Enders: New modes of Governance for Research and Education

Jürgen Enders

Innovation has become an important theme in recent higher education and research debates, as marked by the Lisbon strategy and the Bologna declaration. There are two debates intertwined here. On the one hand, the debate on shifts in governance that emphasise their multi-level and multi-actor characteristics and their impact on the transformation of higher education systems (the innovation of governance). Traditional ways of governing society, politics and economy are changing, sometimes referred to as the shift from government to governance as well as shifts in governance. In this context, early notions of planning, steering, and implementation in the narrow sense have developed into a framework that conceptualises policy processes from a multi-level and multi-actor perspective. In a different genealogy, it is build as well on the discovery of principle modes of coordinating social actions, or basic forms of social order within the unholy trinity of ‘hierarchies, markets, and networks’. On the other, hand the debate surrounding the crucial role that higher education institutions play in the developing knowledge economy (the governance of innovation). In this context, the so-called ‘European knowledge paradox’ is set on the agenda, which refers to the proven high quality of research in combination with a low degree or speed of knowledge dissemination and up-take. This calls for political intervention towards the construction of a different innovation strategy that is no longer based on the traditions of the industrial age. This means among other things that the ‘sectoralisation’ within R&D in its traditional meaning is put into question.

Both debates share a focus on innovation and governance. They raise the issue which systems of governance are suitable for higher education systems and institutions that are able to deal with far-reaching social and economic developments in order to contribute to scientific, technological, social and cultural innovations. The challenges identified all point to a changing role of higher education and putting universities and other higher education institutions in a central position. It seems thus timely to address the implications and challenges of these developments for the European higher education and research landscape. There are numerous interrelated issues about the conditions, processes and possible outcomes that call for further attention such as


the multi-level governance of higher education and research between the European, the national and the regional level. The traditional role of higher education within the national research systems differs remarkable across Europe partly due to historical conceptualisations of the university, example given the Humboldtian and the Napoleonic approach. The same seems to hold true for the role of universities to the innovation system. There has been ample debate that respective policies were mainly handled at the national level and are even undergoing a decentralisation process which puts the regional level more in the forefront. At the same time, European higher education policies seem to favour a certain de-nationalisation and regionalisation;


the diversification of funding and concentration of resources. As has been argued in this paper before, one way to induce change in the way academic research is organised and funded across the higher education sector and other national research institutions concerns the funding mechanisms. Performance-based block funding, separation of funding for research and teaching, concentration of resources and growing competition for resources in review based systems are examples;


the bundling and unbundling of the teaching-research nexus and the basic-applied nexus in higher education and research. Policy instruments, like funding or organisation, increasingly tend to stimulate a re-organisation of the relationship between teaching and research as well as between basic and applied or strategic research in universities and other higher education institutions. We may identify some overarching policy goals in these areas across Europe. Their impact on the diverse picture of respective conceptualisations in national systems and related outcomes of political intervention may, however, be far from unified;


the horizontal and vertical differentiation of universities and other higher education institutions. Higher education and research policies increasingly emphasise a greater diversity within the national and European landscape of higher education. Horizontal differentiation is supposed to create greater diversity in the division of work between sub-sectors and organisations within the system, example given in terms of the mix or separation of teaching and research, fields of study and research, orientation towards the international, national or regional market etc. Vertical differentiation is supposed to create greater diversity or to make diversity more visible in terms of quality and reputation of sub-sectors and organisations, last but not least, in order to identify the ‘centers of excellence and relevance’ across Europe.

These developments can be interpreted as consequences of a loss of trust into a certain ‘social contract’ between higher education and society as well as between science and society that dominated the situation in the post world-war era. In the new era accountability and price as coordination mechanisms gain in importance. They reflect an overall move from ‘input legitimacy’ to ‘output legitimacy’ of public policies for higher education and science. This goes along with a growing complexity of relevant actors and forces in the coordination of higher education and research: changes in government-university relationships; the transfer of authority, responsibility, and accountability upwards (inter-, trans-nationalisation), to the side (de-regulation, privatisation) and downwards (decentralisation, localisation); changes in internal governance and management systems; and, last but not least, blurring boundaries between universities and external interests of employers, industry, or service partners.