Institutional Financial Autonomy in Practice: A Departmental Perspective

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The article reveals how university autonomy may in practice prove to be restrictive for units within the university. The need to implement and interpret external regulations and protect the institution may, argued in the paper, lead to a risk averse, conservative approach which is experienced by departments as bureaucratic and hampering effective research. Thus autonomy has produced new internal tensions between the central management/administration and the departments which it is argued is counter-productive and not beneficial for research and could be seen as a perverse aspect of greater autonomy. Indeed because university policy and ‘interference’ is much closer to the researcher than in former less autonomous times and the university may now exercise other direct incentives through resource allocation, promotion and salary enhancement, the department and the individual may view autonomy as a mixed blessing. Future research is needed to explore the extent to which highly successful research units may exploit their situation in an autonomous institution and bring pressure to bear which changes institutional policy and to what extent good governance checks and balance can limit or restrain such developments. Further case studies on the interface between the university and academic units and the way in which the two interact and change each other would make a valuable contribution to an understanding of the power relations operating in autonomous universities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication(Re)Discovering University Autonomy : The Global Market Paradox of Stakeholder and Educational Values in Higher Education
EditorsRomeo V. Turcan, John E. Reilly, Larisa Bugaian
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationNew York City
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-55212-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-38872-8
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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