Globalization is a contested term. It exists in the form of an integrated world economy and global communication networks. Along with this material world, politicians have created a neoliberal ideology that exhorts nation states to open up their economies to free trade, reduce their public sector, and allow market forces to reshape their public agencies. In effect, this means a reduced role for government, lower taxes, and diminishing funds for public institutions like universities. The underlying thesis of this book is that globalization is not an inexorable force. All nations need to debate its consequences. The authors analyze how globalizing practices are penetrating universities. Are they creating a certain uniformity? Are academics adapting to or resisting particular globalizing practices?
The premise at the beginning of the study was that European universities were responding differently to globalizing practices than Anglo-American universities. This premise was confirmed as some universities saw certain globalizing practices as inevitable and other universities resisted them. The authors asked academics and key managers how their funding had changed, and which accountability mechanisms their universities adopted. They also investigated the use of the Internet in their teaching. They found differences between European and American universities in their approach to permanent employment. The French and Norwegian universities were maintaining many of their traditional values and only the Dutch university showed some movement towards the globalizing practices, which American universities were more readily adopting.
When it comes to accounting for these reforms, two grand narratives of public management share the floor. NPM implies a strengthening of the capacity of the core State to direct public services organizations through management by objectives and results or contractualization, assessment, evaluation and. “Governance” focuses on “network-based” governance systems, where coordinating power and control are collectively shared between the major ‘social actors or partners’ at all levels of the decision-making system. Our results suggest that all higher education systems under study were more or less transformed according to both these narratives. It is therefore needed to understand how they combine or create contradictions. This leads us to test a third neo-weberian model. This model reaffirms the role of the State, of representative democracy, (central, regional and local), of public law (suitably modernized), preserves the idea of a public service with a distinctive status, culture and terms and conditions. It shifts from an internal orientation to bureaucratic rules towards an external orientation in meeting citizens’ needs and wishes by means of standardization of work processes and their products, based on a distinctive public service and a particular legal order survived as the foundations beneath the various packages of modernizing reforms.
This book traces the national dynamics of public policies, organizational design and steering tools in seven European higher education and research systems, using these narratives to interpret and test the actual changes and the degree of national specificities and European convergence.
This book is not a sum of national chapters like other presumably comparative. It does not intend to tell once again the story of the transformation of the relationships between the state and universities. It tries to use Higher education system to discuss issues on state intervention and steering and more generally the NPM, governance and neo-weberian models in a specific field.
Furthermore, this book intends breaking the walls between specialists in higher education and specialist in public management and research policy. This well rooted division of labour is less that ever justified as the university mission in research (fundamental, applied, strategic) is underscored by commentors and reformers themselves. For that reason, we have chosen to observe the consequences of the dynamics of public policies, organizational design and steering tools on two specific issues related to the development of research training and organizing within universities: the transformation of research funding on the one hand and the expansion of graduate studies and doctoral schools on the other.