22 SES 06 B, Governance and Reform of Higher Education
Background of the Research
Higher education has faced great challenges due to increasing globalization and competition (Fullan & Scott, 2009; Mahrman, Ma & Baker, 2008; McLendon, 2003). The President of higher education institutions need to handle a lot of challenging tasks, including university finance, academic performance, faculty recruitment, student development, social responsibilities, public relationships, etc. The internal and external governance of higher education depend on the leadership of university President. This is by no means an easy job(Bowen & tobin, 2015; Cohen & James, 1974; Talburt, 2005).
In January 2018, National Taiwan University (NTU), the best university in Taiwan, selected its 12th President Dr. .Chung-Ming Kuan. However, Dr. Kuan was not able to get the approval from the Ministry of Education till the end of 2018. National Taiwan University, the best top-ranked university in Taiwan, had no President to lead the institution for 354 days. The long struggle has shown that the choice of college president is not only a professional decision. It is also a political decision, a dimension that has been neglected by higher education research.
Japan also encounters similar issue. Japan’s universities have a long tradition of bottom-up management. However, due to the corporatization of Japan’s universities and the fierce global competition, top-down management has gradually become the main theme of higher education governance. Because of this, the role of college presidents in higher education governance has become more important. We would like to pursue a comparative study on the selection of college president and its impact on the internal governance. We also would like to present this paper in ECER to get more perspectives and feedback from other European countries so that we can have a broader view on the selection of college presidents.
This paper wants to address the following research questions:
- How are top-ranked university presidents selected in Taiwan and Japan? What are the rationales behind the selection process?
- What are the internal governing structures in Taiwan’s and Japan’s top-ranked higher education institutions? What are the roles of university presidents as well as his/her top management team in higher education governance?
- How has the selection of university president affect the internal governing structure and power distribution in colleges and universities?
- How has the university internal governance affected higher education development in Taiwan and Japan?
Political institutionalism (Kaplan, 2006) is chosen for addressing the research questions for the following reasons. Higher education is a political arena(Baldridge, 1971). Self-interested individuals interact with institutional environments. The governing structure of the institutions constrains individual (including the committee for president selection, the president, and the faculty members, etc.) actions.
Two types of decisions need to be analyzed when studying governance. The first is the structures, rules, and hierarchies of the institution and its external environment. The second is the operational decision inside the institutions. Political institutionalism can be used to explain the outcome of higher education institution. According political institutionalism, academic performance or university social responsibilities can be destroyed by the political dimension of internal and external governance (Kaplan, 2006).
Kaplan’s political institutionalism describes the external market and political environment of the institutions. It also describes the economic conditions of higher education institutions (such as institutional characteristics or modes of privatization) and management structures (such as the distribution of power, decision process, regulations, and coordination of values). Political institutionalism uses the above-mentioned external and internal frameworks to explain the policy outcomes (such as personnel decision, budget allocation, resources distribution, curriculum, etc.) of higher education governance (see Kaplan, 2006). In terms of higher education policy outcomes, I shall focus on institution reputations, faculty recruitment, resource allocation, and research priorities.
Methodology Because this is a comparative study between Japan and Taiwan, case study is chosen as the research approach. In both Taiwan and Japan, three top-ranked universities will be chosen respectively for in-depth study. Documents of universities in two countries (such as laws, regulations, and evaluation reports, etc.) related to the selection of university President will be analyzed. In addition, semi-structured interviews will be conducted on key informants who can provide information on the selection of university Presidents and its impact on internal governance and the outcome of higher education. These key informants may include university top leadership team, deans of colleges, faculty members, and members in the president selection committee. It is expected that 5-10 people from each university will be interviewed. In addition, we will also interview key informants from the Ministry of Education in two countries to obtain information on the external environments of higher education. The Taiwanese and Japanese research team will meet in February to compare preliminary findings. Then we will proceed to interviews and compare findings by the end of spring. Findings will be compared and synthesized to answer the research questions. Taiwan and Japan will share the same interview questions. Each country can add more interview questions if needed. All the interviews will be transcribed and analyzed by the respective team. Both teams will develop common analytic framework from comparison.
Expected outcomes or findings We look forwarded to presenting our findings in ECER to get feedback from European perspectives. The expected contributions of the paper are as follows. 1. Provide research findings on the political dimensions of higher education governance. 2. Explain the impact of the higher education internal and external environments and structures on individuals and agencies in the institutions. 3. Describe how internal and external structures shape higher education outcomes. 4. Provide concrete suggestions on the selection of university Presidents. 5. Provide concrete suggestions on the internal and external governance of universities. Higher education is facing great challenges due to globalization, marketization, reducing birth rates, and greater expectations from the society. To improve the conditions of higher education while maintaining its spirit, researchers in higher education need to work together to improve the conditions of higher education. This comparative study is a preliminary study. In the future, we look forward to invite more countries to join the comparative project on higher education governance.
Baldridge, J. V. (1971). Power and Conflict in the University. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Bowen, W. G. Tobin, E. M. (2015). Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education, New York: Princeton University Press. Cohen, M. D., & James, G. M. (1974). Leadership and Ambiguity: The American College President. New York: McGraw-Hill. Fullan, M. & Scott, G. (2009). Turnaround Leadership for Higher Education, CA: San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Kaplan, G. E. (2006). Institutions of Academic Governance and Institutional Theory: A Framework for Future Research, in J.C. Smart (ed.) Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, 21, 213-281. McLendon, M.K.(2003). The Politics of Higher Education: Toward an Expanded Research Agenda, Education policy, 17(1): 165-191. Mohrman, K. Ma, W., & Baker, D. (2008). The Research University in Transition: The Emerging Global Model. Higher Education Policy, 21(1), 5-27. Talburt, S. (2005). Ideas of a University, Faculty Governance, and Governmentality, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, 20: 459-505.
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