Department heads in the situation of changing managing mechanisms in higher education institutions in Russia

Karmaeva N.N.

Ph.D, Docent, Institute of Education, National Research University «Higher School of Economics», Moscow, Russia

Rodina N.V.

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

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For citation:

Karmaeva N.N., Rodina N.V. Department heads in the situation of changing managing mechanisms in higher education institutions in Russia. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2016. No 8. P. 137-145


Based on a qualitative study, the article considers management practices at the departments of higher education institutions in the context of the recent education policy reforms in Russia. Interviews with administration of higher education institutions prove that the orientation towards productivity indicators formulated in ranking systems is the case. Interviews (over 50) with heads of departments of these higher education institutions were carried out showing that the “new managerialist” policy does not comply to the existing practices of regulating academic work based on collegiality and informal redistribution of work. The main reason for this is the jobs which are not covered by contracts and therefore not paid. As a result, the amount of such jobs is only increasing – administrative work, bureaucratic load (“paper work”), methodical support of teaching. In particular, heads of departments are regulating reproduction of the status systems of the departments they head. These informal mechanisms help to adapt to the increasing workload in supportive functions: the heads of departments regulate distribution of extra work informally. The understanding of quality in work is adapted to the demands of the departments promoting collegiality, reciprocity, rather than competition. The role of heads of departments in such circumstances becomes peculiar. On the one hand, administrative, bureaucratic and teaching load of heads of departments is growing. On the other hand, they are expected to increase their research productivity. The study shows the misfit between collegial, managerial and market-oriented mechanisms regulating academic work at the departments.

academic profession; new public management; heads of departments
Content No 8, 2016