With the rise of the Third Mission of universities, the role of science management, which itself has been growing steadily over the years, is gaining relevance for organizational success. Science managers possess exclusive knowledge of organizational processes and keep their own external networks; neither scientists nor university management can give up on successfully carrying out Third Mission activities, such as lifelong learning or student exchange programs. This study takes up the question of whether this exclusive knowledge of science managers fosters their institutional establishment as influential—and therefore, professional—actors. This leads to the research question: Which power resources are available and used by science managers in the relationships with scientists and university management? The theoretical approach builds upon power resources and micro-politics as the core explaining variables for influencing others. In this pursuit, case studies of four German universities with altogether 27 qualitative interviews were conducted with science managers, university management and scientists. The results show that science managers only partially experiment with tactics that entail more risk, such as barter trade or dominance and the most common strategy in relation to others is moderation by idealization or objectivity. In contrast to expectations, they hereby lean more often on internal than on external networks as power resources. In general, two patterns emerge from the analysis: One group of science managers that act managerial and wishes for more room for individual maneuver, and a second group that sees itself as a service provider with little self-interest and wishes for more rules to strengthen their position towards scientists.
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