Government dilemmas in the Spanish universities: Autonomy, structure, participation and desconcentration

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Abstract

The present paper aims at analyzing those challenges that public Spanish universities face nowadays. Hence, we will deal with the concept of «dilemma in governance» as used by Larsen et ál. (2009) as well as by Lazerson (2010). The present paper breaks down into four: dilemma between representative democracy and organizational effectiveness, dilemma between integrated management structures and dual management structures; dilemma between external and internal influence in institutional decision making; dilemma between centralization and decentralization in more autonomous universities. The research has been conducted by means of qualitative methods: survey and focus-group. The survey has targeted 23 respondents, selected from four public Spanish universities, made up of: university managers; governmental and higher educational management experts; administrative personnel and counselors. After this phase, a focus-group with experts was conducted. The results obtained show that experts prefer autonomy of regulations and less control from the state representatives. Moreover, the model applies taking into account the fact that didactic activity temporarily implies counseling and managerial tasks which may create confusion between the two organizational focuses. The didactic activity that nowadays carries out managerial functions views the current model as the most appropriate to higher educational Spanish system and, despite several drawbacks in the model, it is still observed by representatives. Finally the results show that representatives of the centralized bodies are reluctant to share and disseminate power among peripheral organizational structures such as departments and faculties for whom autonomy is still debatable. Summarizing we can consider that the four dilemmas reflect the current challenges that Spanish universities have to face.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-183
JournalRevista de Educacion
Volume355
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Governance
  • Higher education management
  • University
  • University structures

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