In light of the growing marketization of higher education and the shift towards corporate-pluralist steering, stakeholders are becoming increasingly important for higher education governance. This chapter specifically focuses on stakeholder organizations and their role in politics and policy of higher education. It discusses basic characteristics of stakeholder organizations and offers two conceptualizations: (1) stakeholder organizations as interest groups involved in particular in agenda-setting and policy formation; and (2) stakeholder organizations as epistemic communities conducive of policy learning that can facilitate implementation. Based on general social science insights from organizational sociology, comparative politics and policy analysis, as well as on recent higher education literature, the chapter presents specific aspects of stakeholder organizations that should be in the focus of further research. This includes their membership characteristics, their legitimacy, position in the policy arena, relationship with other stakeholder organizations at the same or other governance levels, and the extent to which they facilitate policy learning across governance levels.
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