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Burton Clark’s The Higher Education System: Academic Organization in Cross‐National Perspective


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In The Higher Education System , Burton Clark provides a model for the organisational analysis of higher education institutions and systems. Central to the model are the concepts of knowledge, beliefs and authority. In particular, Clark examines how different interest groups both inside and outside the university shape and subvert the management of change. Within the university, Clark notes the tensions between the 'enterprise' and the 'discipline' and at the system level between the state authority, the market and the academic oligarchy. In considering the applicability of Clark's model to an understanding of today's higher education systems and institutions, one can note a weakening of boundaries both within higher education institutions and between them and other institutions of society. Arguably, there has been a lessening of the organisational distinctiveness of universities and an invasion by the language and ideas of the business world. The broadening of the social functions of modern higher education systems may be one of the reasons why academic authority seems to be subject to greater external challenge. Nevertheless, much of Clark's analytic model remains highly relevant to our understanding of higher education systems and institutions even if their empirical manifestations have changed over the intervening years. Clark's model shares much in common with a more recent analysis of the changing relationship between higher education and society conducted as part of a recent project of the European Science Foundation, although changes in emphasis and in authority relationships are also revealed.
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London Review of Education
Vol. 8, No. 3, November 2010, 229–237
ISSN 1474-8460 print/ISSN 1474-8479 online
© 2010 Institute of Education, University of London
DOI: 10.1080/14748460.2010.515122
Burton Clark’s The Higher Education System: Academic Organization in
Cross-National Perspective
The Higher Education System: Academic Organization in Cross-National
Perspective, by Burton R. Clark, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California
Press, 1983
John Brennan*
Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, Open University, London and Milton Keynes, UK
Taylor and FrancisCLRE_A_515122.sgm10.1080/14748460.2010.515122London Review of Education1474-8460 (print)/1474-8479 (online)Original Article2010Taylor & In The Higher Education System, Burton Clark provides a model for the organisational analysis
of higher education institutions and systems. Central to the model are the concepts of
knowledge, beliefs and authority. In particular, Clark examines how different interest groups
both inside and outside the university shape and subvert the management of change. Within
the university, Clark notes the tensions between the ‘enterprise’ and the ‘discipline’ and at
the system level between the state authority, the market and the academic oligarchy. In
considering the applicability of Clark’s model to an understanding of today’s higher education
systems and institutions, one can note a weakening of boundaries both within higher
education institutions and between them and other institutions of society. Arguably, there has
been a lessening of the organisational distinctiveness of universities and an invasion by the
language and ideas of the business world. The broadening of the social functions of modern
higher education systems may be one of the reasons why academic authority seems to be
subject to greater external challenge. Nevertheless, much of Clark’s analytic model remains
highly relevant to our understanding of higher education systems and institutions even if their
empirical manifestations have changed over the intervening years. Clark’s model shares much
in common with a more recent analysis of the changing relationship between higher education
and society conducted as part of a recent project of the European Science Foundation,
although changes in emphasis and in authority relationships are also revealed.
Keywords: universities; academic organisation; disciplines; university management;
higher education
In The Higher Education System, published in 1983, Burton Clark attempted to do four things
simultaneously. The first was to apply perspectives and techniques from organisational sociol-
ogy to the study of universities and the larger higher education systems of which they were a
part. Secondly, while applying more general techniques of sociological analysis, he was also
keen to acknowledge certain unique features of universities as social institutions. Thirdly, he
drew on his substantial knowledge of a range of different national higher education systems to
support and illustrate his analysis. And fourthly, he explicitly addressed normative issues
concerning governance and decision-making in universities. On that final point, it is Clark’s
explicitness that is its distinctive feature. So much writing and analysis about universities is
implicitly normative, reflecting and promoting values and interests of the author. But Clark was
explicit about it, reflecting the fact/value dichotomies that were central to sociological ways of
thinking at the time.
230 J. Brennan
Much has changed in the world and in universities since 1983. But then again, universities
have been around a lot longer than 30 years and, for many authors, it is their longevity and tradi-
tions which are their defining features. The point is made powerfully right at the opening of The
Higher Education System with a quotation from one of sociology’s French founding fathers, Emile
It is rare to find an institution which is at once so uniform and so diverse; it is recognisable in all the
guises which it takes, but in no one place is it identical with what it is in any other. This unity and
diversity constitute the final proof of the extent to which the university was the spontaneous prod-
uct of mediaeval life; for it is only living things which can in this way, while fully retaining their identity,
bend and adapt themselves to a whole variety of circumstances and environments. (Emile Durkheim,
The Evolution of Educational Thought, cited in Clark 1983, xiv)
One cannot but wonder whether, if writing a new edition of his book today, Clark would
have found Durkheim’s words quite so apposite to describe the forces driving university devel-
opments and organisation. Many of these were of course the focus of Clark’s later work on
Entrepreneurial Universities, exploring some of the consequences of ‘academic capitalism’ and
the ‘knowledge society’ in broadly approving ways (Clark 1998).
It is, however, the analysis contained in the original book written in 1983 which is the focus
of the present paper. I want to consider the extent to which its analytic framework remains
serviceable in supporting our understanding of modern universities and higher education
systems. I will also compare it briefly with recent work carried out by the European Science
Foundation which also sought to locate the study of higher education systems within larger
social science perspectives. And, finally, I would like to consider how much of Clark’s normative
framework we would wish to subscribe to today.
