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Drawing Lines in the Sand: Organizational Responses to Evaluations in a Swedish University
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As organizations are increasingly evaluated, evaluative practices are becoming central to organization theory. While highlighting how organizations may respond to evaluations, earlier work on organizations and evaluation has been limited to inter-organizational evaluations, such as third-party rankings or ratings. As a consequence, the prevailing perspective on organizational responses has been developed almost entirely based on an idea that what is being evaluated in the first place – the evaluation entities – is unproblematic. Acknowledging that the definition of the evaluation entity may be ambiguous prior to the evaluation, and that this definition might vary over time, some interesting areas of inquiry emerge in relation to current understandings of organizational responses to evaluations.

First, it raises questions of how entities are defined in evaluations, and how this can be seen as an organizational response? Second, it raises questions about our current understanding of the dynamics of organizational responses and how organizational responses shape organizational adaptation and change. Third, it raises question about how entity definitions shape how organizations become evaluated. Despite recent interest in understanding organizational responses to evaluations, organizational scholars have largely refrained from entertaining these questions.

The objective of this dissertation is to revisit the assumption of the unambiguously defined evaluation entity in the current theorizing on organizational responses to evaluations. An opportunity to investigate this question emerged when the oldest university in Sweden, Uppsala University, decided to carry out two large evaluations of the research activities within the university – in 2007 and in 2011. The evaluation was made public and aimed to identify and evaluate (partly through a rating) the research achievements of the departments of the university. This presented an opportunity to study organizational responses to evaluations in a setting that is different from what has been studied previously. 

Based on a study of 44 of the departments within the university my main finding show how entities are defined and how this can be seen as an organizational response to evaluations. My findings also show how entity definitions interact with the more traditional responses taken after an evaluation, and that entity definitions shape the evaluation of the department. This dissertation thus lends support for the idea that apart from responding by changing activities or their organizational units, organizations can also respond to evaluations by the way they shape what will be evaluated – the entities being subject for the evaluation. The findings in this dissertation holds consequences for organizational theory and the evaluation of organizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University , 2016. , 207 p.
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 181
Keyword [en]
Organizational Responses, Evaluation, Rating, Research Evaluation
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-304766ISBN: 978-91-506-2603-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-304766DiVA: diva2:1034075
Public defence
2016-11-26, Hall 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsg. 10, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-11-04 Created: 2016-10-10 Last updated: 2017-01-24Bibliographically approved

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