Social Science Disciplines in Complex Development Contexts—The Professional Dimension of Reputation Management

  • Tom Christensen
  • Lars KlemsdalEmail author
Part of the Public Sector Organizations book series (PSO)


The chapter addresses the dynamics of reputation management at the operational level of universities, specifically the level of local organization of disciplines within departments. Through a comparative historical study of the political science and sociology departments, respectively, at the University of Oslo, covering a period of approximately 50 years (1965–2016), we disclose changing concerns and audiences between the local disciplines as well as within them when it comes to managing their professional reputation. We find that the dynamics of reputation management at the local operational level of university disciplines are contingent upon their local institutional environment, but also their disciplinary cultural and cognitive traits. However, we also find that the effect of the disciplinary cultural and cognitive traits fades in favor of the local institutional environment and specifically the institutionalized expectations of presenting themselves as organizations, as we move historically from the 1965–2016.


Cultural and symbolic explanations Institutional theory Professional reputation management Reputation management at the operational level University disciplines 



We would like to thank S. Gabriela Gavrila and Lars Erik Kjekshus for valuable comments to a late draft of the chapter.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Human GeographyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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