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Institutions and globalisation : the challenge of quality assurance in Italian higher education

(2019)
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Promoter
(UGent) , (UGent) , (UGent) and Gliberto Capano
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Abstract
This research aims to study the interplay between global diffusion and the local adaptation of institutions and the conditions that bring about institutional change at organisational and field level. This thesis focuses on Quality Assurance (QA) in the higher education context since QA plays a crucial role in achieving the objectives of the Bologna Process, which can be seen as an expression of the cultural side of globalisation as well as the global dimension of higher education institutions. At the core of the analysis is the on-going process of implementation of QA in the Italian university system. The study draws upon the neo-institutional theory and builds a multilevel approach that focuses on the interpretation of institutional globalisation as a circular interplay, in which transnational institution building affects the national level of institutions but is also linked to national frames, actors and dynamics. In this change process institutional entrepreneurship and institutional logics play a central role. The research strategy is a mixed method, based on a survey and case studies dealing with a purposive sample of Italian universities. The research reveals that in the Italian university context a contradiction emerges between the bureaucratic logic, prevailing at macro level and emerging in university regulations, and the academic excellence logic, which is nurtured at meso level within the universities and rooted in a growing awareness of academic quality. Hence, this contradiction between the incumbent bureaucratic logic and the desired academic excellence is available to institutional entrepreneurs to be exploited as a source of agency and institutional change. Institutional entrepreneurs’ action is supported by micro-level conditions regarding their position, motivation, resources and opportunities and it materialises in the effort to remove the obstacles to the effective implementation of QA in the Italian context and strengthen academic excellence. Even if no instances of active agency can be found within the sample in the period of investigation, this PhD thesis has brought to light the role of institutional entrepreneurs in the higher education context, legitimised élites who are able to liaise between the university system and policy makers on one side, and civil society and economic sectors on the other to carry out their institutional work. The empirical findings indicate that institutional entrepreneurship is mostly an elusive and blurred phenomenon which can be undermined by unfavourable macro-conditions.
Keywords
higher education, institutions, globalisation, quality assurance, institutional logics, institutional entrepreneurship

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Minelli, Eliana Alessandra. 2019. “Institutions and Globalisation : the Challenge of Quality Assurance in Italian Higher Education.”
APA
Minelli, E. A. (2019). Institutions and globalisation : the challenge of quality assurance in Italian higher education.
Vancouver
1.
Minelli EA. Institutions and globalisation : the challenge of quality assurance in Italian higher education. 2019.
MLA
Minelli, Eliana Alessandra. “Institutions and Globalisation : the Challenge of Quality Assurance in Italian Higher Education.” 2019 : n. pag. Print.
@phdthesis{8626981,
  abstract     = {This research aims to study the interplay between global diffusion and the local adaptation of institutions and the conditions that bring about institutional change at organisational and field level. This thesis focuses on Quality Assurance (QA) in the higher education context since QA plays a crucial role in achieving the objectives of the Bologna Process, which can be seen as an expression of the cultural side of globalisation as well as the global dimension of higher education institutions. 
At the core of the analysis is the on-going process of implementation of QA in the Italian university system. The study draws upon the neo-institutional theory and builds a multilevel approach that focuses on the interpretation of institutional globalisation as a circular interplay, in which transnational institution building affects the national level of institutions but is also linked to national frames, actors and dynamics. In this change process institutional entrepreneurship and institutional logics play a central role. The research strategy is a mixed method, based on a survey and case studies dealing with a purposive sample of Italian universities. 
The research reveals that in the Italian university context a contradiction emerges between the bureaucratic logic, prevailing at macro level and emerging in university regulations, and the academic excellence logic, which is nurtured at meso level within the universities and rooted in a growing awareness of academic quality. Hence, this contradiction between the incumbent bureaucratic logic and the desired academic excellence is available to institutional entrepreneurs to be exploited as a source of agency and institutional change. Institutional entrepreneurs’ action is supported by micro-level conditions regarding their position, motivation, resources and opportunities and it materialises in the effort to remove the obstacles to the effective implementation of QA in the Italian context and strengthen academic excellence. Even if no instances of active agency can be found within the sample in the period of investigation, this PhD thesis has brought to light the role of institutional entrepreneurs in the higher education context, legitimised élites who are able to liaise between the university system and policy makers on one side, and civil society and economic sectors on the other to carry out their institutional work. The empirical findings indicate that institutional entrepreneurship is mostly an elusive and blurred phenomenon which can be undermined by unfavourable macro-conditions. 
},
  author       = {Minelli, Eliana Alessandra},
  keywords     = {higher education,institutions,globalisation,quality assurance,institutional logics,institutional entrepreneurship},
  language     = {eng},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Institutions and globalisation : the challenge of quality assurance in Italian higher education},
  year         = {2019},
}