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Autonomy in public higher education: a case study of stakeholder perspectives and socio-cultural context

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Title: Autonomy in public higher education: a case study of stakeholder perspectives and socio-cultural context
Authors: Taira, Joanne Y.
Issue Date: 2004
Abstract: Tension between a university's autonomy and its responsibility to the public is a recurring theme in public higher education. While academic freedom has been widely defined, institutional autonomy, whether in substantive matters of program and mission or administrative matters of budget and personnel, has been less clearly understood. Notions of institutional autonomy, however, create a setting within which public policy discussions and decisions occur. In today's changing environment, as public resources have decreased, higher education has been linked to entrepreneurial activities and states' economic development. Demands for accountability have grown and increasingly stakeholders from outside the campus have become involved in higher education policy. Although the literature has addressed these conditions, less is known about how stakeholders in this environment shape institutional autonomy and mold the state-public university relationship. In order to identify factors, this study focuses on the perceptions of autonomy among internal and external stakeholders in the public higher education environment, examines similarities and differences, and explores the role of these perceptions on public higher education discussions. This single-state case study of Hawai'i utilizes data from twenty interviews conducted with those who work within the public university system and outside, mostly in state government. Resource dependence and institutional theories provide useful conceptual frameworks for the study. Findings show that both those within the university and the state perceive that autonomy refers to administrative, particularly budget, matters and that substantive issues, such as program decisions, are the realm of the campus. Notwithstanding this similarity, differences in perception between the groups produce divergent expectations of higher education. As expected from resource dependence theory, the university, faced with diminishing state resources in the late 1990s, looked increasingly toward extramural funding. Tensions are evident in how this is perceived to affect autonomy and higher education's responsiveness to state priorities. The study also confirms the understanding that, while resources and technical efficiency are part of an institution's operating rationale, stakeholders have additional social expectations of universities. The far-reaching implication is that these institutionalized expectations exert strong claims on a public university as it seeks to extend its legitimacy and effectiveness.
Description: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2004.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 127-141).
Electronic reproduction.
Also available by subscription via World Wide Web
show 1 morexi, 141 leaves, bound ill. 29 cm
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Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Education

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