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Krücken, Georg (2021): Multiple competitions in higher education. A conceptual approach. In: Innovation 23 (2), S. 163–181

Currently, one can observe a strong increase in competition in very different areas in higher education. Individual and collective actors compete, for example, for scarce material and symbolic resources like research grants, high-quality publications, ranking positions, attention from external stakeholders or societal impact. As a consequence, universities as organisations and academics as individual actors are simultaneously embedded in different, nested, and interdependent competitions, i.e. multiple competitions. But what are multiple competitions, where do they come from and what consequences result? Multiple competitions are not simply ‘out there’, but are rather the socially constructed product that results from the dynamics and interactions of different social systems. In the paper, a conceptual framework is developed, focusing on the interrelated dynamics of the science system, the state and the university. Of particular importance is the overall trend of metricisation, which affects these systems and their interrelated dynamics. At the end of the paper, the implications of multiple competitions for creativity and innovation in science and higher education are critically discussed. Here, important questions for the further study of multiple competitions are addressed.

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