A distinctive institution
Some key words in Clark’s 1983 analysis are ‘disorder’, ‘uniqueness’, ‘differentiation’ and ‘inter-
ests’ with especial emphasis on the latter: ‘He who says academic organisation says interest
groups’ (Clark 1983, 10). And these terms are used in ways which have both analytic and norma-
tive force. There is a clear functionalist element to Clark’s thinking here, with the implication
that ‘things need to be the way they are’.
Clark’s starting point for his analysis, and the basis for his claims about ‘distinctiveness’, lie
in the centrality of ‘knowledge materials’ and ‘knowledge groups’ to the organisational shape of
universities. Along with UK authors, Maurice Kogan and Tony Becher (Becher 1989; Becher and
Kogan 1980, 1992), Clark emphasised the centrality of the ‘basic unit’ of the subject-based
university department to the delivery of the core functions of the university. In his analysis, Clark
saw and welcomed the combination of weak boundaries between and strong autonomies within
these basic units.
Central to the analysis of how work was organised in universities was the co-existence of
the ‘discipline’ and the ‘enterprise’ as basic groupings bringing with them sources of values and
authority. Much of the distinctiveness of the university as an organisation lay in the importance
of disciplinary authority, summarised by Clark in three features: (i) the core membership unit in
academic systems is discipline-centred; (ii) each disciplinary unit within the enterprise has self-
evident and acclaimed primacy in a front-line task; (iii) the characteristics of core membership
groups affect everything else of importance in the organisation (Clark 1983, 33–4). Clark notes
at the time the differences that existed between the relative importance of discipline and enter-
prise authority in different national higher education systems. From a UK perspective, one can
surely note a major shift in power from discipline to enterprise within most universities over
the years since The Higher Education System was published, a shift partly caused by new managerial
London Review of Education 231
trends but also by developments in modes of knowledge organisation – more interdisciplinary
courses for students and more ‘mode 2’ applied and interdisciplinary research. Indeed, an inter-
esting trend to be observed in the UK and elsewhere is the organisational separation of research
and teaching and the consequent diminution of disciplinary authority in the process.
Clark moves between system-level and institutional-level analyses and makes abundant use
of typologies in the process. At the system level, he makes the distinction between horizontal
and vertical forms of differentiation. The former is discussed in terms of the organisation of insti-
tutions into distinct sectors, distinguishing between (i) single public system: single sector (citing
several Latin American and European Mediterranean countries as examples); (ii) single public
system: multiple sectors (the most common form, citing Thailand, Iran and Poland as examples
but finding the form pervasive more generally in communist societies, western democracies and
Third World countries alike); (iii) multiple public systems: multiple sectors (with Australia,
Canada, Great Britain, West Germany and Mexico all cited as examples); (iv) private and public
systems: multiple sectors (with Japan and the US along with Chile, Peru, Columbia and Brazil all
cited as examples). The reach of Clark’s comparative perspectives is illustrated by the above. In
his comments on the vertical differentiation of higher education systems in the early 1980s,
Clark cites France and Great Britain as rather extreme examples with North American systems
occupying the more middle ground and European countries such as Germany and Italy exhibiting
relatively little status ranking. Nearly 30 years on, with global rankings obsessing at least the
English-speaking university worlds, it is worth remembering that some national systems are still
marked by relatively little status differences among institutions.
Turning to the institutional level, Clark proceeds to set out his organisational analysis of
universities by reference to a series of questions, each of which is the subject of one of the book’s
chapters. The questions are: (i) How is work arranged? (ii) How are beliefs maintained? (iii) How
is authority distributed? (iv) How are systems integrated? (v) How does change take place?
These are pretty central questions to our understanding of higher education and they are
also pretty open ones empirically. In seeking to answer them, Clark warns of the dangers of
adopting a ‘hometown’ view: ‘Cross-national comparison is particularly advantageous in uncov-
ering the unique features and unconscious assumptions that possess our vision when we study
a single country, generally our own’ (Clark 1983, 2).
The same sentiment could also be expressed about attempts to study our own universities.
The familiarities of our everyday university worlds can get in the way of wider empirically-
informed theorising about university systems (Brennan 2007).
In seeking answers to each of the five questions referred to above, Clark employs key
concepts of knowledge, belief and authority. Relationships to knowledge are at the heart of the
enterprises of the university’s basic units which, along with beliefs, are central to the shaping of
identities and relationships within the academic community. Adopting Tony Becher’s notion of
‘academic tribes’, we can view the worlds of universities in terms of memberships of distinctive
tribal cultures: ‘a culture… some shared accounts and common beliefs that help define for
participants who they are, what they are doing, why they are doing it, and whether they have
been blessed or cursed’ (Clark 1983, 72).
But it was in addressing questions of authority that Clark provided us with his most
popular conceptual tool, the famous triangle of co-ordination! In looking at questions of
authority, Clark’s focus moved beyond the inner world of the individual higher education
institution to consider the university’s place in the larger worlds outside its doors. The
‘triangle of co-ordination’ had at its corners three sources of authority deriving from the
state, the market and the academic oligarchy.
Figure 1. The triangle of co-ordination (Clark 1983, 143).
Looked at nearly 30 years on, both the positioning of individual countries and the overall
distribution of countries within the triangle have changed, though the size of the movement of
232 J. Brennan
individual countries within the walls of the triangle differ substantially. Arguably, Britain is one of
the bigger movers heading away from the academic oligarchy in a zigzag fashion towards the
corners of the state and the market. But that original positioning of countries in 1983 can serve
to remind us of the force of traditions and history in attempting to understand the forces of
power and authority in different jurisdictions today.
