Master Martina Vukasovic
Avhandlingens tittel er:
How does Europe matter for higher education change? A study about changes of policy and organization in higher education.
This study presents an analysis of the role of European policy initiatives (e.g. the Bologna Process) in policy change and organizational adaptation in higher education in the form of three scientific articles and an extended abstract. The empirical setting is comprised of: (a) three countries of the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia) and (b) two faculties that are part of flagship universities in these countries (the University of Belgrade in Serbia and the University of Zagreb in Croatia). The key interests are (1) to examine the conditions and mechanisms of impact of the European initiatives on policy change on quality assurance, and (2) to analyse the process of institutionalization of internal quality assurance in relation to differences between academic disciplines. The study is theoretically grounded in an institutional approach, combining rationalist and socio-constructivist varieties of neo-institutionalism. In terms of research design, this study is set up as a qualitative comparative study that includes two nested parts of the analysis, which means that policy changes are analysed in relation to the European policy initiatives, while organizational adaptation is analysed in relation to both the national policy changes and European policy initiatives. The overall findings indicate that the influence of European initiatives is facilitated by their clarity and consequences of compliance, participation of domestic actors in European epistemic communities (unless coupled with lack of clarity) and low density of domestic veto players. Actors use European initiatives to boost the normative as well as cultural-cognitive aspects of new institutions, as well to improve their own position within the organization. The European initiatives thus have a direct role in the processes of policy change and organizational adaptation, although an indirect role exists as well: by affecting national policy change the regulative elements of the European policy initiatives are amplified in relation to organizational adaptation. The latter has policy implications, since it implies that the soft European initiatives, based on an OMC-like approach, are interpreted domestically to be harder than they actually are.