Greening higher education? From responsibilization to accountabilization in the incorporation of sustainability in higher education

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Purpose: This study aims to investigate how sustainability has been incorporated – or mainstreamed - in a school at one university through techniques of responsibilization and accountabilization. Design/methodology/approach: Inspired by the extended case study methodology, the authors participated, observed and analyzed two audit-inspired processes, whose aims included ensuring that sustainability was integrated into the educational process. Findings: By following two audit-inspired processes, the authors show how teachers were asked to respond to open-ended survey questions and by doing so emerged as responsibilized subjects. Although the teachers were given lots of space to interpret the concept of sustainability and show how it was translated into the programs and courses offered, the teachers were made accountable as established organizational hierarchies were reproduced when responsibilization was formalized through techniques of accountabilization. Research limitations/implications: The analysis moves beyond the instrumental epistemologies characterizing much of the positivist-oriented research in higher education. As with all studies, the authors study also has methodological limitations, such as involving a single higher education institution. There is a general need for more empirical research in this area in order to build theory and to understand whether the concepts of responsibilization and accountabilization can also be applied in other higher education contexts. Practical implications: The study shows that higher education administrators engage in processes of responsibilization and accountabilization through formalized processes of interpellation, as documents and self-assessment exercises tie teachers to organizational contexts. Originality/value: To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first study that introduces the concepts of responsibilization and accountabilization as social relationships in higher education governance.

Sidor (från-till)208-222
Antal sidor15
TidskriftInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
StatusPublished - 2021 dec 17

Bibliografisk information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Nikos Macheridis and Alexander Paulsson.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Pedagogik


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