A Relationship in Crisis
Edited by Luigi Burroni, Maarten Keune and Guglielmo Meardi
Chapter 5: Academia’s Place in European Capitalist Systems and the Conservative Reform Movement
Simcha Jong INTRODUCTION Universities play a critical role in cultivating social-political elites, in educating members of various modern professions, and in forming society’s technological knowledge base. Moreover, academic scholarship at universities shapes cultural debates as well as political, social, and esthetic categories. As a result, the way institutional systems of higher learning are set up has fundamental implications for the organization of capitalist systems, touching on many of the critical institutional outcomes scholarly debates in the political economy literature have been concerned with. For example, institutions of higher learning shape the competencies, and skills that workers across a wide range of sectors have at their disposal, provide support for innovation in critical sectors of the economy, and affect the organization of labor markets for professionals. Yet, scholars in the political economy literature have to date shown little interest in examining how the national frameworks governing these institutions affect the capitalist enterprise beyond their role in vocational training (Boyer and Hollingsworth 1997, Crouch and Streeck 1997, Hall and Soskice 2001). The exclusive focus on traditional industrial organization and financial institutions in this literature seems out of place in today’s knowledge-based economies. Firms increasingly rely for a comparative competitive advantage on universities, in particular in knowledge-intensive sectors such as information technology, life sciences, and clean energy. Universities’ role in economic life entails both direct contributions to R&D as well as the education of knowledge workers. In addition, universities are gradually overtaking schools of vocational training as the institutions on which the...
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