Governance and Well-being in Academia: Negative Consequences of Applying an Agency Theory Logic in Higher Education

Monica Franco-Santos, Michael Nalick, Pilar Rivera-Torres, Luis Gomez-Mejia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study examines the relationship between alternative university governance practices and staff well-being. Specifically, it investigates how people in academic and professional services roles are managed and how various governance mechanisms such as the use of performance measures and targets influence their sense of vitality and stress. Drawing from agency theory and stewardship theory research, the authors expected universities to align their governance practices to the nature of their employment roles to enhance well-being. Based on data collected in the UK, the authors find that, for some academic roles, there is a misalignment between the responsibilities and job demands and the way institutions govern people in such roles, which is shown to affect their well-being. These results suggest that well-being responses to governance mechanisms change, depending on the role an employee performs and the position he or she occupies. Interestingly, these data suggest that the governance and well-being experiences of academic leaders are more closely aligned with those of professional service leaders than with those of academics without leadership positions. Taking these data together, this investigation notes several shortcomings in the internal governance practices of higher-education institutions that can have unexpected consequences and require close attention and further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-730
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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