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The Network Paradigm in Higher Education

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research

ISBN: 978-1-78743-223-9, eISBN: 978-1-78743-222-2

Publication date: 21 August 2017


The goal of this chapter is to introduce the network paradigm for analyzing relational phenomena and organizing knowledge in higher education research. This introduction is presented by example: it analyzes knowledge on inter-organizational relationships of higher education institutions. The formation, maintenance, and impact of relationships are implicitly relational, although they have largely been understood as a consequence of institutional practices. Through the network paradigm, we show that focusing on relations we can develop new and more precise models to understand the antecedents, consequences, and characteristics of these networks.




The authors thank the editors, as well as the members of the Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent, for their critical comments that helped improve this chapter. This work is supported from funding by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), grant number G.OC42.


Birkholz, J.M. and Shields, R. (2017), "The Network Paradigm in Higher Education", Theory and Method in Higher Education Research (Theory and Method in Higher Education Research, Vol. 3), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 215-226.



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