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Success and Failure of PhD Programmes: An Empirical Study of the Interplay Between Interests, Resources and Organisation

  • Peter SchneiderEmail author
  • Nicole Thaller
  • Dieter Sadowski
Chapter
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 32)

Abstract

On the basis of a study of 14 European departments, we analyse NPM mechanisms meant to favour a successful PhD education. Relying on the results of Multi-Value Qualitative Comparative Analysis (MVQCA), we demonstrate that only a few organisational characteristics (medium level of financial funds or a critical mass of faculty committed to PhD education in accordance with sufficient time capacities) are essential for a successful PhD education. We also demonstrate that these characteristics can be modified and provided, and that there are the right incentive structures. Competition for scientific reputation is a basic driving force for a variety of gradual organisational changes in the PhD production process often going hand in hand with financial benefits. Should the financial existence of a department depend on its research success, then disruptive organisational turn arounds can be observed. In most of our cases NPM mechanisms were not the decisive trigger for change but enhanced already existing dynamics. They made a difference only where a critical mass of a research-prone faculty was present and where organisational settings (insufficient time capacities, low research competence, low total number of PhD students or no critical mass of faculty committed to PhD education) obstruct strong efforts toward a successfully changing PhD education.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Study financially supported by the German Research Foundation “Internationale Wettbewerbs- und Innovationsfähigkeit von Universitäten und Forschungsorganisationen – Neue Governanceformen (FOR 517)” Project title: “Die Förderung wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses: ein (lokales) Kollektivgut?”. For important comments and suggestions we greatly appreciate the discussion with the participants of the research group “Governance of Research”, the group “science policy ” at the Social Science Centre Berlin, the members of the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations (CSO – CNRS/Sciences Po) Paris as well as discussions with Aubépine Dahan, Wendelin Schnedler and Susanne Warning.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Schneider
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicole Thaller
    • 2
  • Dieter Sadowski
    • 3
  1. 1.Federal University of Applied Administrative SciencesBrühlGermany
  2. 2.Technical University of Darmstadt (Technische Universität Darmstadt)DarmstadtGermany
  3. 3.University of TrierTrierGermany

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