Accountability and legitimacy of higher education institutions: An institutional perspective: e-lecture [January, 16]

Welcome to the 4th Peking-Tampere Lecture series on Organisation and Management in Higher Education!

Theme: Accountability and legitimacy of higher education institutions: An institutional perspective

Speaker: Prof. Jeroen Huisman, Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), Ghent University

Time: January, 16 at 13.00-14.30 (Helsinki time)/ 19.00-20.30 (Beijing time)

Lecture description:

ppt slides


Higher education researchers make use of different organizational theories and concepts, but – especially in the past two decades or so – they rely primarily, but not exclusively, on institutional theories. In this lecture, one of the key concepts from the institutional toolbox (legitimacy) will be explored and connected to other concepts (accountability and identity) that put the notion of organizational actorhood (Krücken and Meier, 2006) of higher education institutions in a broader perspective. Based on the premise that “language = action”, specific attention will be given to research designs and empirics that focus on how higher education institutions use words and images to account for and legitimate their activities.

Recommended pre-reading:


Frolich, N., Huisman, J., Slipersaeter, S., Stensaker, B., & Botas, P. (2013). A reinterpreation of institutional transformation in European higher education: strategising pluralistic organisations in multiplex environments, Higher Education, 65(1), 79-93.

Deephouse, D.l., Bundy, J., Plunkett Tost, J., & Suchman, M.C. (2016). Organizational legitimacy: six key questions. Alberta School of Business Research Paper no. 2016-901. Edmonton: University of Alberta.


Huisman, J. & Mampaey, J. (2018). Use your imagination: What UK universities want you to think of them, Oxford Review of Education, 44(4), 425-440.

Drori, G.S., Delmestri, G., & Oberg, A. (2016). The iconography of universities as institutional narratives, Higher Education, 71(2), 163-180.


Jeroen Huisman holds a PhD from the University of Twente, the Netherlands (1995). In 2005, he was appointed to professor of Higher Education Management, University of Bath, UK. In 2013, he moved to Ghent University, to start a professorial position in the Department of Sociology. He is also the director of the Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG). He is editor of Higher Education Policy and co-editor of the Emerald book series Theory and Method in Higher Education Research. He is an editorial board member of various higher education journals, including Studies in Higher Education (SHE), the Journal of Studies in International Education and Higher Education Research and Development (HERD). His current research interests are the (impacts of the) change from government to governance in higher education, the dynamics of organisational change, inertia and diversity in higher education, institutional management and governance, quality assurance and internationalisation and Europeanisation.


Dr. Po Yang is an associate professor with tenure, chair of Department of Economics of Education and Administration, at the Graduate School of Education, Peking University, and a research fellow at China Institute of Education Finance Research, Peking University. She serves as the vice president of China Association of Education Finance Research, and has been working as consultant for the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Ford Foundation. Her main teaching and research areas of economics of education, education finance, and vocational and technical education reform evaluation. She has working experiences in leading research universities in the U.S.A., and the Netherlands. She has published in peer reviewed SSCI journals and received research grants from China’s National Science Foundation and Ministry of Education.