heads) and academics in tenure track positions at two Finnish universities. Empirically, the study explores two key areas of human resource management: recruitment and performance management. The findings show that in the area of recruitment, the leaders at the highest hierarchical levels emphasised organisational visions and priorities. On the other hand, academic leaders constantly negotiated on the weight given to the managerial and the professional logics. The managerial logic also stands out in the area of performance management, but in daily life, it is mediated by the professional and the market logics. Theoretically, the findings underscore the complex interplay between different, yet coexisting institutional logics, as well as the agentic role of academic leaders and academics in addressing the tensions that unfold.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1197–1213
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Academic careers
  • Finland
  • Institutional logics
  • Organizational transformations
  • Tenure track
  • Universities
  • 5171 Political Science

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