J. Huisman - Organisational diversity in higher education
Organisational diversity in HE:what do we know and what do we still want to know? Jeroen Huisman
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
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?
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)
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
Diversity in European HE Austria, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK Which HE system is most diverse?
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
Diversity in European HEPuzzle(s):Large systems not by definition diverse?Binary systems more diverse?Geography: low versus high density?Governments or markets?
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)
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”
TheoryPopulation ecology Concepts: Populations, organisational form, resources, legitimacy Empirical studies: birth and death rates, population growth Problems: actually not touching upon diversity
Theory“new” institutionalism Concepts: legitimacy, isomorphism, myth and ceremony Empirical studies: longitudinal studies Problems: weaknesses in measurement (but see Gioia & Thomas, 1996)
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)
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.