Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education
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Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education

Edited by Roger King, Simon Marginson and Rajani Naidoo

Higher education has entered centre-stage in the context of the knowledge economy and has been deployed in the search for economic competitiveness and social development. Against this backdrop, this highly illuminating Handbook explores worldwide convergences and divergences in national higher education systems resulting from increased global co-operation and competition.
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Chapter 26: Convergences and Divergences in Steering Higher Education Systems

Christine Musselin


Christine Musselin INTRODUCTION We could discuss at length whether higher education systems and the ways they are steered are converging or not. On the one hand, world polity theorists like Meyer (Drori et al., 2006) or Ramirez (Ramirez, 2006) would stress that the diffusion and worldwide adoption of scripts such as ‘a common logic of mass education suggesting [universities] become broadly inclusive, socially useful and flexible organizations’ (ibid., p. 225) clearly show that isomorphism processes play a driving role in the sector. On the other hand, most of the many comparative books dealing with the transformation of higher education (e.g., among many others, Gornitzka et al., 2005; Kehm and Lanzendorf, 2006; Paradeise et al., 2009), while stressing in their introduction or in their conclusion that countries are experiencing common evolutions, are never structured around these common points but are organized around ‘national chapters’ in which each of the authors starts describing the national landscape, the specific problems and the related policies that have been adopted in the country under study. Schwarz and Westerheijden (2004), for example, provide a wonderful example of the general development of evaluation/ accreditation/assessment devices in the 20 countries they cover, but each and every chapter shows how differently each country understood these notions, created its own institutional responses and developed its own way. Above all, the levels of analysis are the best explanation for these divergent visions of current governance processes in higher education. Convergences are generally stressed by authors interested in discourses and political orientations...

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