What, however, the triangle fails to do is to address the different ways in which power can
be distributed at the academic oligarchy corner of the triangle, the differences between the
managerial authority possessed by the institutional leaderships of universities based on the
Anglo-Saxon model against the more distributed faculty authority models in combination with
considerable professorial autonomy and authority of more Humboldtian models. The price of
the latter could be greater state authority and of the former greater market authority or influ-
ence. It is arguably in the balancing of these different internal distributions of authority that most
recent trends in university administration and governance lie.
Figure 1. The triangle of co-ordination (Clark 1983, 143).
London Review of Education 233
However, in the text of the book, Clark himself also distinguishes between different forms
and levels of authority within the university. Thus, academic authority may be discipline-rooted
with sub-types of personal rulership (professorial), collegial rulership (professorial), guild
authority and professional authority all to be found. Within more enterprise-based authority,
trustee authority (institutional) and bureaucratic authority (institutional) can be distinguished.
And at the system level, bureaucratic authority (governmental), political authority and system-
wide academic oligarchy can all be found. These elaborate typologies for understanding differ-
ences in the ways universities are organised at both system and institutional levels might be
applied with value to enhancing our understanding of present-day diversities within and across
higher education systems.
It is worth noting, however, that the two co-ordinating organisations of the academic
oligarchy in the UK pointed to by Clark in 1983 – the University Grants Committee and the
Council for National Academic Awards – have both long gone, the replacements of both draw-
ing their authority from a combination of the state and institutional managements. But it is also
worth pointing out that Clark also describes how easily formal lines of authority can be
subverted. He refers to the common practice within many central and eastern European coun-
tries of state authority being ‘infiltrated’ by senior professors from the local (capital city)
university. The present author fondly recalls a dinner in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, with
the then Deputy Minister for Higher Education in the Bulgarian Government along with her
two immediate predecessors, where the main topic of conversation was the difficulty of
combining the duties of Deputy Minister with one’s ongoing teaching and research commit-
ments at Sofia University!
The point is perhaps central to Clark’s and other analyses of academic organisations: the
pervasiveness of compliance and subversion in academics’ dealings with authority. Interesting
questions posed by Clark’s analytic model concern whether today’s greater ‘managerialism’ and
controls exercised within the academy successfully overthrow centuries of subversive tradition.
Clark’s preferences are clear:
We need… administrative doctrines and broader ideologies that tell officials they are doing alright
when the system as a whole looks a mess, nearly everyone in the system feels powerless, and no
one can clearly identify who is doing what to whom. (Clark 1983, 273)
Key issues facing academia in 1983
Moving on from Clark’s analytic models to the substantive issues facing higher education at the
time of his writing, six questions are posed: (i) What determines access? (ii) How can general
education be supported? (iii) Can higher education be further ‘democratised’? (iv) Can the inte-
gration of teaching and research be maintained in mass higher education? (v) In a time of
expanding state power, what is happening to institutional autonomy? (vi) Is ‘graduate unemploy-
ment’ inevitable?
With the benefits of hindsight, one can note how issues come and go. But the above list still
strikes many chords and overlaps considerably with contemporary debates, both within the UK
and elsewhere.
Clark’s list of issues is complemented by a list of key values: of social justice, competence,
liberty and loyalty. These are values possessed in different combinations and to different degrees
by academic workers, governments and other stakeholders. Clark saw the tensions between
them, observing wryly that ‘any sensible administrator asked to confront directly and to recon-
cile these four orientations would undoubtedly seek other employment’ (Clark 1983, 231).
Clark saw ambiguity, disorder and conflict as endemic and directly arising out of the tensions
between these values. Looking at the list today, one wonders about the continuing salience of
234 J. Brennan
values of liberty and loyalty and their possible replacement by words such as competitiveness
and entrepreneurship.
As indicated earlier, as well as presenting an analytical framework and a set of substantive
issues to be addressed, Clark was not reticent in presenting his own ideas of ‘what should be
His overarching preferences were set out under four headings: the division of power; the
support of variety; the legitimation of disorder; and the uniqueness of higher education. On the
latter, he comments that ‘it does not make much sense to evaluate business firms according to
how much they act like universities… Neither does it make any sense to do the reverse’ (Clark
1983, 251).
In the English-speaking world at least, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that many key
actors, both inside and outside higher education, do in fact expect universities to behave like
businesses. As business terminologies, values and consultants increasingly invade the corridors
of universities, one wonders how far the older claims for higher education’s uniqueness and
exceptionalism remain relevant and valid.
As well as these overarching value preferences, Clark also sets out a series of ‘ideas’ for
higher education to adopt. While it is not clear how far these ideas derive from the application
of Clark’s analytic model or from his own values and preferences, many of them are still highly
relevant to contemporary debates about how we should organise our universities and higher
education systems. Here are just six of Clark’s key ideas from 1983:
Conflict among basic values in higher education is accommodated better by diverse than
by simple structures. (254)
In the service of competence, the most crucial form of diversification in modern advanced
systems is vertical status differentiation among institutions. (255) (In part justified by Clark
on the grounds that ‘status inequality makes for hope’ (256).)
