The Enigma of Quality in Greek Higher Education: A mixed methods study of introducing quality management into Greek higher education

Antigoni Papadimitriou

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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This study investigated the adoption of quality management in Greek universities as an outcome of organizational processes. It examined a period in the first decade of the 21st century when program evaluation and quality management were heavily debated in Greece. The study recognizes that higher education institutions are complex organizations with multiple levels; moreover, they exist in a multi-level, multi-actor environment. Greece presents an environment that is well known for its difficulty in conducting empirical social science research. Until this dissertation, very few studies have been published concerning Greek higher education in general and quality management in particular. This study furthers our understanding of the forces that stimulate or impede changes in Greek higher education by choosing a multi-level mixed methods research design. This research used several data-gathering techniques, including document analysis, surveys and interviews with a variety of stakeholders, to study quality management at national (macro), institutional (meso), and departmental levels (micro). Greek higher education institutions are state-funded institutions and operate in a legalistic environment, under a plethora of laws and regulations. At the macro level the general consensus was that the Bologna Process was the main reason that drove the Greek Government in 2005 to adopt a quality assurance policy for higher education. At the meso level 8 out of 21 universities voluntarily invited an external review (EUA-IEP), which found that quality management was not a routine practice. Different surveys among institutional leaders and department heads, respectively, confirmed this finding. At the micro level data indicated that ISO standards were applied in 32 cases (laboratories and academic support services) in 7 out of 21 universities. However, in departments quality assurance systems were either nonexistent or in early stages of development. Using concepts from neo-institutional theory (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) along with organizational characteristics, this research shows that coercive, normative, and mimetic isomorphic pressures were present, though rarely all at the same time. The lack of coherence among the three isomorphic pressures seems to explain the widespread failure to adopt quality management. Leadership proved to be the crucial intra-organizational factor for change promoting quality management.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Enders, J., Supervisor
  • Westerheijden, D.F., Supervisor
Award date4 Mar 2011
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs9789036531559
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2011


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