Skip to main content


Log in

Changing Governance and Authority Relations in the Public Sciences

  • Published:
Minerva Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Major changes in the governance of higher education and the public sciences have taken place over the past 40 or so years in many OECD countries. These have affected the nature of authority relationships governing research priorities and the evaluation of results. In particular, the increasing exogeneity, formalisation and substantive nature of governance mechanisms, as well as the strength and extent of their enforcement, have altered the relative authority of different groups and organisations over research priorities and evaluations, as well as creating some new ones. These shifts in authority have occurred to different degrees in differently organised public science systems. As a result, the diversity and longevity of many research projects, the intensity of competition for disciplinary reputations and the coordination of research goals and outcomes across universities and national boundaries have changed to different degrees in different countries.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Bache, Ian, and Matthew Flinders (eds.). 2004. Multi-level governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bleiklie, Ivar. 2005. Organizing higher education in a knowledge society. Higher Education 49: 31–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bleiklie, Ivar, and Maurice Kogan. 2007. Organization and governance of universities. Higher Education Policy 20: 477–493.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Braben, Donald W. 2004. Pioneering research: A risk worth taking. Chichester: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Braun, Dietmar, and F.-X. Merrien (eds.). 1999. Towards a new model of governance for universities? A comparative view London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

  • Brint, Steven. 2005. Creating the future: ‘New directions’ in American research universities. Minerva 43: 23–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Casper, Steven. 2007. Creating Silicon Valley in Europe: Public policy towards new technology industries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Chan Kwok Bun (ed.). 2000. Chinese business networks: State economy and culture. Singapore: Prentice-Hall Asia.

  • Clark, Burton. 1983. The higher education system: Academic organization in cross-national perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, Burton R. 1998. Creating entrepreneurial universities: Organizational pathways of transformation. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooper, Mark H. 2009. Commercialization of the university and problem choice by academic biological scientists. Science, Technology and Human Values 34: 629–653.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Croissant, Jennifer, and Sal Restivo (eds.). 2001. Degrees of compromise: Industrial interests and academic values. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crouch, Colin. 2005. Capitalist diversity and change: Recombinant governance and institutional entrepreneurs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • de Boer, Harry, Jurgen Enders, and Liudvika Leistye. 2007. Public sector reform in Dutch higher education: The organizational transformation of the university. Public Administration 85: 27–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • DiMaggio, Paul. 2001. Conclusion: The futures of business organization and paradoxes of change. In The twenty-first-century firm: Changing economic organization in international perspective, ed. P. DiMaggio, 210–243. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

  • Drori, Gili S., John W. Meyer, Francisco O. Ramirez, and Evan Schofer. 2003. Science in the modern world polity: Institutionalization and globalization. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edqvist, Olle. 2003. Layered science and science policies. Minerva 41: 207–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Engwall, Lars, and Dennis Weaire (eds.). 2008. The university in the market. London: Portland Press.

  • Engwall, Lars, Matthias Kipping, and Behlul Usdiken. 2010. Public science systems, higher education and the trajectory of academic disciplines: Business studies in the United States and Europe. In Reconfiguring knowledge production: Changing authority relationships on the sciences and their consequences for intellectual innovation, eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 325–369. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Evans, Peter. 1994. Embedded autonomy: States and industrial transformation. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferlie, Ewan, Christine Musselin, and Gianluca Andresani. 2009. The ‘steering’ of higher education systems: A public management perspective. In University Governance, eds. C. Paradeise et al. 1–20.

  • Geiger, Roger. 1986. To advance knowledge: The growth of American research universities 1900–1940. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gerlach, Michael. 1992. Alliance capitalism. Berkeley, CA: University of California.

    Google Scholar 

  • Geuna, Aldo, and Ben R. Martin. 2003. University research evaluation and funding: An international comparison. Minerva 41: 277–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glaeser, Jochen, and Grit Laudel. 2007. Evaluation without evaluators: The impact of funding formulae on Australian university research. In The Changing Governance of the Sciences, eds. R. Whitley and J. Glaeser, 127–152.

