Academic Capitalism. Politics, Policies and the Entrepreneurial University

By Bouroche, Myriam A. | Journal of Research Administration, January 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Academic Capitalism. Politics, Policies and the Entrepreneurial University


Bouroche, Myriam A., Journal of Research Administration


Review

Academic Capitalism will be of particular interest to research administrators within higher education institutions who are confronted with the reduction of public funding and the increase of private funding. Slaughter and Leslie examine the changes in the source and allocation of funding faced by public research universities within four large English-speaking countries (Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Historically, universities have had a tradition of autonomy from the market and from the state. However, since the end of World War II, corporations in western countries have increasingly turned to research universities for science-based products, processes and services to market in the emerging global economy in order to compete with the growing and emerging corporations of eastern countries.

On the one hand, universities have relied greatly on external sources of funding which (naturally) stipulate the use of their funds. Conversely, the public transfers of undesignated funding has decreased and the governmental use of designated funding (i.e. funding requiring specific performances of institutions) has increased. The main outcome of these changes is pressure for higher education to align its activities with the needs of the marketplace in order to diversify the funding sources of institutions. According to S. Slaughter and L.L. Leslie, "The shift occurred because the corporate quest for new products converged with faculty and institutional searches for increased funding."

Academic Capitalism comprises seven chapters. The first three chapters provide an introduction and an overview. Chapter One introduces key concepts and theories. Academic capitalism exists when institutions and faculty members engage in market behaviors (i.e. for profit activities: launching spin-off companies, building endowments, patenting, royalty and licensing agreements, raising tuition and entering into business-education partnerships) and market-like behaviors (i.e. competing for funding whether it means seeking external research grants and contracts, service contracts, partnerships with industry and government, or technology transfer). "[Professors] become academics who act as capitalists from within the public sector; they are state-subsidized entrepreneurs," states the authors.

Chapter Two examines the growth of a global political economy and, in response, the development of Australian, Canadian, British and American national higher education policies that seek to enhance national competitiveness by linking postsecondary education to business innovation. This connection aims at creating national wealth by increasing global market shares through the discovery of new products and processes in order to increase the number of high paying, high technology jobs. According to S. Slaughter and L.L. Leslie, "The national policies [developed] promoted a shift from basic or curiosity-driven research to targeted or commercial or strategic research."

Chapter Three presents data on higher education finance patterns over a 20-year period and attempts to verify whether the changes in national policies described in Chapter Two have had concrete and measurable effects in the four studied countries. The data shows how postsecondary systems moved towards market-like behaviors because their organizations were heavily dependent on the state for funding. Universities in all four countries seem to be changing their revenue-generating patterns, moving from funding by general public means to other competitive sources of funds.

Different case studies are presented in the second part of the book. Resource dependence theory guides Chapter Four. The actions of institutions in response to changing methods of resource allocation are explained by this theory: organizations depend on their environment for key resources and organizational behavior is a response to the actions of external agents who control organizational resources. …

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