Autonomy and Performance Contracts at Universities

Niels Ejersbo, Signe Pihl-Thingvad, Maiken K. Westergaard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter provides a better understanding of the relationship between a PM-inspired governance model and both formal and real autonomy at Danish universities. The societal role of universities is also argued to be especially important in knowledge-based economy, and this tendency causes a greater focus on performance at the universities. And “The basic features of past governance modes in higher education have been re-designed by governments, and in doing so they have also changed their role in the steering system”. The managerial model of the Danish universities can best be described as steering-at-a-distance. The governance model consisted of a new managerial model with professional boards combined with performance contracts between the ministry and the board. The contract contains a number of performance targets that the university must fulfil and must account for by the end of the contract period. The performance contract between the ministry and the university is an important element in the performance management system.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoverning the Reformed University
EditorsNiels Ejersbo, Carsten Greve, Signe Pihl-Thingvad
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9781315157979
ISBN (Electronic)9781351655200
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesRoutledge Critical Studies In Public Management


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  • Governing the Reformed University

    Ejersbo, N. (ed.), Greve, C. (ed.) & Pihl-Thingvad, S. (ed.), 2020, 1. ed. New York: Routledge. 170 p. (Routledge Critical Studies In Public Management).

    Research output: Book/reportAnthologyResearchpeer-review

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