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Facing intense global competition and pressure from public authorities, several universities in Europe have engaged in merger and concentration processes. Drawing on two…
Facing intense global competition and pressure from public authorities, several universities in Europe have engaged in merger and concentration processes. Drawing on two in-depth case studies, this paper considers university mergers as an opportunity to explore the processes involved in the creation of a new organizational structure. In line with recent scholarly calls to revisit the notion of organizational design, we combine insights from three different research streams to address the functional, political, and institutional dynamics that shaped the organizational architecture of the merged universities. Two main results are presented and discussed. First, although these mergers were initiated largely in response to the diffusion of new global institutional scripts, these scripts had little influence on organizational design: deeply institutionalized local scripts prevailed over global mimetic pressures. Second, while these institutional scripts provided many of the basic building blocks of the new universities, in both cases their design was also heavily shaped by time pressures and power games. While a few powerful actors used the merger as an opportunity to promote their own reform agenda, some of the key features of the two merged universities stemmed from choices by exclusion, whose primary aim was the avoidance of conflicts.
Is the aim of the university to prepare citizens to contribute to civic and social life as well as to travel flexibly and successfully through a rapidly changing work…
Is the aim of the university to prepare citizens to contribute to civic and social life as well as to travel flexibly and successfully through a rapidly changing work world? Or is the purpose of higher education more narrowly to advance students’ individual economic interests as they understand them? Should we think of students as citizens or consumers? Many analysts argue that, in recent years, the notion that higher education should serve to advance students’ individual economic position has increasingly taken prominence over broader notions of the purpose of American higher education. In this paper, we examine whether and to what extent a shift from considering students-as-citizens to students-as-consumers has occurred in US higher education. We provide a longitudinal analysis of two separate and theoretically distinct discourse communities (Berg, 2003): higher education trustees and leaders of and advocates for liberal arts education. Our data suggest a highly unsettled field in which commercial discourse as measured by the student-as-consumer code has surely entered the US higher education lexicon, but this code is not uncontested and the more traditional citizenship code remains significant and viable.