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University GovernanceNorway: From Tortoise to Eager Beaver?

University Governance: Norway: From Tortoise to Eager Beaver? [Previous analyses of Norwegian higher education reforms and their effects on the higher education system have depicted Norway as a slow reformer characterised by localism and incrementalism that makes planned reforms difficult (Bleiklie, 2004; Bleiklie et al., 2000; Kogan et al., 2006). However, with the latest reform, implemented from 2003 on, there are clear signs that policy change is picking up speed and that Norway as a higher education policy maker is in the process of transforming itself into an eager and rapid implementer of comprehensive reforms. It is still early to make a final judgement because of the comprehensiveness and complexity of the latest reform. There are at least three perspectives that may help formulate expectations and possible explanations of the pace and direction of current policies. The first is the institutionalist interpretation according to which policy change tends to be path dependent and slow since new reforms, particularly those that aim at radical changes, need time to be adapted to existing norms, habits and conceptions about appropriateness. This expectation is strengthened when we are looking at the challenges facing reforms aiming at integrating and standardizing a diversified higher education system. Theoretically this institutionalist perspective of policy change tends to portray it as a gradual, incremental affair that may become abrupt only if circumstances create a situation in which existing policies are considered inadequate to sustain institutionalized systems of values, norms and practices in a given policy field (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993; March et al., 1989). The alternative is an actor's perspective where policies are regarded as the product of the actions of major players such as policy makers and affected groups where policies are understood in terms of the preferences of the actors involved in the decision process (Ostrom, 1990; Scharpf, 1997; Tsebelis, 1999). In such a case, the degree and pace of change depend on the aims of the actors and may be explained either by changing values and aims among actors or changes in the constellation of actors involved. A third perspective is based on the functionalist assumption that structural change tends to be based on evolving needs generated by developing pressures on social systems that e.g. cause them to grow, differentiate, and develop procedures to manage growth and differentiation. According to this perspective, change depends on external pressures and how social systems respond to them in order to remain stable (Ben-David , 1968, 1971, 1991; Parsons and Platt, 1973). The specific organizational forms of concrete universities depend on how society's need for cultural functions is expressed.] http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

University GovernanceNorway: From Tortoise to Eager Beaver?

Part of the Higher Education Dynamics Book Series (volume 25)
Editors: Paradeise, Catherine; Reale, Emanuela; Bleiklie, Ivar; Ferlie, Ewan
University Governance — Jan 1, 2009

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
© Springer Netherlands 2009
ISBN
978-1-4020-8637-3
Pages
127 –152
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4020-9515-3_6
Publisher site
See Chapter on Publisher Site

Abstract

[Previous analyses of Norwegian higher education reforms and their effects on the higher education system have depicted Norway as a slow reformer characterised by localism and incrementalism that makes planned reforms difficult (Bleiklie, 2004; Bleiklie et al., 2000; Kogan et al., 2006). However, with the latest reform, implemented from 2003 on, there are clear signs that policy change is picking up speed and that Norway as a higher education policy maker is in the process of transforming itself into an eager and rapid implementer of comprehensive reforms. It is still early to make a final judgement because of the comprehensiveness and complexity of the latest reform. There are at least three perspectives that may help formulate expectations and possible explanations of the pace and direction of current policies. The first is the institutionalist interpretation according to which policy change tends to be path dependent and slow since new reforms, particularly those that aim at radical changes, need time to be adapted to existing norms, habits and conceptions about appropriateness. This expectation is strengthened when we are looking at the challenges facing reforms aiming at integrating and standardizing a diversified higher education system. Theoretically this institutionalist perspective of policy change tends to portray it as a gradual, incremental affair that may become abrupt only if circumstances create a situation in which existing policies are considered inadequate to sustain institutionalized systems of values, norms and practices in a given policy field (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993; March et al., 1989). The alternative is an actor's perspective where policies are regarded as the product of the actions of major players such as policy makers and affected groups where policies are understood in terms of the preferences of the actors involved in the decision process (Ostrom, 1990; Scharpf, 1997; Tsebelis, 1999). In such a case, the degree and pace of change depend on the aims of the actors and may be explained either by changing values and aims among actors or changes in the constellation of actors involved. A third perspective is based on the functionalist assumption that structural change tends to be based on evolving needs generated by developing pressures on social systems that e.g. cause them to grow, differentiate, and develop procedures to manage growth and differentiation. According to this perspective, change depends on external pressures and how social systems respond to them in order to remain stable (Ben-David , 1968, 1971, 1991; Parsons and Platt, 1973). The specific organizational forms of concrete universities depend on how society's need for cultural functions is expressed.]

Published: Jan 1, 2009

Keywords: High Education; High Education Institution; Academic Staff; High Education System; Graduate Education

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