On Striking The Right Notes: Shifts In Governance And The Organisational Transformation Of Universities

  • Jürgen Enders
  • Harry De Boer
  • Liudvika Leisyte
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 24)

During the last decades traditional state-centered governing arrangements have been critiqued and replaced by alternative modes of governance. These shifts have been driven by economic, ideological and pragmatic motives (Pierre and Peters 2000; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000). The introduction of alternative ways of exercising collective control and influencing society has led to a widespread interest in the concept of ‘governance’. Recent overviews — amongst others by Rhodes (2000), Pierre and Peters (2000), Peters (2001), van Kersbergen and van Waarden (2004), Hajer et al. (2004) — discuss the differences and similarities among the various governance approaches as well as the absence of a general agreed-upon definition of the governance concept. At the same time, they leave no doubt that the forms and mechanisms of governance, the location of governance, the governing capabilities and the styles of governance have not only been discussed but have been modified or substantially changed. The consequences of such changes are seldom linear, most of the time unpredictable and contestable. Are they ‘merely a way of wrapping government in a new paper which is more palatable to the public, or does the idea represent something qualitatively new and different?’ (Pierre and Peters 2000: 68)

On the basis of governance, new public management and organisational change literature, we discuss changes in the ways of governing and organising universities as professional public sector organisations. We will argue that traditional and alternative ways of governing and organising universities form a hybrid of deeply embedded old and ‘sedimenting’ new structures and processes. Therefore, transformational change in the public sector may remain more limited in scope and depth than has often been argued by the proponents of alternative steering models (for the case of higher education, see also Kogan et al. 2006; Askling and Henkel 2006). We will support our view with empirical data drawn from a number of studies on change and stability in higher education policies and organisational practices in the Netherlands over the last three decades (a.o. Maassen and van Vught 1989; Binsbergen et al. 1991; Goedegebuure et al. 1993; Westerheijden 1997; Rip 1998; de Weert 2000; Jongbloed 2003; de Boer 2003; Huisman and Toonen 2004; Jeliazkova and Westerheijden 2004). In these studies macro-level changes in higher education policy in national and cross-national perspectives as well as processes of organisational change in universities have been investigated.


High Education High Education System Corporate Actor Organisational Transformation Executive Board 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jürgen Enders
    • 1
  • Harry De Boer
    • 1
  • Liudvika Leisyte
  1. 1.University of TwenteNetherlands

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