J. Huisman - Organisational diversity in higher education


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HEIK academic seminar Oslo November 2012

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J. Huisman - Organisational diversity in higher education

  1. 1. Organisational diversity in HE:what do we know and what do we still want to know? Jeroen Huisman
  2. 2. Organisational diversity The policy “problem” What is diversity and how to measure it Theoretical explanations of diversity: isomorphism, academic and vocational drift, niche-seeking behaviour, positioning
  3. 3. Organisational diversityPractical and HE policy concern How to maintain or increase diversity? Assumption: diversity is an inherent good Examples: Finland, Austria, US, EU … Norway (Stjernö committee 2008) Diversity: a policy and/or steering problem?
  4. 4. Steering organisational diversityLiterature 1960s – 1980s: Academic drift (Jenck & Riesman, 1968; Neave, 1979) Political realities (Teichler, 1988, 2007)Later insights: markets versus governments, markets AND governments Meek et al., (1998), Mockers and mocked Special issue HEP (2000)
  5. 5. Steering organisational diversityMarkets stimulate diversity, for HEIs will look for market niches. At the same time, markets may implicitly invite followers to copy “successful” leadersGovernments inhibit diversity, for they set limits to creative behavior. At the same time, they may be a “necessary evil” to prevent HEIs from going where they should not go …Hmmm, a bit of both then?
  6. 6. What is diversity and how to measure it?Birnbaum (1983):- Systemic diversity- Structural diversity- Programmatic diversity- Procedural diversity- Reputational diversity- Constituent diversity- Value and climates diversity
  7. 7. Diversity is elusive ...?1) A HEI differs from any other HEI, soa system is as diverse as its number ofHEIs .....2) There are certain deeply-engrainedcore elements of the HE fabric thatallow for measurement and comparison
  8. 8. Birnbaum (1983)Variables:Control (four values)Size (three values)Sex of students (two values)Programme (four values)Degree level (four values)Minority enrolment (two values)Empirical results1960: 141 types1980: 138 typesDespite growth in system, no increase in diversity
  9. 9. What is diversity? Bearing on biology and ecology Diversity: the variety of types and/or dispersion of entities across those types Intuitive example: 2 As, 2Bs, 1 C, 1 D, 1 E is more diverse than 3 As and 4 Bs
  10. 10. Measuring diversityA relatively simple approach:- Which features are distinctive and crucial/meaningful?- Measure the features- Use statistical techniques (diversity indices, Gini index, etc.) to show similarities and differences
  11. 11. Example: cluster analysis Similarity index 100 80 60 40 20 0Amsterdam (UVA)UtrechtLeidenGroningenNijmegenAmsterdam (VU)LimburgTilburgRotterdamTwente Techn.Eindhoven Techn.Delft Techn.Wageningen Agric.
  12. 12. Classification projects• The Carnegie Classification in the USA• European mapping exercise(s), see Van Vught’s U-MAP• Huisman et al. (2007), Higher Education Quarterly
  13. 13. Diversity in European HE Austria, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK Which HE system is most diverse?
  14. 14. Diversity in European HERank order (based on two diversity indices, 1997/98 data):1 UK/Norway 7 Austria3 Flanders 8 Sweden4 The Netherlands 9 France6 Finland 10 Denmark6 Germany
  15. 15. Diversity in European HEPuzzle(s):Large systems not by definition diverse?Binary systems more diverse?Geography: low versus high density?Governments or markets?
  16. 16. The big measurement problem: What you want, is what you get … Researchers’ decisions decide how different HEIs are … But, helpful for analysis across countries and for one country over time (Huisman et al., 2007, Australia and the Netherlands)
  17. 17. TheoryThe most helpful approaches: population ecology (Hannan & Freeman, 1977; 1989) “new” institutional theory (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Scott, 2008) Positioning and strategy theory (Mintzberg, Porter) combined with “bringing the agent back in”
  18. 18. TheoryPopulation ecology Concepts: Populations, organisational form, resources, legitimacy Empirical studies: birth and death rates, population growth Problems: actually not touching upon diversity
  19. 19. Theory“new” institutionalism Concepts: legitimacy, isomorphism, myth and ceremony Empirical studies: longitudinal studies Problems: weaknesses in measurement (but see Gioia & Thomas, 1996)
  20. 20. Theory Strategy and landscape: how individual HEIs move around in HE landscapes (thus: markets, governments AND agents) Strategy and sensemaking: strategy-as- practice (Jarzabkowski, Weick). Positioning and strategy in HE (Frolich et al., Higher Education, in press; Fumasoli & Huisman, Minerva, in press)
  21. 21. Theory Empirical work: Swiss higher education (Lepori et al., Studies in Higher Education, in press), more “sophisticated” measurement, blending/segregating Future work: European systems of HE, EUMIDA data, with Lepori, Seeber, Frolich, and others.
  22. 22. Thank you!j.huisman@bath.ac.uk