Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education

Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education

A Changing Landscape

Edited by Andrea Bonaccorsi

For the first time, data on individual European higher education institutions (rather than data aggregated at the country level) is used in order to examine a wide range of issues that are both theoretically challenging and relevant from policy-making and societal perspectives. The contributors integrate statistics on universities and colleges with other sources of information such as patents, start-up firms and bibliometric data, and employ rigorous empirical methods to address a range of key questions, including: what is the role of non-university tertiary education, such as vocational training? How important is the private sector? Are European universities internationalized? Are they efficient from the point of view of costs and educational output? Are there pure research universities in Europe? How do universities contribute to economic growth?

Chapter 10: Scale and research specialization in European universities: a directional distance approach to teaching efficiency

Andrea Bonaccorsi, Cinzia Daraio and Léopold Simar

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, economics and finance, economics of education, economics of innovation, education, economics of education, management and universities, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


On the basis of the first comparative study on European universities based on quantitative data, developed within the AQUAMETH project, Bonaccorsi and Daraio (2007) discussed the notion of university strategy as an emergent pattern of configuration of university outputs that (at least partially) depend on (relatively) autonomous decision-making by universities, supported by appropriate inputs. The notion of strategy clearly implies recognizable differences among universities. These differences depend, on one hand, on institutional configurations at country level (for example, level of massification of higher education; dual vs unitary systems; level of financial and administrative autonomy; recruitment and promotion systems; role of the private sector, and the like), but also on individual positioning that capitalizes on university-specific resources, namely their human capital. The proposition was that strategic subjectivity of universities, in a world where students' mobility is becoming a reality and emergent countries create universities at a fast pace, will become more and more important. The larger the turbulence of the environment, the more stringent becomes the need for universities to leverage on their strategic profile. A vivid description of what it may mean for global universities is offered by Wildavsky (2010). In this chapter we take a further step in the articulation of the notion of university strategy. It is essential to this notion that decisions about the offering profile or decisions in the space of outputs depend on constraints on the inputs.

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