Joining the club: the ideology of quality and business school badging

Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott (2005). Joining the club: the ideology of quality and business school badging. Studies in Higher Education, 30(3) pp. 239–255.



The ideology of quality and the frameworks used to measure it can profoundly affect academic identity. This article explores the role of quality frameworks in UK business schools, focusing on the way that individuals confront the logic of accreditation when they are subject to its discipline. By defining business schools as an institutional field, inhabited by social actors who negotiate with each other to establish the significance of the rules, it is possible to analyse the factors that influence adoption of quality frameworks. Analysis of interviews with academics and administrators in four case studies suggests that the ideology of quality relies on the concept of elitism to achieve differentiation, and uses gendered metaphors to emphasize the competitive aspects of this process. The authors conclude that, as long as business schools define themselves as a field driven by processes of emulation, the potential to resist this ideology remains limited.

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