Universities and the regulatory framework: The austrian university system in transition

Social Epistemology 20 (3 & 4):241 – 258 (2006)
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Abstract

This article uses recent changes within the Austrian university system to illustrate some general features and dilemmas of organizational design and reform. We focus upon two recent layers of the sediments left by previous and current system reforms: that left by the events of 1968 on continental university systems, and Austria's late conversion to the path taken by the Anglo-American university system since the late 1970s/early 1980s; namely, towards what Marginson and Considine (2000) have called the "enterprise university". These two reform waves are, we argue, neatly reflected in two university laws - UOG 1975 and UG 2002 - which capture with great clarity the spirit of these two policy moments. The Austrian case is thus of interest for two types of reason: first, because of the co-existence of deeply engrained traditions with more recent experiments in organizational democracy (co-determination); secondly, because of the rapidity with which current reforms seek to catch up with what are taken to be international developments in university management. Drawing on arguments advanced by Christopher Hood, Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello, and by Albert Hirschman, we seek to draw general conclusions concerning the implications of organizational reform for the management of organizations generally, and of universities in particular.

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