In the service of liberty, the most essential form of diversification is the creation and main-
tenance of different sectors and subsectors. (257)
Justice in higher education is most effectively implemented if it is institutionally disaggre-
gated instead of applied blanket fashion across a system. (259)
State control of higher education works better by long-run rewards than by short-run
sanctions. (260)
Value ambivalence in higher education is mirrored in structural ambivalence. (261)
It is possible to see in this list some of the features of US higher education then and now and
of the interests of the elite institutions of the system to which Clark belonged. For all that, they
are interesting and far-sighted points concerning important choices that have to be made about
the shape and form of higher education systems and the steering mechanisms which guide them.
Key issues facing academia in 2010
Starting from a similar proposition to that adopted by Burton Clark in 1983, that is higher educa-
tion should be examined within a wider context of social science research, the European Science
Foundation (ESF) recently supported a ‘Forward Look’ activity to look at higher education and
to derive a future research agenda for it. As part of the Forward look, a series of working papers
were commissioned on different higher education themes and were discussed and subsequently
revised at a series of cross-national workshops during 2007/8 at different European venues. The
themes were: (i) higher education and the needs of the knowledge society; (ii) higher education
and the achievement (or prevention) of equity and social justice; (iii) higher education and its
communities: interconnections and interdependencies; (iv) steering and governance of higher
London Review of Education 235
education; (v) differentiation and diversity of institutional forms and professional roles. If we
compare the themes with the main lines of enquiry of The Higher Education System, we can note
rather greater concerns with externalities – especially in themes (i) to (iii) – with the overlaps
more concentrated on themes (iv) and (v) dealing respectively with steering mechanisms and
institutional forms.
The final report of the ESF project (Brennan et al. 2008) provides a synthesis of the project’s
findings under the headings of (i) changing socio-political contexts; (ii) mechanisms of interaction
between society and higher education; (iii) the implications for higher education; (iv) the impact
of higher education on society; (v) methodological issues. Drawing on all of the Forward Look
work, the report proposes a research agenda made up of the following questions:
(i) What are the relationships and interconnections between contemporary social and
economic changes and transformations and the changes and transformations occurring
within higher education institutions and the role of academics?
(ii) How are the changes in the balance of power between higher education’s different
constituencies and interests impacting upon the nature of higher education’s social
functions and the manner in which these are discharged?
(iii) Are a growing multifunctionality of higher education and a blurring of its boundaries
with other social institutions necessary in order for higher education to have an impor-
tance within a ‘knowledge society’?
(iv) How do changes in the organisation of higher education institutions relate to changes
in intellectual programmes, agendas and advances?
(v) Do different forms of differentiation and inter-institutional diversity result in different
relationships between higher education and the larger social and economic worlds of
which it is a part?
(vi) To what extent and in what ways do national, regional and local contexts continue to
play a decisive role in determining the characteristics of modern higher education
systems? What is the role played by various public authorities? How much variation is
there in the extent to which universities are internationally connected or integrated
and with what consequences?
(vii) How might new forms of comparative research, involving both quantitative and
qualitative approaches, be employed in order to achieve a better understanding of the
interactions between higher education and society and the different forms these inter-
actions take in different parts of Europe and more widely?
The Forward Look led to the development of a new international programme of compara-
tive research on ‘Higher Education and Society’ (EUROHESC) with four multinational projects
funded to explore some of the above questions.1 The purposes of the ESF’s and Clark’s agendas
contain both differences and overlaps. One important difference, of course, is that whereas the
ESF was mainly just posing questions in the Forward Look, Clark was simultaneously also seeking
to supply answers. But it is also possible to see ways in which key elements of Clark’s analytic
framework could be used to explore some of the questions posed by the ESF report. In partic-
ular, Clark’s framing of the different forms of authority to be found across different higher
education systems is suggestive of different forms of engagement between universities and the
larger social worlds that are indicated in the ESF agenda. And within these different forms of
authority and engagement may lie different capabilities of higher education to change and
respond to different external circumstances and expectations.
In his own analysis of change, Clark points to the difficulties, if not impossibilities, of achieving
it within institutions characterised by differing mixes of order and disorder, control and subver-
sion. In a recent UK study undertaken by the present author on the regional impacts of
236 J. Brennan
universities,2 several external stakeholders noted how ‘vice-chancellors could not deliver their
universities’. In the same study, a number of vice-chancellors did not deny the charge. Change,
where it happens, may be more likely to occur at the level of the basic unit. Clark notes that:
Units can independently prosper or burn out, survive or die – with the latter usually coming about
by slow attenuation over a long period of time, turning a once vibrant organism into a mere shell of
its former self. (Clark 1983, 187)
Survival or death may be particularly apt notions to apply to UK higher education at the
present time. Clark’s analysis of change processes in terms of order and disorder and in terms
of integration and differentiation remains useful today. But also his emphasis upon the resis-
tances to change embedded in structures and cultures within individual higher education
systems will be either reassuring or frightening, according to the reader’s interests and values.
Institutions do adapt, but they tend to do so in idiosyncratic and unpredictable ways. Again quot-
ing Durkheim, Clark writes:
It is the peculiar internal constitutions of universities that allow them, in Durkheim’s phrase, to ‘bend
and adapt themselves to a whole variety of circumstances and environments’ thus producing
diversity… and, at the same time, to maintain an appearance of similarity. (Clark 1983, 187)
The ‘appearance of similarity’ and the reality of difference are among the many key underly-
ing assumptions of Clark’s writings.