  • Glaeser, Jochen, Stefan Lange, Grit Laudel, and Uwe Schimank. 2010. The limits of universality: How field-specific epistemic conditions affect authority relations and their consequences. In Reconfiguring knowledge production, eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 291–324.

  • Hagstrom, Warren. 1965. The scientific community. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Henkel, Mary, and Brenda Little (eds.). 1999. Changing relationships between higher education and the state. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hollingsworth, J. Rogers, Philippe Schmitter, and Wolfgang Streeck (eds.). 1994. Governing capitalist economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Hollingsworth, J. Rogers, and Robert Boyer (eds.). 1997. Contemporary capitalism: The embeddedness of institutions. Cambridge University Press.

  • Jessop, Bob. 2004. Multi-level governance and multi-level metagovernance. In Multi-level governance, eds. I. Bache and M. Flinders, 49–74

  • Johnson, C. 1982. MITI and the Japanese miracle. Stanford University Press.

  • King, Roger. 2007. Governance and accountability in the higher education regulatory state. Higher Education 53: 411–430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, Daniel, and Steven Vallas. 2001. Science, capitalism and the rise of the ‘knowledge worker’: The changing structure of knowledge production in the United States. Theory and Society 30: 451–492.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kneller, Robert. 2010. The changing governance of Japanese public science. In Reconfiguring the public sciences, eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 110–145.

  • Krimsky, Sheldon. 2003. Science in the private interest: Has the lure of profits corrupted biomedical research? Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kruecken, Georg. 2003. Learning the ‘new, new thing’: On the role of path dependency in university structures. Higher Education 46: 315–339.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kruecken, Georg, and Frank Meier. 2006. Turning the university into an organizational actor. In Globalization and organization: World society and organizational change, eds. G. S. Drori, J. W. Meyer, and H. Hwang, 241–257. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Lee, Frederic. 2007. The research assessment exercise, the state and the dominance of mainstream economics in British universities. Cambridge Journal of Economics 31: 309–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leisyte, Liudvika, Jurgen Enders, and Harry de Boer. 2010. Mediating problem choice: Academic researchers response to their institutional environment. In Reconfiguring Knowledge Production, eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 266–290.

  • Louvel, Severine. 2010. Changing authority relations within French academic research units since the 1960s: From patronage to partnership. In Reconfiguring Knowledge Production., eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 184–210.

  • Martin, Ben, and Richard Whitley. 2010. The UK research assessment exercise: A case of regulatory capture? In Reconfiguring knowledge production, eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 51–80.

  • Meier, Frank, and Uwe Schimank. 2010. Mission now possible: Profile building and leadership in German universities. In Reconfiguring knowledge production., eds. R. Whitley, J. Glaeser, and L. Engwall, 211–236.

  • Metcalfe, J. S. 2010. University and business relations: Connecting the knowledge economy. Minerva 48: 5–33.

    Google Scholar 

  • Meulen, Barend van der, and Loet Leydesdorff. 1991. Has the study of philosophy and Dutch universities changed under economic and political pressure? Science, Technology, and Human Values 16: 288–321.

  • Mowery, David C., Richard R. Nelson, Bhaven N. Sampat, and Arvids A. Ziedonis. 2004. Ivory tower and industrial innovation: University-industry technology transfer before and after the Bayh-Dole Act. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Musselin, Christine. 2007. Are universities specific organisations? In Towards a multiversity? Universities between global trends and national traditions, eds. G. Kruecken, A. Kosmützky, and M. Torka, 63–84. Bielefeld: transcript verlag.

  • Owen-Smith, Jason. 2001. New arenas for university competition: Accumulative advantage in academic patenting. In Degrees of Compromise, eds. J. Croissant and S. Restivo, 23–53.

  • Owen-Smith, Jason. 2003. From separate systems to a hybrid order: Accumulative advantage across public and private science at Research One universities. Research Policy 32: 1081–1104.

