Discipline as Institutional Maintenance: The Case of Business School Rankings

Andreas Rasche, Ulrich Hommel, Eric Cornuel

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    Drawing on the case of business school rankings, we study how institutions are
    maintained and remain persistent despite their contested nature. We argue that rankings as institutions can be maintained through subtle disciplinary practices that freeze power relations in recipient organizations. Our analysis rests on a Foucauldian understanding of control emphasizing that rankings discipline (1) by enhancing the visibility of individuals’ performance, (2) by defining ‘normal’ behavior, and (3) by shaping how people understand themselves and the world around them. We show that these three disciplining effects support rankings’ durability, reproducibility, and communicability enhancing their overall stability and diffusion. Our arguments demonstrate that rankings’ relevance and impact is not entirely based on the legitimacy they are able to offer to ranked schools. Rather rankings impel a variety of disciplinary effects within business schools which help to stabilize and diffuse the institution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2012
    Number of pages35
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventEFMD Higher Education Research Conference: Conjectures and Future Directions - The Lorange Institute of Business , Zurich, Switzerland
    Duration: 14 Feb 201215 Feb 2012


    ConferenceEFMD Higher Education Research Conference
    LocationThe Lorange Institute of Business
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