The higher education system in the twenty-first century
In the intervening decades since Clark gave us The Higher Education System, we have witnessed
in many countries of the world a continued expansion of higher education, increased differenti-
ation – both horizontal and vertical – new forms of relationship between higher education and
the state, growing marketisation and consumerism, the effects of globalisation, of the arrival of
‘new public management’ and a range of different claims for the ‘knowledge society’ and higher
education’s place within it. Clark’s analysis is an excellent reminder of where our higher
education institutions are coming from. But how good is it as a pointer to the future, how to
understand it and how to shape it.
Clark’s central concepts of knowledge, belief and authority remain essential tools in our
attempts to both comprehend and shape the work of universities and other higher education
institutions. They are particularly valuable when used to examine the very real differences which
exist between both different kinds of universities and different kinds of higher education system.
And the recognition that there are very real differences – notwithstanding globalisation effects
– between different systems and institutional traditions is something which Clark’s continuous
use of international comparisons usefully alerts us to.
However, there are differences between now and then, at least in terms of emphasis if not
in more fundamental ways. One of these lies in the permeation of boundaries, both within higher
education institutions and between them and other social institutions. The boundaries of those
once so powerful ‘basic units’ of higher education organisation are today generally much weaker
than when Clark was writing. As noted earlier, internally the ‘enterprise’ has acquired greater
force together with the power and desire to re-write knowledge maps and to pull down knowl-
edge walls, albeit while resurrecting new ones in different locations. And externally, new chan-
nels and mechanisms to achieve greater responsiveness and accountability are to be found
everywhere, even if resistances remain and outcomes cannot be assured. In achieving many of
their functions, today’s universities must enter into alliances and partnerships with all sorts of
organisations. They may still strive for their autonomy and independence, but their ability to
achieve them is rather less, the more so for some types of institutions than others.
London Review of Education 237
Arguably, higher education’s growing importance in modern societies means that its direc-
tion and development can no longer be left to the insiders, to the academic tribes and their
interests. Consumerism directs more power to the university’s students. Managerialism directs
more power to the enterprise and its managers, and beyond them to the representatives of the
state and other external stakeholders. And the knowledge society points to the need for more
collaborations and partnerships with other organisations, collaborations and partnership where
the university is no longer the senior or major partner.
The need to add new elements and new emphases to Clark’s analysis of nearly 30 years ago
does nothing to lessen the enormous value and usefulness of the original. To those who use
them, to those who work in them, to those who pay for them, and especially to those who
attempt to steer and govern them, Burton Clark’s analysis of academic organisation remains an
essential tool of both enlightenment and survival.
1. ‘Higher Education and Social Change’ is a EUROCORES programme of the European Science
2. ‘Higher Education and Regional Transformation: Social and Cultural Perspectives’, a research project
funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Notes on contributor
John Brennan is Professor of Higher Education Research at the Open University where he is also Director
of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information. He is the author of several books and many
articles on higher education’s changing relationships with society and has directed many national and inter-
national projects which have explored these themes.
Becher, T. 1989. Academic tribes and territories. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Becher, T., and M. Kogan. 1980/1992. Process and structure in higher education. London: Routledge
Brennan, J. 2007. On researching ourselves: The difficult case of autonomy in researching higher educa-
tion. In Autonomy in social science university research – the view from the UK and Australian universities, ed.
C. Kayrooz, G. Akerlind, and M. Tight, 167–82. London: Elsevier.
Brennan, J., J. Enders, C. Musselin, U. Teichler, and C. Musselin. 2008. Higher education looking forward: An
agenda for future research. Strasbourg: European Science Foundation.
Clark, B.R. 1983. The higher education system: Academic organization in cross-national perspective. Berkeley
and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Clark, B.R. 1998. Creating entrepreneurial universities: Organisational pathways of transformation. Dordrecht:
Durkheim, E. 1977. The evolution of educational thought. London: Routledge.
... They further argued that due to a small number of comprehensive multivariate studies conducted in Europe, generalizability becomes a challenge, primarily because the performance of HEIs depends upon a host of different contextual factors across European systems (p.221). Brennan (2010) also argued that there is a need for both quantitative and qualitative comparative research for a better understanding of the interaction between higher education and society in its varied forms in different parts of Europe (p.235). The PBF studies in Europe often focus only on a few systems. ...
... Other countries, namely France, Britain, Canada, and Japan, had mixed forms of coordination with varying degrees of influence from the three sources of authority. Brennan (2010) noted that despite many changes in higher education, some of Clark's concepts are still very relevant today. In the next few paragraphs, we have discussed some of the changing trends which have emerged in European higher education during the last three decades. ...
... These IOs converge and diverge on various policyrelated issues; therefore, it not easy to generalize on their practices (Riyad A Shahjahan, 2012). Despite global isomorphism, there are differences in various systems and institutions across the globe (Brennan, 2010) because globalization sometimes creates a convergence of policies, but other times it may lead to heterogeneous outcomes when local actors exercise their agency (Vaira, 2004, p.484). Therefore, we have identified here the various initiatives at all three levels, which can have implications for PBF adoption in the European higher education space. ...
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There is a reason to question the most commonly stated determinants for the adoption and diffusion of the performance-based funding (PBF) model in Europe. While the spread of New Public Management and other movements no doubt are associated enthusiasm for PBF, these movements do not fully explain the phenomenon in the diverse set of European tertiary education systems. Therefore, to address conceptual and methodological limitations in previous studies and to better understand the phenomenon, we intend to conduct a quantitative study which may be guided by a robust conceptual framework. As a stepping-stone, we propose here a conceptual framework for the adoption and diffusion of PBF in European higher education. This framework encompasses most of the institutional, national, and supranational actors and the varied contexts in which these actors coordinate. As a preliminary step to verify our conceptual framework, we performed a descriptive study involving eight variables. Our analysis suggests that while population size and growth rate are not substantial factors in the adoption of accountability policies in European higher education, gross tertiary enrolment, tertiary enrolment rate, and tertiary expenditure (as % of total governmental expenditure on education) seem significant factors in the adoption and diffusion of accountability policies in European higher education. We aim to stimulate a discussion on the topic, contributing to enriched understanding and research on the topic.
