Teachers' conceptions of quality and organisational values in higher education: compliance or enhancement?

Jan Kleijnen*, Diana Dolmans, Jos Willems, Hans Van Hout

*Corresponding author for this work

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Teachers are often assumed to have a negative attitude towards quality endeavours of their institutions and to hold defensive organisational values. However, there is little empirical research on this issue. This study focuses on teachers' conceptions of quality, on their preferred organisational values and on the relationships between the two. A written questionnaire was presented to the teaching staff from 18 departments of universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands (N=266). It comprised 18 questions about teachers' conceptions of quality, representing two quality scales: compliance and accountability and enhancement and improvement. A further 24 questions, related to organisational values, represent two scales that typify flexible organisations, and two that typify control-oriented organisations. The results reveal a neutral score on the compliance and accountability conceptions of quality and on the control-oriented organisational values, and a high score on enhancement and improvement and on the flexibility-oriented values. Both pairs appear to be moderately positively correlated. Despite the need for further qualitative research, it can be concluded that teachers perceive quality first and foremost as enhancement and improvement, rather than as compliance to external standards and accountability. These findings offer interesting perspectives for the further development of an internal quality culture in higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-166
JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • conceptions of quality
  • compliance and accountability
  • enhancement and improvement
  • organisational values

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