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Chris Lorenz

International Research Associate Chris Lorenz, PhD

Institute for Social Movements, Ruhr-University Bochum


Keynote: The Strange Non-Death of New Public Management (NPM)

In my talk I first go into the question why the relationship between (the strange ‘non-deaths’ of) neoliberalism and New Public Management (NPM) is in need of a clarification.  Second, I give a sketch of the core notions of NPM  - performance measurement, transparency , accountability, efficiency and ‘stick and carrot’ reward systems. Third, I zoom in on the origin and role of performance measurement in NPM and discuss several of its critiques. These concern the fundamental ‘retroactivity’ of measurement and the phenomenon of ‘gaming’. Fourth I go into proposals to counter ‘retroactivity’ and ‘gaming’ in performance measurement and argue why these proposals will not solve the problem.

Finally I argue that NPM remains the basic problem because performance measurement cannot fulfil its claim to eliminate the ‘subjectivity’, the complexity and the ambiguity of qualitative data. Therefore there are good grounds to return to professional research evaluation alias judgment by peers. 



Since 2016 Chris Lorenz is international research associate at the Institute for Social Movements in Ruhr-University Bochum. Before he was professor of historical theory at Leiden University (1989-2004) and professor of German Historical Culture at VU University Amsterdam (2013-2015).  Originally trained in sociology and anthropology (MA) he obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1987 while spending most of his working time in history departments. His research themes comprise modern historiography – especially comparative national historiograpy - historical theory and higher educational policies. His publications include Konstruktion der Vergangenheit. Eine Einführung in die Ge­schichtstheorie, Boehlau Publishers, Cologne/Weimar/Vienna 1997, and Bordercrossings. Explorations between History and Philosophy, Peking University Press 2015. In 2021 Analyzing Historical Narratives. On Academic, Popular and Didactical Framings of the Past will appear with Berghahn Publishers (co-editors Stefan Berger and Nicola Brauch).

On the topic of higher education his key publications are: Van het universitaire front geen nieuws, Ambo: Baarn 1993 [All quiet on the academic front]; (ed.),  If you’re so smart why aren’t you rich?’ Universiteit, Markt & Management , Boom Publishers: Amsterdam 2008; (ed.) Wahrheit oder Gewinn? Über die Ökonomisierung von Universität und Wissenschaft, Königshausen & Neumann: Würzburg 2011 (co-editors Chr. Krijnen and J. Umlauf ); 'If you're so smart, why are you under surveillance? Universities, Neoliberalism and New Public Management', in: Critical InquirySpring 2012, 599-630; ‘On fixing the facts. The Rise of Neo-liberalism, the Metrification of ‘Quality’ and the Fall of the Professions’, in: Moving the Social. Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements  51 (2014) nr.4, 5-27.

Last Updated 19.02.2024