... knowledge, beliefs, and authority. He describes the tensions between state authority, the academic disciplines (academic oligarchy), and the market, allowing for a way to rate country systems within a group (Brennan, 2010). Clark's (1983) triangle of coordination demonstrates these core differences between the three pulls exerted on an academic 28 institution across countries. ...
... The concept of New Public Management (NPM) explains the changing relationship between the state and the university (Ferlie et al., 2008), yet managerialism remains an internal force impacting governance within a particular institution as it creates more emphasis on the institutional leaders instead of academics and the state (Brennan, 2010;Sporn, 2003). Managerialism emphasizes the effective and efficient performance of the institution. ...
... As much discussion revolves around market expectations, a race to excellence, and performance-based management, there is also a human component expected of institutional leadership within HEIs (Birnbaum, 1989). These pressures on leadership tie into the elements described in Clark's (1983) triangle of coordination where HEIs are pulled between state authority, academic beliefs, and marketization, placing the HEI institutional leadership at the forefront of these different pulls externally (Brennan, 2010). ...
Structural changes in European universities have been the subject of a significant body of research analyzing how governance is affected by external stakeholders such as states, markets, and other academic institutions, and the influence of internal stakeholders such as faculty and students. As state-imposed reforms interact with national objectives and transnational goals across Europe, two spheres of research emerge: what factors affect institutional leadership structures, and how are institutional leaders responding to those factors? Few studies have looked at the effects of a national-level reform, such as that undertaken by France since 1968. This study takes a qualitative, multi-site approach using an analysis built on coding descriptions of semi-structured interviews; documents and observations; and a review of key external indicators. A proposed framework was developed to analyze the findings based on two theoretical models of governance tensions between state, academy, and market (Clark, 1983) and governance dimensions around educational arrangements, financial autonomy, and personal autonomy (Dobbins & Knill, 2017). The findings from interviews with university presidents, senior government officials and NGOs, as well as senior consultants and experts in the field of governance, revealed that the state/university relationship in France remains very strong, even though a stratified system is observed by participants. Compiled results based on external outputs in key indicators including scholarly publications (research), university rankings (pedagogy and training), and student enrollment (public service) demonstrated how little sway the market appeared to hold. Leaders, though they identified 75% of the factors influencing their institutions as external, also recognized that there is an internal component centered on individuals. These internal influences can be framed as organizational factors, but participants referred to them most often as a manifestation of people sharing a common conviction built through a collegial approach. The core of the concern expressed at the time of this study remains to identify the role of the university in meeting France’s espoused societal values, as shared across all participants.
... Clark wrote as early as 1983 that "the clash of social values in higher education will require considerable adjustments, and the systems most likely to prosper will be those that divide power, support variety, and allow ambiguity" (Clark 1983, 1). One of the main conclusions from this researcher's considerations, which can be applied to understanding today's higher education systems and institutions in Poland, is the weakening of boundaries both within higher education institutions and between them and other social institutions (Brennan 2010). Hence, the social functions performed by higher education institutions may be one of the reasons why the academic authority held and its maintenance, becomes an important challenge coming from outside the university walls (Brennan 2010). ...
... One of the main conclusions from this researcher's considerations, which can be applied to understanding today's higher education systems and institutions in Poland, is the weakening of boundaries both within higher education institutions and between them and other social institutions (Brennan 2010). Hence, the social functions performed by higher education institutions may be one of the reasons why the academic authority held and its maintenance, becomes an important challenge coming from outside the university walls (Brennan 2010). Moreover, among the numerous problems that have been faced by higher education in Poland for years, the following can be mentioned (Kudrycka 2011;Kraśniewski 2006;Wilkin 2013;Pakuła 2015): ...
... In Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), several governance models have been established. One of the well-known frameworks is the Tringle of Coordination by Burton Clark [2]. The framework identifies three primary forces or interest groups that have an impact on the coordination of HEIs, i.e. ...
... The framework describes the evolution of the inter-relationships between the different actors in the HE systems and can be applied to different systems and types of HEIs (e.g. public, private, governmental HEIs -coordinated by state governments) [2]- [4]. ...
Conference Paper
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The higher education institutions in Palestine lag behind their global counterparts on the major university ranking systems. Several studies have highlighted that competent governance systems and accountability practices should be inaugurated in order to retain a decent position across various ranking systems. This research attempts to fill this void. In particular, by taking the UNIGOV Project “Improving Governance Practices at Palestinian Higher Education Institutions” as a case study, this research potentially attempts to explore the main weaknesses in governance systems across five Palestinian universities and proposes innovative mechanisms to improve the academic quality and educational systems as a whole. UNIGOV is an international cooperation project funded by the Erasmus Plus of the European Union (Project #: 573684-EPP-1-2016-1-PS-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP). It seeks to benchmark five European universities’ governance systems (from Italy, Slovenia, Ireland, and Portugal), identify best practices, while facilitating knowledge transfer between Palestinian universities and their European counterparts. Firstly, three university activities have been recognized (i.e. teaching, research, and social responsibility) and four governance dimensions have been identified during the preparation stage of the project (i.e. autonomy, accountability, management techniques, and participation). Secondly, the AHP (Analytical Hierarchy Process) have been utilized to evaluate the weights of these activities across the different dimensions of governance in order to explore the significance of these dimensions on governance systems across Palestinian universities. The research provides a thorough and practical understanding of governance systems in Palestinian universities. The results show that teaching and research are still the dominant activities in Palestinian universities. Although there are weaknesses in all dimensions of governance across the different university activities, the results show that social responsibility activity is given less emphasis across the various dimensions of governance (compared to teaching and research). Finally, the overall results advocate that more strategies and practices should be established in order to strengthen academic autonomy, quality assurance systems, evaluation systems, and disclosure of financial information to the public in order to improve the governance of Higher Education System in Palestine. The project and the results of the analysis can be considered a modest step towards establishing a more competent and resilient Higher Education System in Palestine. Keywords: Governance, Erasmus+, Governance Practices
... In Germany, the institutionalization of a post-Humboldtian system is driven by both the NPM governance of the federal states and the academic oligarchy, 2 which pushes MeVoP on different levels. Brennan (2010) and Pusser (2008) differentiate the disciplinary and the institutional oligarchy, which can coincide as in, for example, distributing competitive research founding via the DFG. However, in the German social partnership (Sozialpartnerschaft) between the state and the academic profession (Schimank, 2005), the institutional academic oligarchy on the national level is represented by the DFG and the Sciences Council, which control the Excellence Strategy MeVoP. ...
In the German higher education (HE) sector, third-party funding plays a prominent role in the valorization of performance of academics and universities. In the last three decades, policies that centered around competitive third-party funding have led to a significant vertical stratification of higher education institutions (HEIs). This paper analyzes the relationship between funding-induced vertical stratification and the evolution toward a post-Humboldtian organization that favors research over teaching. Conceptually, the UK is used as a reference country for analyzing the more recent developments in Germany. Based on data from three successive surveys (Carnegie-1992, CAP-2007, and APIKS-2018), a continuous evolution toward prioritizing research over teaching and a higher administrative workload for German academics over time is observed. We associate this trend with a funding-related dissolution of research and teaching at the individual and organizational level in a methodic toppled T multilevel research design. The analysis shows a clear differentiation between research-oriented, well-funded German HEIs (universities and universities of applied sciences, UAS) at the top of the status hierarchy and more teaching-focused HEIs at the bottom. We also indicate that the higher research preference of academics in high-status HEIs is accompanied by a higher administrative workload but not by more time for research.KeywordsVertical stratificationValorization of performanceThird-party fundingResearch-teaching nexus(Post-)Humboldtian systemHigher education
... In Germany, the institutionalization of a post-Humboldtian system is driven by both the NPM governance of the federal states and the academic oligarchy, 2 which pushes MeVoP on different levels. Brennan (2010) and Pusser (2008) differentiate the disciplinary and the institutional oligarchy, which can coincide as in, for example, distributing competitive research founding via the DFG. However, in the German social partnership (Sozialpartnerschaft) between the state and the academic profession (Schimank, 2005), the institutional academic oligarchy on the national level is represented by the DFG and the Sciences Council, which control the Excellence Strategy MeVoP. ...
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Similar trends have been shaping higher education systems in Europe. First, in modern university, the influence of Humboldtian values as the unity of teaching and research framed the organisation of higher education institutions (HEIs). More recently, under the ideological influence of both the knowledge economy/society and neoliberalism, European systems are compelled to demonstrate the utility of the knowledge produced, while they are making accountable to society, imposing an audit culture. This context leads to a stratification of institutions and academics, where the knowledge produced, usually measured by the number of publications, is an essential feature to determine the most prestigious institutions and academics.At present, the time European academics dedicate to their main roles differs, with some dedicating more time to teaching, while others dedicate more time to research. It is expected that this distinction impacts directly on research outputs. Notwithstanding, personal characteristics, such as gender and seniority, are acknowledged to impact the number of research outputs.This chapter illuminates on the effects of time organisation (time dedicated to teaching and to research) and of academics’ individual characteristics (gender and seniority), on research outputs, placing Portugal in a comparative perspective with other six countries of Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey.Findings confirm that prioritising one of academics’ roles influences research outputs, with relevant variations between academics’ gender and seniority, more than among countries.KeywordsTime organisationAcademics’ trade-offsGenderSeniorityTeaching timeResearch time
... Brief overview of the German higher education and science system In Germany, academics benefit from relatively strong protection against interference by the state in their research and teaching on the basis of the German constitution (Grundgesetz article 5(3)1) and are granted a relatively strong position in higher education and science governance. In the social partnership (Sozialpartnerschaft) between the state and the academic profession (Stichweh, 1994;see also: McClelland, 1990;Schimank, 2005;Scott, 2005), the strong academic oligarchy 1 in positions such as HEI leadership, academic senates, national academic bodies (e.g., German Rectors' Conference and German Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat)), etc. (Brennan, 2010;Pusser, 2008) influences law making and how the law is applied. For example, since 2005 the law on the so-called W-remuneration (Professorenbesoldungsreformgesetz) (Klenke, 2012; Annex 1) enables agreements between HEIs and academics on goals -similar to private corporations (Vormbusch, 2012). ...
