How Rankings Produce Competition: The Case of Global University Rankings

  • 1 Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld, Deutschland
  • 2 Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld, Deutschland
  • 3 Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld, Deutschland
Jelena Brankovic
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  • Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld, Deutschland
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  • Jelena Brankovic is Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, Germany. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Ghent University, Belgium. Her research interests are in the study of organizations in general and universities in particular, forms of interaction, competition and global dynamics.Selected recent publications:Brankovic, J., 2018: The status games they play: unpacking the dynamics of organisational status competition in higher education. Higher Education 75: 695–709Brankovic, J., 2018: How do meta-organizations affect extra-organizational boundaries? The case of university associations. S. 259–281 in: L. Ringel, P. Hiller & C. Zietsma (eds.), Towards Permeable Boundaries of Organizations? Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.
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, Leopold Ringel
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  • Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld, Deutschland
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  • Leopold Ringel is Lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University, Germany. His scholarly work focuses on the emergence of transparency as a global norm and its impact on organizations, with a special focus on unintended and adverse effects. Currently, he investigates the production, institutionalization, and organizational effects of rankings.He has published on the organizational consequences of transparency and the permeability of organizational boundaries:Ringel, L., 2018: Unpacking the Transparency-Secrecy Nexus: Frontstage and backstage behaviour in a political party. Organization Studies: 0170840618759817.Ringel, L., P. Hiller & C. Zietsma (Eds.), 2018: Towards Permeable Boundaries of Organizations?. Research in the Sociology of Organizations 47. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.
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and Tobias Werron
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  • Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld, Deutschland
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  • Tobias Werron is a professor of Sociological Theory at Bielefeld University, Germany. Before joining the Faculty of Sociology in Bielefeld in 2016, he was a professor of Science Studies and Politics at the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft (FIW) at Bonn University.His main areas of interests include globalization & world society studies, sociology of competition and methodological questions of theorizing.Koloma Beck, T. & T. Werron, 2017: Violent Conflictition: Armed Conflicts and Global Competition for Attention and Legitimacy. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society1–22.Werron, T., 2015: Why do we believe in competition? A historical-sociological view of competition as an institutionalized modern imaginary. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 16: 186–210.
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Der Zusammenhang zwischen Rankings und Konkurrenz wird häufig unterstellt, aber selten genauer untersucht. Der vorliegende Aufsatz geht ihm am Beispiel globaler Universitätsrankings nach. Ausgehend von einem soziologischen Verständnis von Konkurrenz bestimmen wir „Ranken“ als eine soziale Operation, die vier Teiloperationen miteinander kombiniert: Vergleich von Leistungen, Quantifizierung, Visualisierung, und wiederholte Publikation. Visualisierung und Publikation stehen für die in der Literatur bisher kaum berücksichtigte performative Dimension von Rankings, die für die Analyse des Zusammenhangs zwischen Rankings und Konkurrenz von zentraler Bedeutung ist. Auf dieser Grundlage zeigen wir, wie globale Universitätsrankings zur Konstruktion von Konkurrenz beitragen: durch (a) Globalisierung eines spezifischen Exzellenzdiskurses; (b) Verknappung von Reputation; (c) Transformation einer stabilen in eine dynamische Statusordnung. Wir schließen mit einer Diskussion von Implikationen dieser Analyse für die soziologische Erforschung von Konkurrenz und ihrer gesellschaftlichen Effekte.

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