  • Paradeise, Catherine, Ivar Bleiklie, Jurgen Enders, Gaele Goastellec, Sven Michelsen, Emanuele Reale, and Don F. Westerheijden. 2009a. Reform policies and change processes in Europe. In International perspectives on the governance of higher education,, ed. J. Huisman, 88–106. London: Routledge.

  • Paradeise, Catherine, Emanuela Reale, Ivar Bleiklie, and Ewan Ferlie (eds.). 2009b. University governance: Western European comparative perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Paradeise, Catherine, Emanuele Reale, and Gaele Goastellec. 2009c. A comparative approach to higher education reforms in Western European Countries. In University governance, eds. C. Paradeise et al., 197–226.

  • Pestre, Dominique. 2003. Regimes of knowledge production in society: Towards a more political and social reading. Minerva 41: 245–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenau, James. 2004. Strong demand, huge supply: Governance in an emerging epoch. In Multi-level governance, eds. I. Bache and M. Flinders, 31–48.

  • Ruivo, Beatriz. 1994. ’Phases’ or ‘paradigms’ of science policy? Science and Public Policy 21: 157–164.

  • Saxenian, Annalee. 1994. Regional advantage: Culture and competition in silicon valley and route 128. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schiene, Christof, and Uwe Schimank. 2007. Research evaluation as organisational development: The work of the academic advisory council in Lower Saxony. In The Changing Governance of the Sciences, eds. R. Whitley and J. Glaeser, 171–190.

  • Schimank, Uwe. 2005. ‘New public management’ and the academic profession: Reflections on the German situation. Minerva 43: 361–376.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Slaughter, Sheila, and Larry Leslie. 1997. Academic capitalism: Politics, policies and the entrepreneurial university. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stokes, Donald E. 1997. Pasteur’s quadrant: basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

  • Tabil, Ameen Ali. 2001. The continued behavioural modification of academics since the 1992 research assessment exercise. Higher Education Review 33: 30–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thelin, John R. 2004. A history of American higher education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weingart, Peter, and Sabine Maasen. 2007. Elite through rankings—The emergence of the enterprising university. In The Changing Governance of the Sciences, eds. R. Whitley and J. Glaeser, 75–100.

  • Whitley, Richard. 1987. Taking firms seriously as economic actors: Towards a sociology of firm behaviour. Organization Studies 8: 125–147.

    Google Scholar 

  • Whitley, Richard. 2000. The intellectual and social organization of the sciences (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press (first edition 1984).

  • Whitley, Richard. 2007a. Business systems and organisational capabilities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Whitley, Richard. 2007b. Changing governance of the public sciences: The consequences of establishing research evaluation systems for knowledge production in different countries and scientific fields. In The Changing Governance of the Sciences, eds. R. Whitley and J. Glaeser, 3–27.

  • Whitley, Richard. 2008. Universities as strategic actors: Limitations and variations. In The University in the Market, eds. Lars, Engwall and Denis Weaire, 23–37. London: Portland Press.

  • Whitley, Richard. 2010. Reconfiguring the public sciences: The impact of governance changes on authority and innovation in public science systems. In Reconfiguring knowledge production, eds. R. Whitley et al., 3–47. Oxford University Press.

  • Whitley, Richard, and Jochen Glaeser (eds.). 2007. The Changing Governance of the Sciences. Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook. Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Whitley, Richard, Jochen Glaeser, and Lars Engwall (eds.). 2010. Reconfiguring knowledge production: Changing authority relationships on the sciences and their consequences for intellectual innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, Susan, and Jakob Williams Orberg. 2009. Prometheus (on the) rebound? Freedom and the Danish steering system. In International perspectives on the governance of higher education, ed. J. Huisman, 69–87. London: Routledge.

  • Ziman, John. 1994. Prometheus bound: Science in a dynamic steady state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ziman, John. 2000. Real science: What it is and what it means. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard Whitley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Whitley, R. Changing Governance and Authority Relations in the Public Sciences. Minerva 49, 359–385 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: