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Conceptual Framework and Empirical Evidence of Public Value: The Case of the Italian Higher Education Sector

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting

ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7, eISBN: 978-1-78441-010-0

Publication date: 11 November 2014



To understand whether the public value approach will improve the performance and legitimacy of Italian universities.


The public value approach is used to identify the factors limiting the improvement of the performance of Italian universities over the period 2007–2009. Four cases are analyzed in order to reveal how universities measure and communicate the public value delivered. The evolution of the whole system is analysed in the light of the three paradigms on public administration: traditional public administration, new public management and public value management.


Recent reforms introduced by the Italian government do not facilitate the overcoming of political and organizational constraints, with the exception of a few noteworthy elements. The dominant role of the Ministry of Education in the definition of universities’ strategic goals combined with the great autonomy traditionally granted to the departments and to single academics leave little room for manoeuvre.

Social implications

The case of the Italian higher education system highlights the importance of the rules of governance for public value production. The analysis shows that the actual governance of the higher education institutions does not favour the construction of a public value proposition by the universities’ managers. This aspect raises the more general question of identifying the necessary conditions for realizing the public value proposition and determining its presence in all public administrations.


This article contributes to the understanding of mechanisms that hinder the capability of public institutions’ to develop their own public value proposition.



Modugno, G., Curiel, G. and Ventin, G. (2014), "Conceptual Framework and Empirical Evidence of Public Value: The Case of the Italian Higher Education Sector", Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting (Studies in Public and Non-Profit Governance, Vol. 3), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 189-224.



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