FOR 5234 - Multiple Competitions in Higher Education


  • Supporting Institution: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Kennedyallee 40, 53175 Bonn
  • Project Duration: October 2021 - 2024
  • Project-Website


DFG Re­se­arch Group Mul­ti­ple Com­pe­ti­ti­on in Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on

In this research group researchers from sociology, economics and business administration are working together in eight sub-projects at eight universities.

The overall objective of this research group is to develop a comprehensive understanding of multiple competition in the field of higher education, based on contributions from sociology, economics and business administration. Multiple competition in higher education means that individual and collective actors are simultaneously embedded in and nested within several interconnected competitions. The relationship between these individual competitions leads to a complex netting of requirements, which actors have to face. This interdisciplinary research group, therefore, attempts to answer the following questions: How do actors position themselves when facing multiple competition? What dynamics unfold and what consequences result from multiple competition? To answer these questions, each subproject within the research group aims at analyzing a specific set of characteristics of multiple competition as well as the interrelations between these different competitions. By linking together the results from different subprojects, the research group as a whole will be able to draw a comprehensive picture and develop a theory of multiple competition in higher education. Given the broad usage of competition as a governance mechanism, such a theoretical understanding will be of high importance not only for higher education as a field, but also for the analysis of other areas of society, where no overall evaluation and price system exists. In addition, we expect relevant results for higher education policy and funding.


Project contributed by TUM: The Im­pact of Com­pe­ti­ti­ve Re­se­arch Fun­ding on Know­ledge Pro­duc­tion in Re­se­arch Groups

Universities are important agents in knowledge-based economies. They generate scientific knowledge that spills over to the broader economy, for instance, by allowing firms to use scientific knowledge for their innovation activities. The growing importance of science-based industries puts additional emphasis on the question how scientific knowledge is generated and whether governments can impact knowledge generation through governance tools. In light of this, science systems have been subject to fundamental reforms including the allocation mechanisms for research funding. Funding competitions are accompanied by competition for the most talented researchers resulting in multiple competition between individuals, groups and organizations. The contribution of the proposed project is to investigate the effects of competitive research funding on knowledge generation in groups and by taking into account its interdependence with competition for researchers. Moreover, the project contributes to research on the role of “star scientists” by investigating whether an increased concentration of research funding results in an increased concentration of star-scientists in “winner groups”. The funding of “clusters of excellence” in Germany provides the ideal institutional setting for these analyses. The proposed research will strengthen the foundations on which evidence-based economic policy can be build.