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In the weak evaluation state of Germany, full professors are involved in the traditional social governance partnership between the state, and the self-governing higher education institutions (HEI) and disciplinary associations. Literature suggests that formal and informal governance could trigger changes in academics’ publication behavior by valorizing certain publication outputs. In the article, secondary data from three surveys (1992, 2007 and 2018) is used for a multi-level study of the evolution of academics’ publication behavior. We find a trend toward the “model” of natural science publication behavior across all disciplines. On the organizational level, we observe that a strong HEI research performance orientation is positively correlated with journal articles, peer-reviewed publications, and co-publications with international co-authors. HEI performance-based funding is only positively correlated with the share of peer-reviewed publications. At the level of individual disciplines, humanities and social sciences scholars adapt to the peer-reviewed journal publication paradigm of the natural sciences at the expense of book publications. Considering how the academic profession is organized around reputation and status, it seems plausible that the academic profession and its institutional oligarchy are key contexts for the slow but steady change of academics’ publication behavior. The trend of changing academics’ publication behavior is partly related to HEI valorization of performance and (to a lesser extent) to HEI performance based-funding schemes, which are set by the strong academic profession in the weak evaluation state of Germany.
... de Boer ym. 2007;Brennan 2010;Salazar ja Leihy 2013;Suomessa esim. Rekilä 2006;ks. ...
2000-luvun alkuvuosina suomalaisessa korkeakoulupolitiikassa yleistyi näkemys kiireellisestä tarpeesta uudistaa järjestelmää. ”Rakenteelliseksi kehittämiseksi” kutsuttu kokonaisreformi tähtäsi resurssien keskittämiseen, yksiköiden karsimiseen ja yliopistojen profiloitumiseen. Tarkastelemme artikkelissa uuden säätiöyliopistomallin syntyä osana tätä kehitystä ja vuoden 2009 yliopistolakiuudistusta. Tulkintamme mukaan säätiöyliopistojen synnyn mahdollistivat valtion, elinkeinoelämän ja yliopistojen ylimmän johdon intressien kohtaaminen. Säätiöyliopistojen syntyprosessissa nämä kolme toimijaa löysivät toisensa uudella tavalla, minkä seurauksena yliopistodemokratia ja yliopistoyhteisöjen valta-asema Suomessa heikentyivät merkittävästi. Valtion, elinkeinoelämän ja yliopistojen johtoportaiden intressien yhdistyessä voitiin marginalisoida demokraattisesti järjestäytyneet yliopistoyhteisöt ja osittain myös sivuuttaa eduskunnan tavanomainen lainsäädäntötyö. Konjunktuurillisen tapausanalyysimme perusteella säätiömallin ja Aalto-yliopiston synnyssä ilmenee selvimmin korkeakoulupolitiikan 2000-luvun suhdanne ja yliopistokentän valtasuhteiden muutos. Säätiömallissa tiivistyvät pitkän linjan yliopistopolitiikan tavoitteet: päätöksenteon keskittäminen, demokratian suitsiminen, elinkeinoelämän vallan kasvattaminen, yliopistojen suurempi vastuuttaminen omasta taloudestaan ja niiden pääomittaminen perusrahoituksen vahvistamisen sijaan. Eetos käy selväksi monista lakia edeltäneistä puheenvuoroista, Aalto-säätiön perustamisprosessista, alkuperäisestä yliopistolakiesityksestä ja säätiöyliopistomallin myöhemmistä vaiheista.
... Academics' values, beliefs, and attitudes are subject to professional autonomy and control (Freidson, 2001;Parsons, 1968), but are also influenced by academia's oligarchic structures and managerial practices (Brennan, 2010;Pusser, 2008). According to Clark (1983, 122), the academic oligarchy comprises ''the imperialistic thrust of modes of authority […] in the way that personal and collegial forms, rooted in the disciplinary bottom of a system, work their way upward to have an important effect on enterprise and then finally system levels.'' ...
Political discourse and policy reforms worldwide have highlighted the importance of promoting the knowledge economy by stimulating academics’ societal engagement (ASE). Such narratives partly aim at influencing academics’ attitudes and behaviors. Earlier work that has investigated such influence has tended to overlook the development in humanities and social science, and focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. This paper contributes to filling this gap. Based on the assumption that academics’ views are, to a significant extent, shaped during their early years in academia, we investigate whether there are generational differences in attitudes to ASE. Four different higher education systems, including both Napoleonic and Humboldtian models, are investigated: Germany, Sweden, Portugal, and Argentina. Our analysis of the results of the international Academic Profession in the Knowledge Society survey reveals marked country-level differences in the way academics perceive the importance of ASE activities. Overall, there is no strong evidence that the current generation of HSS academics has very different attitudes to ASE than previous generations. We do, however, find indications that post-2006 academics are more likely to consider ASE activities from an instrumental perspective.
For several decades, higher education systems have undergone continuous waves of reform, driven by a combination of concerns about the changing labour needs of the economy, competition within the global-knowledge economy, and nationally competitive positioning strategies to enhance the performance of higher education systems. Yet, despite far-ranging international pressures, including the emergence of an international higher education market, enormous growth in cross-border student mobility, and pressures to achieve universities of world class standing, boost research productivity and impact, and compete in global league tables, the suites of policy, policy designs and sector outcomes continue to be marked as much by hybridity as they are of similarity or convergence. This volume explores these complex governance outcomes from a theoretical and empirical comparative perspective, addressing those vectors precipitating change in the modalities and instruments of governance, and how they interface at the systemic and institutional levels, and across geographic regions.