Multiple institutional logics and their impact on accounting in higher education: the case of a German foundation university

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how an Higher Education Institution’s (HEI) choice of undergoing a voluntary reorganisation, motivated by its own interest of increasing its autonomy, whilst also having to satisfy the government in order to maintain the level of public funding, impacts on the HEI’s accounting. 

Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on the institutional logics perspective to present a single case study of a German HEI that chose to be reorganised from a public into a foundation university. Data were obtained using multiple data collection methods. Findings: The findings suggest that organisational characteristics, which act as filters for institutional logics, play an important role for HEIs’ ability to increase not only their de jure, but also their de facto autonomy through self-motivated, rather than government imposed, reform processes. 

Research limitations/implications: The paper is based on a single case study in a country-specific context, limiting the empirical generalisability of the findings. 

Originality/value: Germany is not only one of the main nations exporting higher education, but its economy has also been recognised for its stability and development over the last decades. Nevertheless, Germany struggles in its transition to become a knowledge-based economy. Yet, research has so far tended to neglect educational reforms in Continental European countries, such as Germany. By addressing this gap in the literature, this paper is among the first to explore how reform processes shape accounting in German HEIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-810
Number of pages29
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Accountability
  • Accounting
  • Germany
  • Higher education
  • Institutional logics
  • Knowledge-intensive public services

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